Nankai Railway's limited express Rapit is the fastest way from Kansai Airport to Namba in downtown Osaka. (Photo: Bonson Lam)

Kansai Airport to Namba and Osaka

Cheapest, fastest and midnight options by train or bus

Nankai Railway's limited express Rapit is the fastest way from Kansai Airport to Namba in downtown Osaka. (Photo: Bonson Lam)
Bonson Lam   - 5 min read

The distance between Osaka's Kansai International Airport (KIX) to Namba in downtown Osaka is between 43km (Nankai Railways) and 49.5 km (JR). For such a long distance, what is the cheapest, most comfortable and quickest way to travel? Which one is best for you?

Airport Limousine Bus

A dedicated airport bus operates express between Kansai Airport and Namba OCAT. The trip takes approximately 50 minutes and the one way fare costs ¥1,050 for adults and ¥530 for children. The return fare is ¥1,850 which must be used within 14 days of the first trip. They accept cash and most credit cards, including American Express, JCB, Mastercard, Union Pay and Visa at the ticket office.

The first bus from Kansai Airport Terminal 1 departs at 0630, then 0715, 0755, 0825 and then every half hour until the last bus at 2225 which gets to Namba at 2315.

From Namba the first bus is at 0515 arriving at Kansai Airport at 0603, and the last bus departs at 2110 and arriving at 2158.

There is also a midnight bus that operates at 0015 and 0115 from Kansai Airport Terminal 2, and 0030 and 0130 from Kansai Airport, Terminal 1, arriving at Namba Nankai Station 54 minutes later. The fare is ‎¥1550 for adults and 780 yen for children.

There are also other direct buses to Osaka, Shinsaibashi, Tennoji (Abeno Harukas), Uehommachi, and USJ. The bus to Osaka (Umeda) operates 24 hours a day. After midnight the bus departs every hour on the hour, from 0100 to 0500, taking an hour to Osaka. The fare is also ¥1550 for adults and 780 yen for children.

My rating - Speed 8/10, Convenience 10/10, Frequency 7/10, Value 7/10

Who is this option best for?

Passengers with a lot of luggage who want a direct and the most comfortable service to their hotel.

Passengers travelling after midnight.

Those not wanting to activate the JR Pass for this trip, for example visitors staying in Osaka for one or two days before activating the railway pass, or those arriving at Kansai Airport in the evening and so will not use the train beyond Osaka once they check in at their accommodation.

Train - Japan Railways (JR)

Japan Rail operates two services from Kansai Airport to Namba and Osaka, both of which are covered by the JR pass or the JR West Kansai rail passes.

The fastest service to Namba is the Haruka, taking 42 mins at a cost of ¥2,230, being the ticket fare of ¥1,060 and a limited express seat fee of ¥1,170.

An alternative to the JR or JR West rail pass is the ICOCA and Haruka discount ticket package. ICOCA is a rechargeable card giving access to all JR and private trains, buses, and subway in the Kansai area. The package contains the ICOCA card loaded with ¥1,500, a ¥500 refundable deposit, and a one way Haruka ticket to Tennoji.

The only problem is that the Haruka only runs hourly in the middle of the day.

On the other hand you can board a normal express called the JR Kansai Airport Rapid Service which is a limited stops semi-express train to Tennoji, before continuing around the loop to Osaka (Umeda) 70 minutes later and terminating at Kyobashi. This train is not as fast, but more frequent, running approximately every 20 minutes.

A normal express takes 70 Minutes to Namba and requires one Transfer at Tennoji or Shin Imamiya for a connecting train to Namba. There can be a small waiting time (e.g. 10 mins) for the transfer.

My rating - Speed 9/10, Convenience 8/10, Frequency 8/10, Value 8/10 (with Rail pass or Haruka + ICOCA package), 7/10 (otherwise)

Who is this option best for?

Passengers who want to get to Osaka (Umeda)/ Tennoji rather than Namba, or those who want to use the JR pass.

Train - Nankai Railways

The Nankai is the cheapest and fastest option, with the advantage of frequent services. So you can have your cake and eat it! Like JR, there are two options.

The local express is the cheapest at ¥ 920 but takes 46 minutes, though an upgrade to the slightly faster and more comfortable Rapit limited express trains is possible for an addition ¥ 510 (total ¥ 1430).

The local express is cheaper than JR's equivalent, while the limited express is cheaper and quicker than either JR Haruka or the Airport Limousine Bus.

If you wish to make day trips from Nara to Kyoto, Mie, Osaka and Aichi (Nagoya) Prefectures, a better option would be to purchase the Kintetsu Rail Pass, which is valid for five days and provides costs over ¥5,000 yen of value for ¥3,800

My rating - Speed 10/10, Convenience 9/10, Frequency 9/10, Value 9/10

Who is this option best for?

Passengers wanting to travel quickly and want value for money.

More info

Find out more about Kansai Airport (KIX).

Bonson Lam

Bonson Lam @bonson.lam

I knew my future was destined to be with Japan the moment I flew from Sydney to experience the atmospheric laneways of Kyoto last century.  I am humbled to have met many distinguished people during this time, especially the national living treasures of Japan, such as the doll maker to the Imperia...