Landing in Osaka, Japan

All you need to know about landing at Osaka’s busy Kansai International Airport, getting out, and the best transport cards for long-term travel through Japan.

After 3 years of no overseas travel mainly due to COVID-19, the 2-year sojourn from Australia begins with 4 nights in Singapore. Then, continues with landing in Osaka to start exploring Japan for 7 weeks. Although without a real plan or schedule and instead, booking everything along the way, travelling is going to be epic!

Where is Osaka?

Located on Japan’s densely populated main island of Honshu, Osaka sits roughly in the centre and in the Kansai region.

Osaka location, Japan, Asia

As the 10th-largest urban area in the world, Osaka is Japan’s second-largest metropolitan area with Tokyo the first.

Getting there

In March 2023, the cheapest flight from Singapore to Osaka is on the brightly-coloured low-cost Scoot Airline.

Scoot airplane, Singapore to Osaka, Japan, Asia
Funky Scoot names

As you need proof of onward travel when landing in Japan, we also booked the exit ticket to Stockholm. This is the next destination after 7 weeks in Japan. Planning this far ahead is not always ideal but sometimes, you have no option.

Singapore to Osaka is a 6.5-hour flight, so purchasing a meal on Scoot is wise. However, as the meal wasn’t great and not worth the money, it’s best to take your own food.

The descent across Osaka Bay is picturesque but with the immediate scenery quite flat and mountains in the distance.

Map of #Singapore, SE Asia, #Osaka, #Japan, East Asia

It’s always exciting and a real buzz landing in a new country, especially after several years of not travelling.

Scoot flight attendants are very accommodating and fun, providing great service with a smile. Adding a touch of difference from other airline companies, even colourful lights come to life in the cabin marking the end of the flight.

Cabin lights, Scoot airplane, Singapore to Osaka, Japan, Asia
End of the flight cabin lights

Ordering a Snack Pack “meal” online by mistake when booking the flight, the meal is disappointing. Containing only a can of drink, small bottled water, peanuts, biscuits, and a small chocolate bar, the snack pack is marginally worse than the other pre-ordered average-tasting hot meal.

Scoot flight food, Singapore to Osaka, Japan, Asia
Infamous Snack pack but a cute reusable bag

Dissarray at Osaka’s Kansai International Airport (KIX)

Arriving half an hour late at Osaka’s Kansai International Airport, one of Japan’s largest and busiest airports, we taxied into Terminal 2, which is where low-cost airlines arrive.

Osaka airport, Japan, Asia
Landing in Osaka

Shunted into a long queue, it’s chaos. Spending the last four nights in orderly Singapore and leaving from organised Changi Airport, Kansai Airport’s confused state is a stark contrast.

Airport staff holding up multiple signs everywhere direct passengers in Japanese through the long airport walkway, around numerous corners, and down separate queues. The wrong queue it turns out because if you have a COVID-19 vaccination certificate, this fast-tracks the process and queues.

Immigration queue, Osaka airport, Japan, Asia
The long and winding queue!

Without much English, it’s disorderly and a mess as most passengers are non-Japanese speaking foreigners. We wait in line for 1.5 hours just to be told that because we have the correct certificates, we are in the wrong queue. Not wanting to join a shorter line to wait again after the already long wait, reluctantly, the officer enters our details into her computer. Poorly organised and badly communicated, and this was just to clear immigration.

Collecting our backpacks and walking through customs is a breeze in comparison to immigration – a pleasant surprise. As Kansai Airport is located on a man-made island around 40 kilometres south of Osaka, taking a train is one of the cheapest ways to get to Osaka. Scoot arrives at Terminal 2, so you need to take the unmanned train shuttle to Kansai Airport Station, which is next to Terminal 1.

shuttle train, Osaka airport, Japan, Asia
Leaving the Main Terminal

Transport out of Kansai International Airport

As the booked apartment is in the Kita (Umeda) Ward, the train on Platform 3 from Kansai leaves for Osaka every 30 minutes with this journey taking around one hour and 10 minutes.

Unfortunately, an international Mastercard is not accepted to buy tickets (¥‎1,210) for the train journey to Osaka’s Fukushima Ward (a short walk from the Umeda hotel). Only cash is accepted.

With the flight arriving late, delay at immigration then missing the train, it’s almost 8 pm, but the train is still packed with office commuters.

