Introducing the Kobe-KIX Airport Bay Shuttle
As the most expensive airport ever built, Osaka’s Kansai International Airport (KIX) serves as an impressive and gateway for Western Japan to the rest of the world. After travelers bound for Kobe survive the walk through the world’s longest airport concourse, they quickly realize that the airport’s location in the middle of Osaka Bay is quite inconvenient for quick access to Kobe via rail and bus lines.
Although the Nankai Railway offers express trains to Osaka’s Namba district and Japan Railways offers trains to Kobe via Osaka Station, both of these options take over one hour of transit time and also require train transfers. Busses also run between Kansai International Airport and Kobe but they are time-consuming and can be delayed by highway traffic. The bus ride to Kobe from KIX takes about one hour and twenty minutes, depending on traffic.
If you are looking for a faster and cheaper way to get between Kobe and KIX than the bus or the train, you are in luck! Taking a ride on the Kobe – Kansai Airport Bay Shuttle is easy and cheap! The ride between Kobe Airport and KIX Terminal 1 takes just 31 minutes and costs only 2000 yen round trip or 1000 yen for a one-way ticket. (For non-tourists or foreigners with Japanese work visas, the fares are 3000 yen and 1850 yen, respectively.)
I first found out about the ferry service a few years ago before taking a trip to Hong Kong with a friend and would like to share information about the Kobe – KIX ferry with you today.
If you are going to KIX from Kobe, getting a seat on the ferry is very straightforward. Once you arrive at any of Kobe Sannomiya’s train stations (JR, Hankyu, Hanshin, Subway, etc.), be on the lookout for signs that direct you towards the Kobe Port Liner (ポートライナー) and Kobe Airport. In order to access the Port Liner, you will go up a set of escalators near JR Sannomiya Station’s East Exit, near the Travelex money exchange office.
From there, pass through the ticket gates and get on a Port Liner train bound for Kobe Airport (not Kita-Futo). You will arrive at Kobe Airport Station in 18 minutes. From the train station, enter the airport terminal building and follow the signs that direct you to the KIX Ferry. You can either walk through the parking lot to the ferry terminal or take a bus from the curb outside of the airport to the ferry terminal. Here is a diagram of how to walk to the terminal and find the bus in Kobe.
Once you have arrived at the ferry terminal, helpful staff will direct you to the ticket counter and vending machines to purchase your ticket bound for Kansai International Airport. Here is a copy of the timetable to help you plan your trip to the Kobe ferry terminal in advance.
Once you arrive at KIX, there will be shuttle busses waiting for you that will take you to both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, which services Peach Airlines.
Leaving KIX to go to Kobe on the ferry is even easier than it is to get to KIX via Kobe. International arrivals will just need to turn to their right on the ground floor after passing through the doors beyond customs. Domestic arrivals will need to go to the ground floor and then follow the diagram below for directions how to get to the ferry ticket-vending booth.
You will see a booth tucked away in the corner of the airport with a large vending machine and some helpful staff. They manage the ferry tickets and will help you purchase a ticket. If you are a foreign tourist, you will be able to get discounted fares when you present your passport to the staff. Here is an access map to find the ferry counter inside of KIX Terminal 1.
After you have purchased your ticket, continue outside to bus stop number 12. From there, a free shuttle bus will take you and your luggage to the KIX Ferry Terminal. After arrival at Kobe Airport, hop on the Port Liner train bound for Sannomiya to begin your Kobe adventure.
Sometimes the ferry can be very crowded with Chinese tourists who have many boxes and bags with them, so it is best to arrive early to get your ticket and secure a good seat on the ferry. It is also advisable to book your tickets in advance if you plan on taking the last ferry or traveling during peak travel season.
For more information about the Kobe – KIX Airport Bay Shuttle and possible, visit their official website here. (English, Japanese, Chinese, Korean).