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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37 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.

    1. 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

  2. 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.

    1. 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!

  3. 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

    1. 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!

  4. 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!

    1. 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!

  5. Hi,
    I intend to take the Haruka Express from Kansai to Kyoto.
    Can I use the JR Pass for Green Car reserved seating?

    Richard

    1. Hi Richard,

      If you are travelling with a Green Pass you will be entitled to book green seats at no additional cost. However if you are traveling with a Standard Pass you will need to pay an additional fee to travel in the green seats area.

      Happy travels!

  6. I will arrive KIX on Nov 19 (SUN) 21:40. I think that I will wait my bag and pass custom on 22:10. But last train is 22:18. Can I buy ticket at JR counter at that time? If not, I need to go on next day 6:35. Can I buy ticket at JR counter in the morning?

    1. Hi Wichit!

      The Japan Rail Pass be will sold at a higher price and on a trial basis in Japan from March 8, 2017 through March 31, 2018 at major stations and airports among which you have KIX. The ticket office in Kansai Airport is opened from 5:30 to 23:00.

      Have an amazing trip!

  7. Hi,
    How do I reserve seats on Haruka train from KIX to Kyoto station, will I have to pay extra ?
    Can I reserve a one way pass online ?

    1. Hi Shirley!

      JR Pass holders can book a seat on all Japan Rail trains such as Haruka Express free of charge. All seat reservations should be done before boarding the train. To reserve your seat, please go to any Ticket Office (Midori-no-madoguchi).

      Have an amazing trip!

  8. Hi, I plan to go Shirakawa from Kansai airport, may I know is the Kansai Hokuriku area pass suitable for my plan? Thanks!

    1. Hi Yeoh,

      There are no train services to Shirakawa-go, but the Nohi Bus is available from Takayama. The trip lasts approximately one hour. Individual tickets can be directly during your stay in Takayama.

      Happy travels!

  9. I bought the Takayama Hokuriku Tourist Pass( 5 days) for my trip in coming November.
    1. Can I use it to travel by Limited Exp. Thunderbird from Shin Osaka Station to Kyoto?
    2. Does this pass cover any local transport in Kyoto?
    3. Can I use the Haruka from Kyoto back to Tennoji station.
    4. Does this pass cover any local transport in Osaka?
    5. Does this pass cover local transport in Kanazawa?
    6. How to book seats to Shirakawa-go?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Sue!

      Unfortunately we don’t have much information on the Takayama Hokuriku Tourist Pass. Basically it grants unlimited rides on JR conventional lines running between Nagoya, Gero, Takayama - Toyama, and linking Kansai-airport, Osaka City area, Kyoto, Kaga-Onsen - Kanazawa, and “Hokuriku Shinkansen” running between Kanazawa and Toyama.

      Please make sure to visit Tourist Pass official website for all the information of this pass.

    1. Hi Jasmine!

      There is not – while the Japan Rail Pass is still valid you can travel unlimitedly in all of the included transportation.

      Enjoy Japan!

  10. i will be traveling to Kansai-Osaka-Kyoto-Kansai by last week of september. what is the best and economical way to do this?

    1. Hi Edrick!

      The most economical way of travelling will depend on your scheduled trip: generally, the more you travel, the more economical gets the Japan Rail Pass. Please note transportation in Japan is not cheap and savings can be big. To assess which is the best option we recommend you to draw all trips you want to make and compare its individual prices (you can check Hyperdia) to the cost of the Japan Rail Pass.

      All the mentioned trips are fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass as described below:

      – 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.
      – To travel between Kyoto and Osaka take the Hikari train on the Tokaido Shinkansen line. You will get between Kyoto Station and Shin-Osaka Station in less than 30 minutes.

      Have a nice trip!

  11. We are taking the Haruka to the airport hotel to check in and back to town for more shopping. Is there a limit on how many trips we can take the Haruka on the same day using JR pass?

    1. Hi Jasmine!

      No, there is not a limit on the amount of times you can take the Haruka Express using your Japan Rail Pass. You can make unlimited rides in any of the included transportation while the pass is still valid.

      Happy travels!

  12. hi!, I will be travelling in Japan on October, I will arrive in Osaka, and travel to kyoto my question is at what time is the last train from osaka airport to kyoto?
    and also can I travel with my JR Pass to Nara and tokyo?

    1. Hi Esther!

      For the exact operation hours of trains please check Hyperdia – the number 1 Japanese online transportation planning tool. It offers detailed timetables, platform information, trip duration and exact distance, which will help you greatly in organizing your trips in Japan.

      Regarding your question, yes – you can travel to Nara and to Tokyo at no additional cost if you hold a Japan Rail Pass. To get to Nara from Osaka just take the Yamatoji Rapid Train from Osaka Station to JR Nara Station. To travel from Osaka to Tokyo, you will need to take either the Hikari bullet train or Kodama from Tokyo or Shinagawa stations that will get you to central Tokyo. Both run on the Tokaido Shinkansen line, connecting the two cities.

      Very happy travels!

  13. Hi.
    I will be taking this route in Jan 2018
    KIX- Kyoto-Kanazawa-Shirakawago-Takayama-osaka within 7 days. Should I get the JR pass or the Takayama-Hokuriku Area Pass.

    1. Hi Alexandra!

      The Japan Rail Pass will cover trips nation-wide while regional passes only cover trips within a certain region. We recommend you to draw your itinerary to assess which pass would be more convenient for it.

      Have a nice trip!

  14. Hi,
    I will travel to Japan in this coming October.
    My route will be KIX-KYOTO-OSAKA-KIX.
    What is the best way to reach directly to Kyoto? Is it by HARUKA express? And what would be the timetable for Haruka express?

    2. What is the best option from KYOTO to Osaka?
    3. Where is the Icoca Haruka ticket counter at KIX airport? Is it at 2F?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Yong Siew Chin!

      The easiest way to reach Kyoto directly from Kansai Airport is through the Haruka Express, fully included in your Japan Rail Pass. 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. Once you pass through the ticket barrier at each station, you will see a timetable for the trains.

      The best option to reach Osaka from Kyoto is taking the Hikari train on the Tokaido Shinkansen line. You will get between Kyoto Station and Shin-Osaka Station in less than 30 minutes. This trip is also fully included in your Japan Rail Pass.

      Have a nice trip!

  15. I plan to take Haruka express from Kansai airport to Hikone, shiga upon arrival the first day. how much is Haruka 50 Limited express Maibara?
    If I don’t have Japan Rail Pass, where can I buy this ticket?
    TQ

  16. Hi. I just want to make a one way trip from kyoto station to kansai airport. It says that I should take Haruka express but when I try to book online, the options only ask me to collect from kansai airport. Am I just supposed to purchase at kyoto station ?

    1. Hi there,

      The Limited Express Haruka operated by JR West is the only rail service between Kyoto Station and Kansai International Airport. It covers the distance in about 75 minutes stopping at Osaka City’s Shin-Osaka Station and Tennoji Station on the way.
      This train is covered by the Japan Rail Pass. If you do not have a Japan Rail Pass you might consider getting the ICOCA card. The normal fare for the journey between Kyoto Station and Kansai Airport Station is 2850 yen. The Limited Express Haruka runs about 30 round trips between Kyoto Station and Kansai Airport Station every day, so you can purchase it at Kyoto station, since the trains are scheduled to match the demand.

      Hope it helps 🙂

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