Travel from Kansai Airport to JR Nara Station

Travel in a foreign country can be challenging, especially if one cannot read and understand the language. This is even more the case for people being in Japan for the first time.

To ease the travel to the Real Time Conference Site, this page has been assembled based on pictures taken by two of the organizers on a prior trip. We hope that it will help everybody to travel to Nara.

Arrival at Kansai Airport

Osaka has two airports, Kansai International Airport (KIX) and Osaka International Airport Itami (ITM). Most of you will probably arrive at Kansai Airport when coming from Europe or the US. After immigration and customs, you come through one of two arrival doors, either International Arrival South or International Arrival North. You will be impressed by the huge arrival hall if you have not been there before, so just turn around and you will see a Currency Exchange counter at each of the arrivals.

Here you can exchange cash to Japanese Yen (1 US$ ~ 100 JPY) if you like. The alternative is to withdraw cash from an ATM. Please note that the use of credit cards is not so common in Japan as in the US for example, so for smaller restaurants and some shops you might need cash. The ATM is located next to exit "B" at the arrival hall.

The machine on the left is for international cards and includes Master, Visa, Maestro, Plus and Cirrus. The ATM has a button on the touch screen for the English menu. After you select the langue it behaves like any other ATM.

Bus to Nara

If you exit the arrival hall, go to your right about 20 m for the bus stop #9.

You will find a coarse map with your current position (KIX) and the JR Nara station (85 min. travel time, Bus Stop #9).
Next to map there is a booth where you can buy the bus ticket.

Alternatively, you can buy a ticket from the ticket machine.

There is again a button at the right top for an English menu. Select JR Nara Station, press the buttons on the left next to the screen for "Round-trip" if you want to come back to Kansai by bus after the conference and select one or two persons. A single return ticket will be 3800 JPY. The machine accepts bills and coins, but no international credit cards.

Then proceed to bus stop #9.

Here is the bus schedule.

Buses will run to Nara every hour 40 minutes after the hour from 7:40 to 21:40. Please note that on the hour and 20 minutes after the hour there are different buses which will not bring you to Nara. So just wait for the correct time. Buses leave pretty precisely in Japan.

The bus ride will take approximately 85 minutes. There are several stops in and close to Nara, so please wait for the final stop. If you stay at the Nikko Nara Hotel, you have to go through the train station and will find the hotel directly on the other side, just where the two people are going:

The lobby is on the 3rd floor, so you have to go up two floors. Note that on the 2nd floor there is a clinic, so don't enter there! The hotel has two restaurants (English spoken), a small shop and bicycles to rent. The train station (30m walking distance) has several supermarkets (open 7:00 ~ 23:00), a bakery and souvenir shops.

Taking the bus from the Nikko Nara Hotel to the conference venue

The conference will prepare a shuttle bus departing in front of the hotel. If you cannot take the bus for some reason, you can walk to the conference venu or take the public bus. The walk is 2.4 km and nice, you will see many shops and restaurants:

Taking the public bus is a bit more challenging, since everything is written in Japanese and the bus driver probably won't speak English. So go to bus stop #1 in front of the JR train station:

The destination on the right lower corner shows your bus which is bound for Kasugataisha Honden. If you can remember the Kanji letters (finally it's just pattern matching...), you will find them on the bus and on the time table again:

Take one of the bus lines 70, 97 or 98. Enter the bus from the middle door, not the front door.

Pull a ticket from the machine when you enter the bus:

The ticket carries a number, and a table at the front of the bus shows what you have to pay when you exit the bus. The costs increase the further you travel. In my case, I had number 15, and I had to pay 200 JPY when I arrived.

It is a bit difficult to find out at which stop to exit the bus. Most tourist visit the Big Buddha (Daibutsuden), which is one stop before the conference venue. So the bus driver might urge you to exit there because he thinks you are a tourist. So refuse to exit and wait one more stop, which is called "Ken Shinkokaido" (New Prefecture Hall). The bus driver will understand "Ken Shinkokaido" if you pronounce it half way correct. Just try the speaking tool of Google Translate for practicing. Here is how the hall will look like from the bus stop:

You have to pay the final fare in coins.

Throw the coins together with the ticket on the top slot of the machine when you exit the bus in the front.

If you have only bills, insert the bill in the black slot at the front of the machine, and you will get coins, which you then have to insert at the top. The driver will assist you. It's a logical put pretty unusual scheme if you never haven been in Japan.

Now it's just a short walk to the conference venu. Enjoy your stay and the conference.

Stefan Ritt
December 2013