Haruka Express: Osaka & Kyoto airport transfer with the JR Pass

Haruka Express train

The Kansai International Airport (KIX) services the cities of Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, and Kobe. If you hold a Japan Rail Pass, travel from the airport can be a simple and exciting process, as the Japan Railway West’s Express Haruka train offers direct transportation from the Kansai International Airport to downtown Osaka and Kyoto.

International travelers may find navigating the Japan Railway system to be intimidating, especially if trains are not used extensively in their country of origin. This trek, in particular, can be a bit confusing for first-time users of the Haruka service. This guide is designed to make it clear how to get to downtown Osaka and Kyoto for free on the Haruka Express.

Haruka Express: the Kansai Airport transfer

The Haruka is a limited express, airport rail link train service. The train offers rapid service between Maibara (in the Shiga prefecture) and the Kansai International Airport (KIX), reaching speeds of 130 km/h (80 mph). While the use of this train generally requires both a train fare ticket and a limited express ticket, Japan Rail Pass holders are admitted free of charge.

Each train has six to nine cars, with at least one Green Car, or first class car. Two to three cars on each train are for non-reserved seating, and the remainder are for reserved seating. Each train contains restroom facilities, a vending machine, luggage racks, and is wheelchair accessible. Free Wi-Fi service is also provided. In the interest of passenger safety, smoking is prohibited on all Haruka Express train cars.

How to get from Kansai Airport to Osaka

To travel from the Kansai Airport to the city of Osaka, board the Limited Express Haruka at the Kansai Airport Station using your Japan Rail Pass. Take the Haruka to Shin-Osaka Station, a journey of about one hour. At Shin-Osaka, transfer to a local train to Osaka Station.  The trip from Shin-Osaka to Osaka takes only three to four minutes.

Alternatively, you can also want to get on the previous station, at Tennoji Station, which is slightly closer to the city center.

Kansai Airport Rapid Service

Apart from the Haruka Express, you can also use a Kansai Airport Rapid Service train, or Kanku-kaisoku, to travel directly to Osaka Station, although this is a slightly slower route than the Haruka.

The takes just over an hour and is also covered by the Japan Rail Pass. Buses and limousine services are also available from the airport to Osaka. Expect travel time using these methods to be about seventy minutes, with a fare of ¥1500.

Note: if taking the Rapid Service train back to Kansai Airport, sit in one of the first four cars, as the remaining cars depart for Wakayama at Hineno Station.

Haruka express train at the platform

How to get from Kansai Airport to Kyoto

The Limited Express Haruka is the only direct train service from Kansai Airport to Kyoto station. The one-way trip takes around one hour and fifteen minutes and is free with the Japan Rail Pass. The itinerary is the same as going to Osaka, but getting off two stations later.

From the Kyoto station, you may use other JR lines (such as the JR Nara line) bus or taxi services to travel anywhere in the city or nearby.

Kansai airpòrt trains map
Map of the trains connecting Osaka and Kyoto to Kansai International Airport (KIX). Source: JR West

Haruka Express stations

The Haruka Express runs several times daily from the Kyoto Station to the Kansai Airport Station. The train also stops in Osaka at the Shin-Osaka Station and the Tennoji Station.

For other destinations here is the full list of stations served by the JR Haruka Express trains.

  • Maibara station (connection with the Tokaido Shinkansen line)
  • Hikone
  • Omi-Hachiman
  • Yasu
  • Moriyama
  • Kusatsu (connection with the JR Kusatsu line)
  • Ishiyama
  • Otsu
  • Yamashina
  • Kyoto (connection to the Tokaido Shinkansen line, Nara line and other JR lines)
  • Takatsuki
  • Shin-Osaka (connection to the Tokaido Shinkansen, Sanyo Shinkansen and other private lines)
  • Tennoji (Osaka)
  • Izumi-Fuchu
  • Hineno (connection with the JR Hanwa line for Wakayama)
  • Kansai Airport

Note: The Osaka Station (downtown) is bypassed by the Haruka route, but can be accessed by transferring to a local train. Nara, Namba, Universal City, and other locations can also be accessed by transfers.

Haruka Express schedule

The Haruka makes thirty return trips daily, from Maibara to the Kansai airport and back, for a total of sixty one-way trips. Each one-way trip between the Airport Station and Kyoto station takes around one hour and fifteen minutes.

