In recent decades the transportation infrastructure of several major Japanese cities have undergone many changes. From the development of high-speed rail lines to expanded subway access, transit in Japan is becoming increasingly diverse. However, these changes mean that many train or tram networks have been gradually phased out of use across the country. Among them is the Keifuku Randen Tram Line, an extraordinary representation of how the people of Kyoto used to commute. The tram line is operated in northwest Kyoto, a region of the city many visitors don’t often have the chance to see.
The Keifuku Randen, or simply the Randen, is revered by locals as it is the last tram line that is still in Operation in Kyoto. Before major train lines began being constructed over the city, it would carry passengers to various parts of the city including the famous Arashiyama region. Other cities such as Tokyo used to have an extensive network of tram lines in the past, although most have been phased out of service as population growth necessitated newer rail works. Only a handful of tram lines are left untouched across Japan, and they mainly serve as attractions now.
The Arashiyama Line of the Randen connects the areas of Shijo-Omiya, which is known as a shopping and food paradise, and Arashiyama, which is home to several historic sites. The Kitano, the second existing line of the Randen, connects Ukyo Ward’s Katabiranotsuji Station and Kita Ward’s Kitano-Hakubaicho Station.
You can see a variety of amazing places, including temples, bridges, streets, gardens, shrines, and other culturally rich spots, along the two tram lines of the Randen. This retro-looking tram is run by Kyoto-based major rail transport firm Kyoto Keifuku Electric Railroad.
If you are using the Arashiyama Line, get off at Sai Station, which comes immediately after Shijo-Omiya Station, and hop on the Kyoto city bus line to Kinkaku-ji, the “Golden Pavilion.”
Both Shijo-Omiya and Sai Stations give you access to some amazing shopping centers, bars, hotels, and many more.
The Randen-Tenjingawa Station allows you to get to Toei Kyoto Studio Park, a prominent filming location where you can find people dressed up in traditional and historical costumes. If you are lucky, you can even see famous TV and movie personalities filming on location at the park!
You can visit the amazing autumn gardens of Rokuoin Temple, which can be easily reached from the Rokuoin Station of the Arashiyama Line.
You can also explore the historical Arashiyama region by getting off at Arashiyama Station. The ever-popular Bamboo Grove, Tenryu-ji, and many other notable attractions can be found here.
If you are using the Kitano Line, which you can get to by transferring at the Katabiranotsuji Station of the Arashiyama Line, you can visit several amazing UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as Ninna-ji Temple and Ryoanji Temple via the Omuro-Ninnaji and Ryoanji Stations, respectively.
You can also see the very interesting Shunkoin Temple that is actually a part of the much larger religious complex known as Myoshinji, which is also the name of the tram stop, where you can practice meditation.
Via the Kitano-Hakubaicho Station, you can access the well-known Kitano Tenmangu Shrine where plenty of festivals and events are held, as well as the famous cherry blossom spot that is Hirano Shrine.
The Randen is a must-try when you are in Kyoto, as it is not only a gateway to a lot of attractions in the city but also a cheaper and easier alternative to cover most tourist spots. The fare for the Randen follows a flat rate system: 220 yen for adults and 110 yen for children. However, since the tram operates far from Kyoto Station, you will need to reach the stations by other means of transportation such as Kyoto’s many bus lines.
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