Kansai International Airport (KIX) is the main international airport serving Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe. Here’s everything you need to know to make your arrival as smooth as possible.
Arriving at Kansai International Airport: Go Legacy / Shutterstock.com
Kansai International Airport Introduction
If you’re landing at Kansai International Airport (KIX), you’ll find it a super-convenient gateway to the country. You can get everything you need soon after arrival and be on your way. So, what exactly do you need?
- Japanese cash
- Train or bus ticket
- Snacks and drinks
- Japan Rail Pass conversion (if necessary)
- Information and maps (if necessary)
- Luggage forwarding (if necessary)
All of these services are located within a short distance of the baggage claim exit/arrivals hall entrance. Here’s our full step-by-step guide to these services so you can get on your way as fast as possible. Note that this is intended as a brief guide for arrivals. If you’re departing KIX, or want to spend more time there after arrival, see our full Guide to Kansai International Airport.
Kansai International Airport: Coward Lion / Shutterstock.com
Step-by-Step Kansai International Airport Arrival Guide
Note: This guide is written for the Terminal 1, North Wing arrivals hall. The information is almost the same for Terminal 1, South Wing (it’s the same hall, just the other end). Terminal 2 is a completely separate hall with different facilities and we don’t cover it in this article.
As soon as you exit the baggage claim/customs area, you’ll find yourself in the 1F arrivals hall.
Arrivals hall entrance – image © Chris Rowthorn
Immediately in front of you, you will see almost everything you need. An information counter, some ATMs, taxi and bus ticket counters, and a coffee shop (the train station is upstairs). Here’s the traveler’s-eye view of what you see as you emerge into the arrivals hall:
Walking into the arrivals hall – image © Chris Rowthorn
The helpful ladies at the Kansai Airports information counter can answer all your questions. They’re right in front of you as you exit.
Kansai Airports information counter – image © Chris Rowthorn
Next to the counter, there’s a useful map of Terminal 1, showing all the shopping and dining options, etc.
Terminal 1 map – image © Chris Rowthorn
There’s another, much larger information counter, the Kansai Tourist Information Center, in the middle of the arrivals hall, a short walk to your left as you enter the hall.
Kansai Tourist Information Center – image © Chris Rowthorn
Almost straight in front of you as you enter the arrivals hall, you will see a bank of ATMs, where you can get Japanese cash. There’s Japanese postal ATM and two 7 Bank (7-11) ATMs. Both work well with foreign bank cards.
ATMs in arrivals hall – image © Chris Rowthorn
Along the far wall of the arrivals hall, you will find various communications shops selling or renting phones, pocket wifis and SIM cards. We generally wait until we get to Kyoto or Osaka to buy our SIM cards. See Internet In Japan For Tourists: Wifi, Pocket Wifi, SIM Cards, Rental Phones etc for all the details.
Communications store in arrivals hall – image © Chris Rowthorn
To the right of you as you enter the hall, you will see Doutor, a fast and efficient coffee shop that also sells decent sandwiches.
Doutor coffee shop – image © Chris Rowthorn
If you’d prefer something else, there’s a Starbucks at the other (south) end of the hall.
Starbucks – image © Chris Rowthorn
If you’d like a snack (sandwiches, onigiri, chips and candy) or a drink, there’s a small Lawson convenience store near the south end of the arrivals hall.
Lawson convenience store – image © Chris Rowthorn
At both ends of the hall, you will find luggage storage and luggage forwarding (delivery) services. They’ll ship your suitcases to your hotel overnight for a remarkably reasonable fee. Here’s the one at the north end of the hall:
Luggage forwarding service – image © Chris Rowthorn
To your left as you enter the arrivals hall, against the far wall, you will see the airport limousine bus ticket counter. They sell tickets for buses that will take you to Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara and a few other destinations in Kansai. The boarding points are just outside the arrivals hall (behind the counter).
Airport limousine bus ticket counter – image © Chris Rowthorn
At the south end of the hall, on the far wall, you will find two taxi company counters: MK Taxi and Yasaka Taxi. They sell seats in shared taxi vans to cities in Kansai. Some people like this service because it’s door-to-door (ie, they’ll take you right to your hotel, ryokan or vacation rental). They’re cheap, but they can be slow if you’re the last stop. You can ask to see if you can charter a whole taxi, but they’re not always available and, of course, charters are expensive.
