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 city center.

Apart from the Haruka Express, you can also use a Kansai Airport Rapid Service train, or Kanku-kaisoku, to travel directly from the Kansai Airport to Osaka Station. This trip takes just over an hour and costs ¥1130, as it is not 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.

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.

Haruka express train at the platform

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.

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

  1. Hello,
    How do I find any information on traveling from Narita International Airport to Kyoto’s hotels or Kyoto’s area?
    Thank you in advance.

  2. Hello John,
    You can find all the information you need regarding transportation in Japan at our Hyperdia page.
    Also, here is an article on how to get from Narita Airport to Tokyo.
    Once in Tokyo, use the Hyperdia page to learn what is the best way for you to get to the city of Kyoto.

    Have an amazing trip,
    The JRailPass team

  3. Hello,

    I will visit Osaka and Kyoto on May 2017, how to choose a pass for Osaka to USJ, Tokyo – Mt Fuji and two days in Osaka using the pass?

    Thankyou in advance.

  4. Hi Shazana,

    The Japan Rail Pass will fully cover the trips you want to make: it will allow you to travel between Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto by taking the Shinkansen Hikari. The pass also gives you access to Osaka city Loop line. The station for USJ (Universal Studios Japan) is ‘Universal City’ and is fully serviced by JR, you can find all access details in their official website. You will also be able to reach Mount Fuji at no additional cost.

    Have a nice trip!

  5. I will buy Kansai Area pass for traveling Osaka and its neighbors in July 2017. I have some questions here,
    1. Is the pass valid on Haruka Experss, if so, do we need to reserve the seat before boarding?
    2. Can I travel on this Haruka Express from Tennoji to Kyoto back and forth during the stay?
    Thank you

  6. Hi W. Othayakul!

    The Kansai Area Pass is valid on non-reserved seats on the Haruka Express. However if decided to purchase the Japan Rail Pass you would be able to travel also on the reserved seats.

    Have a nice trip!

  7. Hi I will be travelling to Osaka next week. I just have a few questions regarding the use of the Haruka express to Shin-Osaka. It says that it “requires both a train fare ticket and a limited express ticket”. If so, where can I buy these tickets and how much would it cost? Is there an online schedule for the Haruka express?

    Thank you in advance!

  8. Hi Tina Ong,

    Those mentioned tickets are only needed if you don’t travel with a Japan Rail Pass.
    Japan Rail Pass holders are admitted in Haruka Express free of charge.

    Have a nice trip!

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