Criss-crossing multiple rivers and bridges, we arrive at the hotel later than expected.

train from Kansai International Airport to Fukushima Ward, Japan, Asia

What card is best for travel in Japan?

This is a good time to talk about Japan’s travel cards and this section will help you to decide which travel card is best suited during your stay in Japan. The length of stay and where you are travelling in Japan dictates the type of transport card to buy as getting around Japan can be pricey. Especially, if using the popular Shinkansen (Bullet) trains.

IC Cards

In 2023, ten types of IC cards are available. These are rechargeable cards (by cash only) to pay for fares on public transportation. You can also use these cards to pay in many vending machines, restaurants, and shops by touching the card on a reader for about one second.

IC Cards, Japan, Asia

Check this Japan Guide for full details and the fine print as of course, each card has limitations. Including, which type of transport a card can and cannot be used in Japan, but also, throughout the different regions and islands of Japan.

Japan Rail (JR) Pass

In addition to these IC Cards is the favourable JR Rail Pass, which only foreign tourists can purchase.

With the JR Rail Pass, you can take unlimited rides on JR trains, certain Shinkansen trains, and JR buses during the pass’s time frame, but on certain lines. There is always a catch and not every card allows you on every type of transport to everywhere in Japan.

One downside to the JR Rail Pass is the time restriction. A pass lasts for 7, 14, or 21 consecutive days and as soon as you use the pass for a journey, the clock starts ticking. So, you feel as though you need to use the pass every day to make it worthwhile.

So, which card?

For long-term travel of 7 weeks, we opted for ICOCA cards, followed by a Suica card when one ICOCA card was accidentally lost.

These cards turned out to be the most beneficial for longer travel through Japan because you can top us as you go and don’t feel as though you’re wasting a day of travel. The recharge machines are at every train station, most 7/11 convenience stores, and most bus stations.

You can also print a history transaction summary of your travel trips including trip costs at the vending machines. These are very efficient cards. However, certain regional lines and some buses do not accept any cards. For these journeys, you need to buy separate tickets at a station’s machine or a ticket booth. Most recharge machines include English.

Buying the ICOCA card for ¥2,000 at the Umeda (main Osaka) railway station’s machine with cash only includes a ¥500 refundable deposit when returning the card, but in Osaka only. Check the Osaka Metro map for train route details.

Where to eat and sleep

Osaka offers a plethora of amazing restaurants, huge supermarkets, undercover markets and food avenues, and cosy tiny street stalls, but so much more. Osaka really is food heaven.

Check back next week for a detailed post on where to eat and sleep during your stay in Osaka, to help you stick to your budget and make your cash go further…

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more global images. More posts at Image Earth Travel.

Note: All photos by Nilla’s Photography unless otherwise mentioned. No part of this post was composed with the help of ChatGPT or AI.

landing in #Japan, #Osaka, #Asia
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42 responses to “Landing in Osaka, Japan”

  1. Roentare Avatar

    I love Osaka as a city. So its proximity to Kyoto and Nara. The airport is indeed a nightmare but still better than Tokyo Narita.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. Funnily enough, I had no issues when landing in Narita (internal flight from Sapporo), and leaving from Narita to Stockholm, but this was 7 weeks later so maybe Japan got itself more organised. 😉
      I have a few more posts on Osaka, so stay tuned…

  2. gillmorris Avatar

    Yay, travels begin again. Looks good so far! 🙂 xx

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Yes at last! Started on 3rd of March so well into it now and I have around 30 posts in draft so far…
      Doing the Glastonbury Festival next week, so a few days of camping – hope it doesn’t rain! x

  3. equinoxio21 Avatar

    How do you find the time to write posts while travelling? 👍🏻

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      With great difficulty Brian! I usually write up notes at night from each day as I don’t have a great memory for place names. So far, I have 31 posts in draft already since leaving Australia in March.
      It’s the selecting, reducing size, and copyrighting of photos which takes me loads of time. I think this is why Vlogging is becoming so popular. People like to watch videos instead of reading a post. Is blogging dead? 😉

      1. equinoxio21 Avatar

        I don’t think blogging is dead. Like many other forms it is eveolveing constantly. (I am starting to post videos too, but those have “cost me 2-3 years of work…) I also try to keep my posts short.
        31 drafts is impressive… 👏🏻

