I had a two day layover in Osaka and met up with Henry Coste in Kobe for the day. Henry works for Skymark airlines and he's based in Kobe, the other side of the bay from where I was staying.
Osaka's International Airport is on a man made island located in the Osaka bay. Kobe is on the other side of the bay and getting there, while not too difficult, can take a long time. One good thing about Japan is the abundant means of public transportation, however, it's not the cheapest. Having the choice to take either a bus, train or boat to Kobe, I opted for the ferry as it was about half the travel time as compared to the other options.
Getting to the ferry from the airport couldn't be easier. Located in the terminal at Kansai airport there is, in true Japanese fashion, a vending machine for ferry tickets. I thought the time needed to decipher the barbed wire (katakana/hiragana) directions written on the machine would be more than normal, I set off abut 30 minutes before the free bus left the the ferry port. As it turned out, I had an extra 30 minutes to kill as the directions were also predominately displayed in English. I put in my 1800 yen and out popped my one-way ticket to Kobe. The bus left, unsurprisingly right on time as did the ferry for the 35 minute trip to the other side of the bay.
I spent the day just wandering around Kobe and having a look at what the city had to offer. Henry suggested with take the New Kobe ropeway, a gondola, the the Kobe Nunobiki Herb Garden. Not that we really wanted to see the herb garden but rather it was located atop a mountain, Mt. Maya, overlooking the city. As it was a really nice day and frankly started running out of touristy thing to do we road the gondola to the top and hiked backed down the mountain after seeing what the area had to offer.
Kitano city was really different in that a lot of the buildings there were built by foreigners as the Port of Kobe opened and it reminded me a lot of a European city. If you get the chance, I'd recommend checking it out along with the Mt. Maya. Here's a site where you can get the skinny on getting there among other things. Kobe area information.