Hello Kitty Haruka: The Cutest Train Between Osaka and Kyoto

While planning your trip to Japan, you might have read about the Hello Kitty Shinkansen. But did you know that there is also a Hello Kitty train? Although there are both really cute, they are also significantly different. This is why I wanted to write this post, so you can be aware of the differences and know exactly what to expect.

The Hello Kitty Haruka train is a themed express train that operates between Kansai International Airport and Kyoto. It costs around 3,600 yen to reach Kyoto in 75–80 minutes. This train also stops at other main stations along the way (Tennoji, Osaka and Shin-Osaka).

In the next paragraphs, I will explain to you everything you need to know about this train (route, tickets, price, seats, and tips), and a few pictures of my latest ride.

What is the Hello Kitty Haruka Train?

Hello Kitty Haruka Train
Hello Kitty Haruka Train
© Ana Costa

Like I told you before, the Hello Kitty Haruka is an express train that goes from Kansai airport to Osaka and Kyoto. It is usually the best transfer option when you’re landing at Kansai airport, and you want to reach the nearest city.

It can reach a speed of 130 km/h (ca. 81 mph), making it a fast transfer solution, but it is not as fast as the Shinkansen (read about the shinkansen details on my previous post).

While the Hello Kitty Haruka Train shares the same character theme as the Hello Kitty Shinkansen, they have different travel routes and characteristics.

The Hello Kitty Haruka Train primarily serves as an airport express, providing convenient transportation between Kansai International Airport and Kyoto/Osaka. On the other hand, the Hello Kitty Shinkansen operates on the Sanyo Shinkansen line, connecting major cities like Osaka and Hakata in Kyushu Island, offering long-distance travel options for passengers.

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The Hello Kitty Haruka is not a bullet train. If you want to read about the Hello Kitty Shinkansen, you can check out my other article about it.

I will also give you the link to the Hello Kitty Haruka official website, if you want to check it out, too.

Hello Kitty Haruka Stops

Hello Kitty Haruka Train Stops
Hello Kitty Haruka Train Stops
© Ana Costa

Most of the time, the Hello Kitty Haruka only stops 3 times between the Kansai Airport and Kyoto (Tennoji, Osaka, and Shin-Osaka). However, early in the morning, or during the evening, some Haruka also stop at a few extra stations. Keep that in mind if you use one of these trains, and don’t be surprised if you see a few more stops (usually 2 stops).

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I know that I used to count the stops on my first trip to Japan to avoid getting off at the wrong station, so this can be misleading in those cases. But don’t worry because most trains have a screen announcing each station in English and Japanese, so you will be able to follow.

You can also use a timetable to check the number of stops and the schedule.

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Hello Kitty Haruka Timetable

The first information you can easily find online is the time travel time for the Hello Kitty Haruka. This is important information, especially when you’re planning to arrive late at the hotel. This way, you can know if you have enough time to get to the hotel after landing.

As you can see in the table below, the Hello Kitty Haruka is pretty fast, and it can get you to Kyoto in about 75 minutes. Please notice that this is the travel time to Kyoto station, so if you’re staying in the center of Kyoto, you’ll have to plan additional time to reach your hotel.

FromToTravel Time
Kansai AirportKyoto~75 min
Kansai AirportShin-Osaka~50 min
Kansai AirportOsaka~45 min
Kansai AirportTennoji~35 min
Kansai-Airport Express “HARUKA” Travel Times

From Kansai airport, the first train is after 6:30 am and the last one is around 10:15 pm. From Kyoto station, the first Haruka train starts around 5:45 am and the last one is around 8:30 pm.

There are 30 trains each way daily, so if you miss one, there’s a great chance that the next one will be coming shortly thereafter.

I had a really hard time finding a timetable file for the Hello Kitty Haruka. I don’t know why, but this is usually the case when I’m trying to find timetables for Japan public transportation. You can easily find the expected travel times, which is great, but has a tourist I would like to have a timetable to easily plan my trip. If you’re like me, don’t worry, I always try to find them for you.

For your trip, you can use this 2024 Haruka timetable PDF file I found, or you can search for the train departure times using the official search website for the Haruka Service.

As usual, you can always use JapanTravel by Navitime which is a useful website that I use all the time to check for routes in Japan. If you need help using it, I made a detailed video explaining in detail how to do it.

How to Use Japan Travel by Navitime

Hello Kitty Haruka Tickets and Price

I find tickets in Japan a little difficult to understand for first-time visitors. For faster trains and some special trains, you will need an extra ticket. Usually, you have the regular train ticket plus an express ticket. This is the case with Jello Kitty Haruka train.