Yasaka Taxi counter – image © Chris Rowthorn
MK Taxi counter – image © Chris Rowthorn
Finally, rounding out the services on the 1F arrivals floor, you will find the Limon counter on the far wall, roughly in the middle of the hall. Limon is a service where you can pick up tickets and passes ordered online from companies.
Limon ticket counter – image © Chris Rowthorn
After getting cash, caffeine and candy etc on the 1F arrivals floor, train-bound travelers should head to the middle of the hall to catch an escalator to the 2F, which is where the train ticket offices are located. Of course, there are also elevators for those with strollers or lots of luggage.
Escalators to 2F and train station – image © Chris Rowthorn
Take a right off the escalators and you will find the bridge over to the building that contains the train station. It’s less than 100 meters away.
Bridge to train stations – image © Chris Rowthorn
The train station concourse can be pretty crowded. You’ll see the ticket offices and machines on your left and the turnstiles (entrances) on your right. The Nankai Line tickets and turnstiles are first and the JR Line tickets and turnstiles are next.
Train station concourse – image © Chris Rowthorn
If you’re heading to Osaka, you should consider taking the private Nankai Line, which runs direct from KIX to Namba Station in Osaka. Here’s the Nankai Line ticket office:
Nankai Line ticket office – image © Chris Rowthorn
The Nankai Line ticket counter and machines are next to the office.
Nankai Line ticket counter and machines – image © Chris Rowthorn
Opposite the Nankai Line office and machines, you’ll find the Nankai Line turnstiles.
Nankai Line turnstiles – image © Chris Rowthorn
Just past the Nankai Line section, you’ll find the JR Line section. The JR Line ticket office is at the far end of the hall. Here is where you can convert your Japan Rail Pass into the actual pass (or buy one if you don’t have one). Note that the line can be long here. So, even if we have a pass, we often buy a single ticket in cash from a machine and jump on the train and then convert the pass in Kyoto. Sure, it’s a bit of a waste of money, but we hate waiting on line.
JR Line ticket office. – image © Chris Rowthorn
The JR ticket machines are next to the JR ticket office.
JR ticket machines – image © Chris Rowthorn
The JR turnstiles are just opposite the JR ticket office and machines.
JR turnstiles – image © Chris Rowthorn
There is a departure board at the turnstiles that shows upcoming train departures. This can be useful in calculating whether you have enough time to go into the office and change your JR Rail Pass exchange order into a pass, or whether you’d be better off just buying a single ticket with cash from a machine. Since the JR Haruka Airport Express to Kyoto operates only about once an hour, you can be stuck waiting for quite a while if one has just departed. So, plan your time accordingly (keep in mind that there are great restaurants on floors 2 and 3 of Terminal 1 if you need to wait).
JR Line departure board – image © Chris Rowthorn
Kansai International Airport Hotels
Note that public transport to Osaka and Kyoto stops running relatively early. So, if you have a late arrival, you might want to spend your first night at an airport hotel rather than stressing about making a train connection. Here are the only two hotels at the airport:
Hotel Nikko Kansai Airport
(View on Booking.com or Agoda.com)
Right at KIX, this hotel just a few steps beyond the train station. It’s comfortable, quiet and well run. This is where we stay for late arrivals or early departures. And, the prices here are lower than at airport hotels in the west.
Hotel Nikko Kansai Airport – image © Booking.com
First Cabin Kansai Airport
(View on Booking.com or Agoda.com)
If you can’t afford the Nikko, then this is a good no-frills option. It’s sort of like an upscale capsule hotel. It’s in the same building as the Nikko.
First Cabin Kansai Airport – image © Booking.com
For some other hotels near the airport, see Kansai International Airport Hotels.
Other Useful Information
- Guide to Kansai International Airport.
- Kyoto Airport Transport
- Osaka Airport Transport
- Kansai International Airport Hotels
- Narita Airport Guide
- Haneda Airport Guide
Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Kyoto guide
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Kyoto
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Buy a data-only SIM card online for collection when you arrive at Kansai International Airport (for Osaka and Kyoto) or Tokyo's Narita Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings to find the best deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass – here's my explanation of why it's worth it
- A prepaid Icoca card makes travelling around Kyoto easy – here's how
- World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while traveling and claim online from anywhere in the world