Trains depart every thirty minutes during the day and evening. From the Kansai airport, departures begin at 6:30 AM and continue until 10:16 PM. Trains run from 6:37 AM to 10:50 PM at Tennoji Station, from 6:17 AM to 9 PM at Shin-Osaka Station, and from 5:45 AM to 8:30 PM at Kyoto Station. Times may vary slightly on weekends and holidays.

You can check the timetables for both the Haruka Express and the Kansai Airport Rapid Service at the JR West official site: https://www.westjr.co.jp/global/en/timetable/

How to check the timetables

Haruka Express timetable
How to read Haruka Express departures and arrivals

Once you pass through the ticket barrier at each station, you will see a timetable for the trains. Be sure to check the timetables for unexpected delays or boarding changes. Look for the name of the train line you are using and the direction (which stations are serviced) displayed at the top of the timetable.

You can then find the train type – in this case “Ltd. Haruka”), the train number, departure time, destination, and platform number scrolling across the digital screen. The departures are numbered from one to sixty. Odd numbered trains (one, three, five, etc.) run south toward the airport, while even-numbered trains (two, four, six, etc.) run north, toward Osaka and Kyoto.

 

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86 thoughts on “Haruka Express: Osaka & Kyoto airport transfer with the JR Pass”

  1. Hi,
    I am Lam and will be in Kyoto on January 2019 with my family (6 people). We’ll get a JR pass Kansai 3days. Our flight back is at 10:50 AM. We have to be at the airport round 8:00 AM. At what time do we have to take the JR Airport Express Haruka from Kyoto station to reach the airport in time?
    Please advice
    Thanks.

  2. Hi I am Maui and I will be travelling to Japan this July and I was planning to take theLTD EXP Haruka 24. May I know which platfrom will the train be? 🙂

    1. Hi Maui! To get the exact platform information please check Hyperdia, the number 1 Japanese online transportation planning tool that will help you greatly in organizing your trips in Japan.

  3. Hi there,

    I am travelling to Osaka in August 2018 and my route and itinerary as below.
    KIX-KYOTO-OSAKA-KIX

    29 August arrive Kansai 9.35PM fand i want to go straight to Kyoto from Kansai Airport. What is the best mode of transport to go Kyoto from Kansai AirportT? I reckon to clear custom and baggage in 45min maximum.

    29-31 August 2018 -Kyoto
    31 August -03 September -Osaka

    I need advise what type of Pass should i purchase for my trip below? Travel 2pax Adult.
    6days 5night .
    JR pass?
    KYOTO: 3day 2night 29 Aug – 31 Aug
    OSAKA (*Day trip to NARA/KOBE): 3day 2night 31 Aug – 3 September

    Appreciate if you can assist me on this. Thank you.

    Regards,
    Lena

  4. I am Pauline and I will travel to Japan on December 2018. I will arrive Kansai airport at 21:05, and i going to Kyoto.
    Due to need to spend some time to go through immigration, collect baggage and change JR ticket, not sure whether can catch up Haruka train schedule 22:15. Is there any train schedule later than this time i can take?
    Please assist.

    1. Hi Pauline! As specified in this article, Haruka Express’ departures begin at 6:30 AM and continue until 10:16 PM. Later than that it won’t be possible to catch that train. We recommend you to check with your hotel/rental apartment which would be the best way to reach them given this arrival time. Enjoy Japan!

  5. Hi, I am not intending to get a JR pass and would be traveling from Kansai Airport to Shin Osaka via Haruka Express. May I know how can I go about buying the tickets? Do I need to buy the tickets online or can I get them just before boarding the train?
    I am not sure if I will arrive in time to board the last train.

  6. Hello JR team,
    I am visiting Japan later in May 2018 and here is my travel plan:
    1. Arrive KIX
    2. 2*night stay/sightseeing in Osaka city
    3. 2*night stay/sightseeing in Kyoto city
    4. Take Shinkansen one-way from Kyoto to Tokyo. Depart from HND.
    What would be the most economical ticket option or combination for this trip? Thanks!

  7. Hi, I need info for November, arriving on KIX on 15. Nov. 2018 at 08.35, and going to Kyoto, from Airpot- what is best way to get there

  8. I am Kim and I will travel to Japan on December 2018. I would like to go to Shin Osaka Station from Kansai International Airport. I found there have two different costs of JR Haruka Express. From KIX to Shin Osaka station, one cost 3300 yen (one-way) and another one is 1300 yen. May I know what is the different between this two types? Please assist.

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