The train ticket price in Japan depends on several things. You have a regular train ticket price that is mostly based on the distance and the express ticket that is based on the type of seat you book and the season (peak season tickets often cost more). Also, children typically pay half the price.

I’m not going to detail all the prices, but keep in mind that, for the Hello Kitty Haruka, the regular train ticket to Kyoto is around ¥2200 and the express ticket can go from ¥1200 to ¥2300 at the moment. Therefore, you can expect to pay around ¥3500 for a trip to Kyoto on an unreserved seat.

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I will put you the link for the official website ticket prices so you can check it out before you plan your trip.

You can also use the Japan Rail pass for the Hello Kitty Haruka (if you are also doing several long-distance travels in a short amount of time). The Japan Rail pass is a little expensive since its price increase in October 2023, so you should only get it if you have other long-distance rides planned. Otherwise, there are also some regional passes that are less expensive and pretty useful. Here are some passes that you might want to check out:

  • JR Kansai Mini Pass: Valid for 3 consecutive days on JR lines in Kyoto, Osaka, Nara and Kobe. It costs around ¥3000, so it is an interesting option if you’re visiting these cities. You can buy the JR Kansai Mini Pass on Klook, for example. However, it only covers the regular ticket for the Hello Kitty Haruka, so you will have to buy the express ticket separately.
  • JR Kansai Area Pass: Valid for 1, 2, 3, or 4 consecutive days (depending on the pass you choose) on JR lines in Kyoto, Osaka, Nara and Kobe, but also Himeji, Wakayama and Otsu. This pass can be used for the Hello Kitty Haruka train (you don’t need to buy the express ticket as it is covered by this pass). For other express trains, you will need to buy the express ticket separately. The JR Kansai Area Pass can also be found on Klook.
  • JR Kansai Wide Area Pass: Valid for 5 consecutive days on the same JR lines as the JR Kansai Area Pass, but also in Okayama, Takamatsu, Kinosaki Onsen, Amanohashidate, Tottori, and Shirahama. You can check the current price for the JR Kansai Wide Area Pass on Klook.
  • JR Kansai-Hiroshima Area Pass: Valid for 5 consecutive days on the same JR lines as the JR Kansai Wide Area Pass, also includes Hiroshima and Miyajima Island. This pass can also be used on the Hello Kitty Shinkansen. You can buy the pass on Klook.

There are other regional passes available, but they cover less-visited areas, so I won’t detail them. Feel free to check out the JR West website if you want to know about all the passes available for West Japan.

Haruka Seat Reservation

Hello Kitty Haruka Train Seats
Hello Kitty Haruka Seats
© Ana Costa

The Hello Kitty Haruka train has non-reserved, reserved, and green seats. Each train usually has two or three cars with non-reserved seats. These are the least expensive, and the ones you will often use if you have a pass.

Then you have the reserved the cars. You can use these if you book a seat, and you will have the seat number printed on your ticket.

Finally, you have the green cars. They are not actually green, but this is the name Japan uses for first class seats. These are the most expensive ones, and there’s frequently fewer people using them, so they are pretty comfortable and calm.

Tips to Ride the Hello Kitty Haruka

  • Not all Haruka trains are Hello Kitty trains: There are a few Haruka trains that don’t have the Hello Kitty theme, so don’t be surprised if you ride one that is simply white.
  • Luggage storage compartments: While the Hello Kitty Haruka offers luggage storage, consider packing light for a smoother boarding and disembarking experience.
  • Book in advance: Advanced booking is highly recommended, especially during peak seasons. You can always use non-reserved cars, but you have to queue early to get a seat.
  • Arrive Early: Give yourself ample time to navigate the station and locate the platform for the Hello Kitty Haruka Train. Arriving early reduces stress and allows you to board the train comfortably without rushing.
  • Respect Fellow Passengers: Avoid excessive noise and ensure your belongings are stowed securely to minimize disruptions during the journey.
  • Download Navitime: Consider downloading a Japan travel app to find your platform. I use Japan Travel by Navitime on my trips to Japan.

In this post, I explained everything you need to know about the Hello Kitty Haruka train, like where it goes, how much tickets cost, and tips for riding it. I even shared some pictures from my recent trip, so you now have a pretty good idea of what you can expect.

Honestly, I think that the Hello Kitty Shinkansen is more impressive, but the Hello Kitty Haruka is a good option for those that don’t plan going to Hiroshima.

If there’s anything else you want to know about the Hello Kitty train, feel free to leave your question in the comments below. 🙂

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