Osaka's Kansai International Airport (KIX; tel. 072/455-2500; www.kansai-airport.or.jp) receives both domestic and international flights. The two major domestic airlines that fly into KIX are Japan Airlines (JAL; www.jal.com) and All Nippon Airways (ANA; www.ana.co.jp). From Tokyo's Haneda and Narita airports, flight time is about 1 1/4 hours. A JAL fare is ¥23,600 one-way, though discount fares go as low as ¥11,100.
Arriving at KIX -- Arriving at KIX, you experience Japan at its modern best. Constructed on a huge man-made island 5km (3 miles) off the mainland in Osaka Bay and connected to the city by a six-lane highway and two-rail line bridge, this 24-hour airport boasts the latest in technology -- glass elevators ferry passengers to the four floors of the complex in an atrium setting, dozens of computers spread throughout the terminal provide Internet access for ¥100 per 10 minutes, and touch screens provide information in many languages. And, like the city itself, it's traveler-friendly: Signs are clear and abundant, and facilities -- which range from restaurants and shops to a post office (second floor south; Mon-Sat 8am-7pm, Sun 8am-5pm), ATMs that accept foreign credit cards, a children's playroom in the international departure area (free of charge), cellphone rental counters, and dental and medical clinics -- are seemingly endless.
Getting from KIX to Osaka -- Taxis are prohibitively expensive: Expect to spend at least ¥17,000 for an hour's cab ride to the city center. Easiest, especially if you have luggage, is the Kansai Airport Transportation Enterprise (tel. 072/461-1374; www.kate.co.jp), which provides bus service to major stations and a few hotels in Osaka (and even stations in Kyoto and Kobe). Most fares cost ¥1,500, and tickets can be purchased at counters in the arrival lobby. Another bus service, the OCAT Shuttle (tel. 06/6635-3000; www.ocat.co.jp), travels from KIX to the Osaka City Air Terminal (a downtown bus station for shuttle buses going to the airport), next to JR Namba Station (the major train station in Namba) in the heart of Osaka; buses depart every 30 minutes for the 48-minute ride and cost ¥1,000.
If you want to take the train into Osaka or even farther to Kyoto, simply walk through KIX's second-floor connecting concourse (baggage carts are designed to go on escalators and as far as train ticket gates). The JR Airport Express Haruka, which travels to Tennoji and Shin-Osaka stations before continuing to Kyoto, departs about twice an hour; the fare to Shin-Osaka is ¥2,470 for the 50-minute trip. Slower is the JR Rapid Service (JR Kanku Kaisoku), which travels from the airport to Tennoji and Osaka stations. The 70-minute trip to Osaka Station costs ¥1,320. Note: When returning to the airport from Osaka, make sure you're in a compartment that goes all the way to KIX; not all of them do. If you a have a Japan Rail Pass, you can ride these trains for free. Exchange your voucher at the Kansai Airport (rail) Station on the third floor (daily 6am-11:30pm).
Next to the JR trains in the same station at the airport is the private Nankai Line, which has three types of trains to Namba Nankai Station. The sleek rapi:t a (pronounced "rapito alpha") train reaches Namba in 35 minutes. There's one train an hour, and ordinary reserved seats cost ¥1,390. The rapi:t b ("rapito beta") at the same price stops at more stations, including Sakai, and takes 39 minutes. You can also take an ordinary Nankai Express Line for ¥890 and reach Namba in 43 minutes.
Itami Airport -- If you're arriving on a domestic flight, chances are you'll arrive at Itami Airport (ITM; tel. 06/6856-6781), north of the city. Buses connect to various parts of Osaka; to Osaka Station, the ride takes 25 minutes and costs ¥620.
Osaka is 3 hours from Tokyo by Shinkansen bullet train; tickets are ¥13,240 for an unreserved seat (the Nozomi Shinkansen, which is not valid with a Japan Rail Pass, is faster and more expensive). All Shinkansen bullet trains arrive at Shin-Osaka Station at the city's northern edge. To get from Shin-Osaka Station to Osaka Station and other points south, use the most convenient public transportation, the Midosuji Line subway; the subway stop at Osaka Station is called Umeda Station. JR trains also make runs between Shin-Osaka and Osaka stations.
If you haven't turned in your voucher for your Japan Rail Pass yet, you can do so at Osaka Station's or Shin-Osaka Station's Green Windows (daily 5:30am-11pm).
If you're arriving in Osaka from Kobe or Kyoto, the commuter lines, which will deliver you directly to Osaka Station in the heart of the city, are more convenient than the Shinkansen, which will deposit you at out-of-the-way Shin-Osaka Station.
JR "Dream" night buses depart from both Tokyo Station's Yaesu exit and Shinjuku Station's New South exit several times nightly (including a bus just for women), arriving at Osaka Station about 9 hours later and costing ¥5,000. Cheaper still is a nightly JR Seisyun Eco Dream bus from both Tokyo Station (at 11pm) and Shinjuku Station (at 9:50pm) for ¥4,300, arriving at Osaka Station at 7:03am and 6:13am respectively. There are also many JR day buses from Tokyo Station to Osaka Station costing ¥6,000. Tickets for most buses can be bought at any major JR station, JR bus terminal, or at a travel agency; for inquiries, call tel. 03/3516-1950 (tel. 03/3844-0489 for reservations) or check www.jrbuskanto.co.jp. In addition, Willer Express (tel. 050/5805-0383; http://travel.willer.co.jp) buses depart Tokyo and Shinjuku stations several times nightly, arriving at Osaka Station the next morning. The cost of these range from ¥4,200 to ¥8,600, depending on the date and type of seat (reclining seats cost more); only online reservations are accepted.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.