Thursday, 18 February 2010

Plane, Train and ... Ferry!

One of the many ways to get to Kobe—but relatively unknown—is the Kobe-Kanku Bay Shuttle ferry between Kansai Airport and Kobe Airport. Depending on the amount of luggage you have, the Limousine bus or the train will save you lugging heavy bags up and down staircases. If you are staying in downtown Kobe, the Sannomiya (三宮)-Motomachi (元町) area, the ferry is a cheaper alternative to the bus or the train—depending on the route.

I, personally, found it difficult to navigate—even after checking their web site—when I used it, late last year. Hopefully, this guide will make it easier.

First, buy your ticket at the vending machine (or at the counter) just inside the Door A at the Arrival Lobby on ground level. (Tickets are not available from the limousine bus machines outside, so don’t waste time, like I did, looking for the right button to press.) The machine-bought ticket is only valid for the ferry, so you will need to receive a ticket for the Portliner monorail (included in the fare) from Kobe Airport to Sannomiya Stn from the staff. The shuttle bus from the Kansai Airport terminal building to the ferry pier leaves from bus stop no. 12.

On arrival at the ferry terminal at Kobe Airport Kaijo Access Terminal, be sure to take the bus that is waiting ­at the pier for the monorail station. Having left from Kobe Airport on my trip, I assumed the shuttle bus to Kobe Airport terminal would pick us up from the stop in front of Kaijo Access Terminal. Wrong! It was at the pier and I had missed it. I missed the announcement (you tend to block them out after a while, no?), but there was also a lack of signs. The next bus? One hour later. Consequently, I had to drag my heavy bags in the rain across the car park to Kobe Airport Stn.

From Sannomiya, Kobe:
When leaving from Sannomiya to catch the ferry to Kansai Airport, be sure to buy your ferry ticket and monorail ticket as a set from the Portliner Information office before you get on the Portliner monorail, otherwise you will pay for both tickets. The office is located at the top of the escalators coming from JR Sannomiya Stn East Exit. The staff are very helpful in suggesting what time to catch the Portliner to make the ferry on time. The tickets can also be bought in advance.

On arrival at Kobe Airport, you will need to take the stairs or the elevator in front of the Kobe Airport Stn ticket gates to ground level. If the weather is fine and you have some time before the ferry leaves, walk across the car park to the ferry terminal building.

(Translations have been commissioned for additional signage for the ferry, so I hope the service is easier for people to use and patronised by more people.)

Official web site:
Kobe-Kanku Bay Shuttle (

Other useful links:
Jorudan (
Jorudan not only covers trains, but also planes and buses.
Limousine Bus (
Kansai Airport (
Kobe Airport (

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