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The most convenient airports for those living in Shiga Prefecture are Kansai International Airport and Itami Airport in Osaka, and Nagoya International Airport. The most widely used airport, Kansai International Airport, can be reached in a number of ways. All forms of transportation from the airport must be paid for in Japanese cash. Credit cards cannot be used. Foreign currency can be exchanged at the desk next to the international arrivals gate at the airport.
The Haruka train is the fastest and the most comfortable way to reach the airport, but also the most expensive. The Haruka train runs directly between Kyoto Station and Kansai Internationl airport. All seats are reserved and can be purchased for 3,490 yen (4,220 yen for a first class seat). It takes about about 1.5 hours to reach the airport from Kyoto. Trains leave Kyoto aproximately every 20-30 minutes between aproximately 5:45 and 20:00, and leave the airport between aproximately 6:30 and 22:20.

JR Express Trains:
One can ride the regular Shinkaisoku trains from the JR Biwako Line, through Kyoto and on to Osaka Station. At Osaka Station, transfer to the Wing Express on the Osaka Loop Line platform, and go directly to Kansai International Airport. The cost is about 2,200 yen between the airport and Otsu and takes about 2 hours.
Limousine buses depart and arrive at a variety of major stations around the prefecture. The cost is less than the Haruka and requires no transfers between stations.
  • Kansai to/from Hama Otsu Prince Hotel 2,600 yen
  • Kansai to/from Kusatsu 2,850 yen
  • Kansai to/from Yokaichi 3,350 yen
  • Kansai to/from Hikone/Hikone Prince Hotel 3,800 yen
Due to traffic congestion, the buses cannot run on as tight a schedule as the trains do, so it is not advised to take the buses to the airport, but they are a very convenient way to return home. Advanced purchase of tickets is not necessary nor recommended for the trip from the airport to your destination. However, in the event that you decide to ride the bus to the airport, use the following numbers to make reservations:
  • Otsu: 077-537-5500
  • Omihachiman: 0748-23-8103
  • Hikone: 0749-22-8103

    Offices are open between 9:00 and 18:00.
Nagoya International Airport can also be as convenient as Osaka for those living on the east side of the lake. Nagoya Station can be reached by express train from Maibara in about 45 minutes. The airport is a bus ride from there, but, as Nagoya International Airport does not charge an airport tax, it can be cheaper for many. The tax for travel from Kansai International Airport is 2,650 yen and is paid, as you enter the gate area, by purchasing a shuttle ticket.

Buses from Nagoya Station to the Airport
(This information provided by Justin Thorne)

There are buses available from two locations at Nagoya Station- (1) the Meitetsu Bus Center and (2) the Shinkansen entrance.

The Meitetsu Bus Center is located next to Nagoya Station on the 3rd floor of the Melsa/Meitetsu Grand Hotel Building, which is behind and adjacent to the Kintetsu department store. The shuttles run between 6:00 AM and 8:25 PM, with 8 buses an hour between 7:00 AM and 5:00 PM, at :00, :07, :15, :22, :30, :37, :45 and :52. It normally takes about 30 minutes for the trip, but budget 40-45 minutes for Nagoya traffic.

I haven't taken the bus from the Shinkansen entrance before, but the bus stop is apparently located right outside the west station exit, near the Meitetsu NEW Grand Hotel. There are fewer buses from this location, running on average 3 an hour (:00, :20, :40) between 7:00 AM and 6:40 PM. It takes about 5 minutes longer to reach the airport using shuttles from this location, but that is offset by the difference in walking time from the Shinkansen platform to the bus stop (3-4 minutes for this one, 10 minutes for the bus center).

From either location, the fare is 870 yen.

Here are a couple URLs for those who feel like sifting their way through a Japanese website:

(Time table/bus stop location map)

(A more detailed map)

Luggage can be shipped directly to the airport through a "takuhaibin" service. The luggage will be picked up at your home, and shipped to the airport where you can pick it up at the 4th floor counter at Kansai International Airport.
JTB Takuhai Center 0129-688-865 0724-56-0946
(For locations other than Kansai International Airport)

This service can also be used to ship your bags back home when you return. Costs depend on weight, but are usually between 2,000 and 2,500 per bag.

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