Enjoy the Kansai area using JR limited express trains! What you should know: from how to access from the Kansai International Airport to how to book a reserved seat

The Kansai area is most well known for having popular tourist sites, such as Kyoto and Osaka, but you could find much more in the area if you wander off away from these major places. If you want to fully enjoy Kansai, it is recommended to make a trip by rail using “Kansai WIDE Area Pass,” which allows you to save money on your travel. We introduce you to attractive spots accessible by limited express trains as well as solutions to any concerns regarding how to book a ticket.

How to access from Kansai International Airport to the Kansai area

How to access from Kansai International Airport to the Kansai area
The sky gateway to Kansai is Kansai International Airport (KIX). In order to go directly from the airport to the major cities of Kansai, such as Osaka (Osaka Station) and Kyoto (Kyoto Station), you could take a limousine bus, but it would be more convenient to take the JR West’s “Kansai-Airport Express HARUKA.” From the airport, it takes about 45 minutes to Osaka Station and about 75 minutes to Kyoto Station.

For foreign travelers, a special pass “HARUKA One-way Ticket” is available, which gives you a discount on the fare for the Express HARUKA (from 1,300 yen to 2,200 yen, depending on the service section).
https://www.westjr.co.jp/global/en/ticket/pass/one_way/haruka/関西国際空港At JR Kyoto Station, the Express HARUKA arrives at Platform No. 30. From the other side, Platform No. 31, the Limited Express “HASHIDATE,” “KINOSAKI,” and “MAIZURU,” go to the North Kansai area, including Kinosaki Onsen and Amanohashidate. Therefore, even if you carry a big suitcase from the airport, it would be easy to transfer, without having to go up and down the stairs. It is a big advantage for people with big luggage and/or children!

Kansai-Airport Express HARUKA at Platform No. 30 in Kyoto Station
A view of Kansai-Airport Express HARUKA at Platform No. 30 from the limited express train at Platform No. 31 in Kyoto Station

JR West Japan limited express trains for the North Kansai area

The North Kansai area is a very attractive place with various appealing points, such as scenic sites, onsen (hot springs), and historical streetscapes. You can easily access this attractive area by JR limited express trains from Osaka, Shin-Osaka, and Kyoto stations. Various limited express trains are available in the JR West Japan area. Here are details of some such trains going to the North Kansai area.

・Limited Express HASHIDATE
Connecting Kyoto Station with Fukuchiyama, Miyazu, Amanohashidate, Toyooka, and other stations.AmanohashidateAmanohashidate is a natural sandbar stretching for 3.6 km in total on the ocean. It has been traditionally compared to an image of a dragon going up to the sky and is regarded as a “power spot.”

・Limited Express KINOSAKI
Connecting Kyoto Station with Fukuchiyama, Toyooka, Kinosaki Onsen, and other stations.Kinosaki OnsenKinosaki Onsen is one of the most famous onsen towns in Kansai. The best part is to walk along the river wearing a yukata cotton kimono to visit seven onsen facilities.

・Limited Express MAIZURU
Connecting Kyoto Station with Higashi-Maizuru Station.Maizuru Brick ParkMaizuru City, where Higashi-Maizuru Station is located, used to prosper with many military ports. You can still find historical buildings, including very old ones over 100 years old like those at Maizuru Brick Park. There is a cruise tour to see escort vessels and dockyards of the Maritime Self-Defense Force up close.

・Limited Express HAMAKAZE
Connecting Osaka Station with Tottori Station via Toyooka, Kinosakionsen, and Kasumi stations.Kasumi BeachNear Kasumi Station, there is Kasumi Beach with a beautiful sawtooth coastline, called ria coast, created by nature. In spring and summer, from late April to September, it is recommended to take a sightseeing ferry “Kasumi GEO TAXI,” which takes you around to see the beautiful scenery of the ocean.crabKami Town, where Kasumi Station is located, is also known as a “town of crabs,” where snow crabs are caught in winter. There are many crab restaurants within walking distance from Kasumi Station, allowing you to readily enjoy the winter-only delicacy.

・Limited Express KONOTORI
Connecting Shin-Osaka Station with Fukuchiyama, Sasayamaguchi, Toyooka, Kinosakionsen, and other stations.
Sasayama CastleLocated about an hour from Shin-Osaka Station, Sasayamaguchi Station is in Tambasasayama City. Once prospering as a castle town of Sasayama Castle, the city has about 1,000 cherry trees across the area centering on the castle, which beautifully bloom in early April every year.HASHIDATEPlease note that a certain limited express train may have a different destination depending on the time. You should also know that some HASHIDATE and MAIZURU trains are one connected train at Kyoto Station and may separate at one of the stations along the way, as do KINOSAKI and MAIZURU. Therefore, please make sure to check the sign at the upper part of each train before you get on.

Fukuchiyama and Ayabe, where you can stroll around using the time for transfer of trains

Fukuchiyama and Ayabe, where you can stroll around using the time for transfer of trains
When you transfer to a limited express, you might usually use JR Fukuchiyama Station or Ayabe Station. Within walking distance from these stations, you can find places offering unique sweets to the town. Take advantage of your transfer time to have a break with delicious sweets.

How to take limited express trains in the JR West Japan area

In order to take a limited express train, you need a limited-express ticket for a reserved/non-reserved seat in addition to a train ticket. For foreign travelers, if you purchase a pass such as “Kansai WIDE Area Pass” (valid for 5 days; 12,000 yen for adult), you can travel around the North Kansai area conveniently for less money!

All limited express trains introduced in this article have reserved seats only, so it is necessary to book a reserved seat in advance even if you have a pass.

How to book a reserved seat
There are two ways to book a reserved seat: an online reservation service in various languages and booking at Green Ticket Machines at JR West Japan stations.
https://e5489.jr-odekake.net/e5489/ibpc/CBTopMenuPC?LANG=enThis is the Green Ticket This is the Green Ticket Machine at the West Exit of JR Kyoto Station. As Kyoto Station is especially busy, it is better to get in line earlier.券売機The display is available in Japanese, English, Chinese (Simplified/Traditional), and Korean.
券売機Select “Limited Express (Reserved Seat).”券売機 券売機Select your destination and the station you plan to get off.
券売機Select the number of people.
券売機Select the limited express departing at your desired time. The circle mark shows there are still many vacant seats available.券売機Select a seat.
発券Pay with cash or by credit card and you will get a ticket!

Recommended cars and seats on limited express trains
When you take one of the limited express trains described in this article, it is recommended for you to use Car No. 1 if you have lots of luggage. It is because there is a space between a Green Car and the regular car, where you can put big luggage, such as suitcases, for no extra charge. (Some trains may not have the space.)
特急電車If you want to use your PC and/or charge your smartphone, you should choose a seat in the very front or very back row, where electrical outlets (Type A) are available.
This article has hopefully given you some useful details. With less worries about public transportation, we are sure that you will be able to enjoy more of your trip in the Kansai and North Kansai areas!

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I am Ayumi from Chiba Prefecture. I love sweets. I majored in Japanese history in my university. I have visited many historic sites from the ancient days to the modern days on my trips. I have visited about 100 castles of various sizes. I am also obsessed with visiting “anime pilgrimage sites,” the locations featured in popular anime and manga.

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