Kensai International Airport
Japan’s Kensai International Airport hub took 12th place in 2015 for the World’s Best Airport conducted by SkyTrax. They won this place through a poll of nearly 12 million real life passengers. This is up two places from their 2014 14th place ranking. It’s also worthy of mentioning that Japan has three airports that made it into the top 14 rankings in 2015. They only have 7 airport hubs! Almost half of their airports are ranking in the top 14 spots in this poll—this is amazing.
This airport is huge. There are two terminals at Kensai’s airport hub and each has about four floors. Where a “normal” airport might have three smoking rooms, this one has at least four times as many. There are more than 40 places to eat just in Terminal 1. This is a huge number of restaurants to choose from. To give you a better idea of the magnitude, there are four Starbucks in just Terminal 1. They have the capacity to shuffle over 25 million people through this airport per year. This is about 12 million in the Domestic terminal and 13 in the International terminal.
Kensai’s transport hub is accessible by road if you are driving or taking a car—other forms of transportation over the road/bridge are prohibited by Japanese law so be sure to carefully read the signs. You can also get to Kensai by ferry if you prefer water travel or by railway for those leaving their car behind. Looking at the map on Kensai’s website the airport is a huge transportation hub and is on every major route within a 100 mile radius of the airport. The fastest way to get to the airport is by high speed train.
There are 32 Duty free shops in the Kensai International airport transit hub. Brand names such as Victoria’s Secret, Hermes, Montblanc Boutique and Tiffany and Co. are all available in the International Terminals 1 and 2. And you won’t just find accessories, you can also find perfume, liquor, cosmetics and high end boxed food items such as chocolates. One thing that is not offered is tobacco. In fact, at the time this article was written there was a post that as of 2011 there is no smoking in the airport. So the author assumes the ban on smoking also covered the sale of tobacco products in the airport as well. Interestingly enough, smoking rooms are available for those wishing to smoke. In fact there are at least thirteen places that are completely sealed off from the rest of the airport in which you can smoke—basically one in each terminal. For a smoke-free airport that doesn’t promote the sale of tobacco, that’s a lot of smoking rooms!
Many tourist booths and information about seeing the Kensai region of Japan can be found online. Book hotels right from the tourist information page on their website. Osaka is the closest town to the airport and there are many, many hotels to choose from. Osaka is only about 41 minutes from the Kensai transportation hub, and is home to Universal Studios Japan if you are looking for an interesting diversion on a longer layover. The main attraction right now is the Harry Potter village that includes rides, a shopping and dining village and street entertainment all fashioned in the style of the Harry Potter series. It’s the real deal, just like Universal Studios in the United States!
Kensai Interntional transit hub offers battery charging stations to passengers. The cost is 100 Yen (0.80 cents US Dollars) for 30 minutes. There are five different locations throughout the airport and two in the Sky view Observation Hall. The Observation Hall is a building separate from the airport that is accessible by bus. The Observation Hall is a large complex with a spectacular view of airplane take offs and landings. It also has shops, restaurants, etc. and the cost to visit is 500 Yen or $4.16 per person US Dollars.
A unique feature of the Kensai airport is the umbrella Reuse area is for those customers found in a rain storm when they are read to depart the airport. It’s sort of the same idea as take a penny, leave a penny…except with umbrellas. Which says something about the weather in and around the Kensai regon. Prepare for rainy weather!
If you find yourself with a little time between flights and would like to freshen up, you can use a coin operated shower at the Kensai mega airport hub. Simply deposit money and take a 15 minute shower. Soap, shampoo and conditioner are provided. Showers are 510 Yen ($4.24 US Dollars) if you are not using the lounge and 310 Yen ($2.58 US Dollars) if you have paid for lounge privileges already. Showers in the Kix Airport Lounge are open 24 hours a day. The Lounge, which is an internet lounge, is located in 2F. There are separate shower rooms and they are located in the international gate area. They are a little bit more expensive at 600 Yen ($5.00 US Dollars).
The Kix Lounge mentioned above is really a 24-hour internet café. There is a choice of seating and prices for how long you’d like to use the lounge. There is open seating and booth options. Prices range from 310 Yen for 30 minutes to 3250 Yen for 9 hours ($2.58 to $27.00 US Dollars respectively).
There is another lounge called Refresh Square that offers two types of lounge areas in which to relax. There is the regular lounge area which is sort of an internet café with group rooms and individual seating. This service comes with free drinks. The other part of the lounge is a spa service which offers facials, foot massages and other services. The spa service can be as short as 10 minutes or longer depending upon how much time you have.
There are plenty of restaurants at the Kensai International airport hub. They represent both Asian and Western cuisine. You can find the best noodles including udon bowls and fresh ramen. Plentiful and healthy miso soup and Chicken Katsu (gently breaded and fried chicken cutlets) in delectable but gentle sauce over rice. Don’t forget the item that Japan is known for—their colorfully decorative sushi that tastes pretty good too! You can also find Chinese rise dishes, and of course the fast foods (all the known western franchises included) that make the airport so convenient. Some of these are the bento boxes to go, sandwiches at Subway, and café foods such as Starbucks, Ciao and Tully’s coffee. There are too many restaurants to list, you can visit the airport website for more information about their offerings for more details.
As for shopping, there are plentiful options as well. You can find electronics, perfume, cosmetics, convenience and drug stores, accessories and books. Only a few stores had brand names the author recognized with Bally Boutique, The Pokemon Store, and Seven Eleven. Most of the brands we have in the West can be found in the Duty free shopping list. There are many stores that look like they either may be Asian franchises or purely Japanese brands, which is exciting to see!