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        I hope not but I’ve read online that bloggers are moving to vlogging. I’m not very active on my YouTube channel.
        Wow, that’s a lot of work but that’s mostly digitising your mother’s family videos I think you mentioned. I try to keep to a minimum of 1,000 words for SEO, but I don’t think it’s doing any good, ha, ha,. 😉
        Thank you but I have to keep notes otherwise, no notes make the old grey matter work even harder. I find it better to just do this directly in WP. I used to do my notes in Word then upload to WP, but it’s double-handling and time-consuming, so no point – think we spoke of this before.
        You’ve been busy posting the last week or two – just popping over to your latest post. 😉

      3. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Notes in Word? Wow. Very thorough… I don’t take notes. Now, I take a shot of the “label” if it’s art in a museum. Or the street plate. And for the rest, I use Google images. That’s how I was able to identify some of the temples in my parent’s Bangkok 56 movie… They had not “written” everything down…
        Just chance, I had advanced posts (terima kasih to you), time to post them, plus I’m leaving in a fortnight, and won’t post for a while… 😉

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Yeah, maybe it’s because I’m a Technical Writer or maybe it was a natural progression from when I used to keep travel journals.
        I also take photos of signs and places to help with names.
        That’s impressive, imagine trying to work that out pre-Google days – nigh impossible or hours spent in a library.
        Ah, very cool, scheduling in advance is still a good strategy if you can keep it up. I’m struggling whilst travelling. 😉
        I’ve forgotten where you’re going or for how long this time?

      5. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Yet, I do remember my days – and nights- in the Business Library and the index cards with fondness. That’s where I learnt (learned?) to do serious research. You had to be very focussed, no time to waste for your paper…
        We’re going to New York and Canada. Right smack into the fires and smoke. LOL. 3 weeks or so.

      6. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        How times have changed. Does that mean that with technology we’re not as focused? 😉
        Hope you have a wonderful trip and look forward to reading your Canada posts. I haven’t been to Canada yet.

      7. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Wow! A country you missed? 😉
        It’s possible that the apparent facility of tech leads us to more dispersion. Simply doing research for a paper at a time when all was printed and Xerox copies were expensive, you had to make sure the articles you wanted to use were the right ones… Focussed! 😉

      8. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Ha, ha, cheeky! 🙂
        It’s a similar concept to a film camera vs a DLSR camera – film you take one shot and need to be diligent, with DSLR you take 20 as it doesn’t matter.

      9. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Excellent example. You surely remember the days of analog cameras, when films were expensive, and good quality film was not available everywhere. So you took only so many rolls to the jungle and thought carefully every shot you would take. Now? I take a couple of shots, without even framing much, the adjust and scrap in Photoshop.

      10. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        I still use 35mm film cameras so it’s a luxury when taking more than one shot, though a film camera really trains your eye. 😉

      11. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Oh, you still do? Great.
        I agree, a film camera did train one’s eye. Focus… It’s probably why I I take quick shots now…

      12. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Yes, and I have a swag of film cameras and my own darkroom equipment but think I may have mentioned that in the past.
        Focus and patience. 😉

      13. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Now being a Techincal writer does force you to note or file every detail. Can’t miss a single bolt.

      14. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Ha, ha, sadly it does but not great when I’m trying to write creatively! Feel myself slipping back into the “telling” instead of “showing”. 😉

      15. equinoxio21 Avatar

        What would be wrong about telling? Isn’t it a complement of showing?

      16. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Telling can be a little sterile, instructional, and boring whereas showing is creating an intriguing scene so that readers want to continue reading.

      17. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Okay. So it’s probably just a matter of balance. The important thing is that you should be satisfied with the result. When you had your exhibition in Italy, I’m sure you selected each shot to speak for itself, with a minimum caption.

      18. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        I think it is a balance and your style of writing captures this very well.
        Correct…I did indeed. I’ve had more than one solo exhibition and been a part of a few group exhibitions but for each image in an exhibition, I can only write a short caption. Art is subjective.

