If you are arriving in Japan via Kansai airport and want to kick start your journey straight away, a ferry ride certainly provides a great welcome into the beautiful city of Kobe. The ferry shuttle links Kansai Airport to Kobe Airport, then it’s a short trip on the train to Sannomiya. Much faster, and infinitely more fun than a train around the edge of the whole bay.
It’s easy to buy tickets from inside Kansai Airport as there is plenty of signs and markings directing you along the way. At the ferry shuttle stand, there are lovely assistants with a ‘helper sheet’ which make it easy to buy a single or return ticket. It costs 1,850 yen for a single, and 3,000 yen for a return (which doesn’t have to be used that day!). From there you are directed to a bus stop, and if you aren’t sure, or look even slightly confused, the assistants will come and show you where to stand. The bus is a very short journey over to the docks where the ferry will be waiting for you. The ferry runs every 45-60 minutes, which means the buses aren’t as frequent, so be prepare to wait for the bus. However, once it arrives someone will help you load your suitcases (which is wonderful when jet-lagged) and you just bounce from smiley face to smiley face until you end up in Sannomiya.
The only place the bus stops is the ferry dock, so from there someone will help you unload your luggage, and load it onto the ferry. Then you just need to find a seat with a good view and enjoy the half-hour sail across the bay.
On the other side of the bay, when the ferry arrives you will be ushered onto another bus which takes you across the car park to the train station. It is an incredibly short journey. You can actually see the train station from where you land, but it keeps sleepy tourists from wandering around a busy car park with huge bags. Thank you Japanese convenience!
The train station has only one train, the Portliner. All the trains stop at Sannomiya, so if the mainland is your destination you can’t get lost from here. Just get a ticket to the final stop. They are all number coded as well, in case you find yourself confused by Japanese names. If your destination is one of the convention centers or laboratories of Port Island, then the voice over on the train gives descriptions in English of what is at each train destination, you just have to pay close attention.
Once you arrive in Sannomiya, you have to find your own way to your destination. Your first step would be leaving the Portliner station then you can hop onto the Hankyu Line, Hanshin Line or the JR Station. If you have the tourist travel pass then JR is the right station and luckily right next to the Portliner station. If you are staying in Sannomiya, then problem solved. Check into your hotel, and dive into the city.
The ferry shuttle across the bay is an incredibly convenient and interesting way to arrive in Japan. It’s also great for tourists as you are able to get 45% off the ticket price and can even reserve your seats up to three months in advance using the English web page. So, if you’re looking for another scenic way to get to your destination from Kansai airport, this is a perfect way to start your holiday in Japan!