Kansai International Airport is 70km from Kobe and is the nearest international airport. The fastest way to get there is on the Kaijo Access high-speed ferry from Kobe Airport, which runs every 45 minutes (29 minutes, ¥1,500). However, if you are coming from or going to Sannomiya Station or Rokko Island, it's nearly as fast and less of a hassle to take the Airport Limousine bus (60-75 minutes, ¥1,980 one-way, ¥3,080 round-trip). Alternatively, you can take the JR Kanku Kaisoku (関空快速) rapid to Osaka station and change there to the Shin-kaisoku (新快速 - Special Rapid) that runs to both Sannomiya and Kobe stations (90 minutes, ¥2,410).
Kobe Airport (神戸空港), built on reclaimed land in front of the harbor, opened in February of 2006. The airport handles domestic flights only: both Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) have flights to Kobe from Tokyo Haneda, Sapporo, Sendai, Okinawa, and Kagoshima. ANA also offers service from Niigata, while JAL has flights from Kumamoto. A low-cost airline, Skymark, operates cheap flights to/from Tokyo, Naha, Ibaraki, Kagoshima, Nagasaki, and Sapporo.
Sannomiya Station is near central business district and many attractions. It has a tourist information office well-stocked with area maps. Be sure to ask for the coupon book, which offers discounts of 10% to 20% for many attractions. The Japanese characters for Sannomiya station on Japan Railways (三ノ宮) differ from the Sannomiya station on other railways (三宮).
Shin-Kobe Station is the nearest station on Japan's high-speed shinkansen network. From Tokyo station, Shin-Kobe is 2 hours, 50 minutes away via Nozomi (¥14,670); 3 hours and 20 minutes via Hikari (¥14,270; no charge with the Japan Rail Pass). From Shin-Kobe station, take the Seishin Yamate subway line one stop to Sannomiya (¥200).