With easy access to Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe, Kansai International Airport is your gateway from central and southern Japan to the world.
Most of us who enter Japan each year do so by way of Tokyo International Narita Airport. However, there’s another option for those wishing to hop right into Kyoto and Osaka: The Kansai International Airport, affectionately known as simply KIX.
Located just over an hour outside Osaka City, near the border between Osaka and Wakayama Prefectures, Kansai International Airport services around 25 million passengers each year, making it the third busiest airport in Japan, behind Narita and Tokyo Haneda airports.
Originally opened in 1994 to relieve pressure on Osaka International Airport (known colloquially as Itami Airport), KIX’s location, excellent transport links and rapid expansion have seen it grow to surpass Itami, which now serves as a purely domestic hub.
For most people in Japan who live south of Nagoya, a trip abroad will most likely involve passing through KIX at some point. As well as rail links to Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto, there are also frequent airport bus services to further flung areas like Okayama.
For travelers, flying into KIX domestically is often cheaper than using the shinkansen (bullet train). However, it will take more time, which is why if you are in Japan for a limited time, you may opt for a train over a flight, despite price differences of over ¥10,000 (USD100).
KIX is also a regional hub for the popular budget airline “Peach” who operate out of their own dedicated check-in area in Terminal 2. Peach offers cheap no-frills flights to Tokyo, Okinawa and international destinations like Hong Kong and Korea, too.
For travelers, flying into KIX domestically is often cheaper than using the shinkansen (bullet train).
Terminal 2 of Kansai airport is reserved for low cost carriers (LCCs) such as Peach, Jetstar and The Philippines airline Cebu Pacific. Terminal 1 has flights to Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere around the world. Among the airlines operating out of terminal 1 are Emirates, United, Delta, Qantas, Air France and many more.
Facilities at the airport are as one would expect from an international airport. There’s a Starbucks, a couple of currency exchanges, convenience stores, phone and wifi rental services and souvenir shops.
Although the shop staff doesn’t always speak English, support for non-Japanese speakers is available from the information kiosks (marked with large question marks) dotted around the airport. The staff there are fluent in English as well as a number of other languages on request.
For more on flights and transport in Japan, check out our Japan 101 guide.