      19. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Each image is a show on its own… True

      20. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Agree 😉

  4. Yetismith Avatar

    Interesting to read about Singapore Airline’s “little sister”. So many new airlines around. It’s amazing really considering the risks of running an airline given the number of problems that can sink an airline in a matter of days. If anyone can make it work I think it would be SQ. I’m assuming the ordeal of your arrival was due to the huge crowd in that terminal and shortage of facilities. Japan has always struck me as very organised but coming from Singapore, it must have been a shock to the system. All of those credit cards and machines would give me a nervous breakdown! Great info, though! Is it as difficult as it seems, not being a Japanese speaker?

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Scoot isn’t too bad especially considering the price and are better than Ryanair, which I’ve used quite a bit from southern Italy to Stansted.
      I think the ordeal in early March was because it wasn’t long that Japan opened its borders again to tourists. Maybe Japan wasn’t ready for the influx. Alarm bells should have gone off weeks before leaving Australia when we tried to buy Japanese Yen, but banks and online facilities were sold out of cash.
      Sometimes it’s difficult as we didn’t stay in 5 Star accommodation where English is expected. Signs can be in both Japanese and English, especially at the larger transport hubs so that’s helpful. Although, the further away you travel from the tourist milk-run or deeper into country areas, the less English is spoken, as expected.
      I absolutely loved the 7 weeks in Japan and would love to return. I have over 20 drafts that I need to publish.

  5. Abirbhav Avatar

    I think my comment got lost somewhere.. The post is very informative and relatable, though I am shocked to know about your harrowing experience during immigration.. I landed in Haneda Airport and I must say this was the only immigration + customs check where I didn’t queue up at all.. Infact it took me merely 3 minutes to get out of the immigration + customs sections ..

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Yes, I just found it in my trash folder so not sure what WP is up to – annoying.
      Maybe it’s just in Kansai airport. The joys of travelling. 🙂

      1. Abirbhav Avatar

        Oh yes, talking of the glitches of WP.. I remember many of your comments being sent to spam.. That incident made me personally monitor the spam folder on a daily basis..

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Ha, ha, I’ve mentioned this glitch to several bloggers and now they too avidly check both their spam and trash folders.

  6. Abirbhav Avatar

    Oh, and forgot to mention that I have taken the liberty to follow you on Instagram, of course, if you permit..

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Great, thank you for letting me know – much appreciated. I’ve just also followed you, but I’m not on Insta so much.

      1. Abirbhav Avatar

        Thank you so much for following me.. 🙂 Very much appreciated.. 🙂

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        You’re welcome and thanks again! 🙂

  7. Abirbhav Avatar

    As usual, this is a fantastic post on Japan and tips for traveling in and around the city of Osaka..
    I landed in Haneda Airport and departed through the Narita Airport (both in Tokyo).. I am quite shocked to see the harrowing experience you had during immigration.. For me, that was a real breeze, in fact, the only time in my life when I didn’t queue up for immigration.. The whole immigration+customs took me less than 3 minutes.. Partly this is because I registered myself on the Visit Japan website and had QR codes with me including the status of vaccination..
    Coming to IC Cards, their importance cannot be understated.. However, it’s strange to note that Japan doesn’t have a uniform IC card like Singapore.. Maybe they will in due course of time.. Let’s see..
    The tips and experiences are quite relatable and complemented with photographs (of which I seldom have the patience to click).. Thank you for sharing.. 🙂 🙂

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you for your kind feedback!
      Flew from Sapporo to Narita then from Narita to Stockholm (via Bangkok) and didn’t have the issues experienced in Kansai.
      We also registered on the site and had paper certificates but as I don’t speak Japanese (only a few conversational words) and airport staff didn’t speak English, everyone was shunted into queues, and we found out too late.
      Agree, it would be handy to have just one card as in Singapore. Maybe it’s because Singapore is much smaller and only under 6 million population (2023) and Japan’s population is over 125 million.
      Ha, ha, wait until you see the food photos – I’m drooling over the next post as missing Japanese food already! 😉

      1. Abirbhav Avatar

        Well, do visit my blog if you are missing Japanese food (a feeling I share with you).. It can’t satiate your craving for such delectable food, but can persuade you to visit Japan again, soon, for food.. 😉

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Well, the truth is that I don’t need any persuasion to head back to Japan and as I mentioned on one of your blogs, I’d love to return to Hokkaido and explore more…

  8. 100 Country Trek Avatar

    We visited there a few years . I love your adventure. Anita

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you, Anita.
      Can’t remember if you mentioned this before, but how long were you in Osaka for and where else did you visit in Japan?

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