The Ultimate Travelers’ Guide to Getting the Most Out of Kyoto Station

  • Kyoto Station (京都駅) is a major transportation hub, especially for foreign tourists who come to Japan. It is a terminal station housed in one of Japan’s biggest buildings, and it consists of numerous shinkansen (bullet trains; 新幹線), buses, trains and other types of transportation.

    Besides this, it has numerous restaurants, shops, and other facilities. If it is your first time to set foot in Kyoto Station Building, you might as well familiarize yourself with the general layout of the station so you don’t get lost. Guide yourself with some of the useful tips to find your way around.

    About the Building

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    Kyoto Station Building has a futuristic look, which is something that attracts a lot of foreign tourists. It has a unique architectural design reflecting the near-future.

    It can be entered from the north and from the south. The north side is called Karasuma (烏丸) side while the south side is Hachijo (八条) side. The Karasuma side faces the Kyoto Bus Station and Kyoto Tower. This is where you’ll also find the main Central Gate (中央口).

    The south side faces Hachijo Street (八条通り), and opens up to shopping malls and hotels. Here, you’ll also find the shinkansen platforms and Kintetsu Kyoto Station (近鉄京都駅). These two stations are connected by passageways.

    There is a pedestrian walkway which runs from north to south on the second floor. It passes the Isetan Department Store (伊勢丹), the West Gate for the JR Lines going to the shinkansen tracks and Kintetsu Kyoto Station. The two sides of the station are also connected by an underground passage.

    How to Reach Major Sightseeing Spots

    To smoothly travel from Kyoto to your next destination, you must consider some useful routes. If you’d like to travel around the city, the most favorable way is the city bus.

    Bus routes can be confusing at first, but you’ll be guided with the associated number that is being displayed. The information provided will also tell you whether or not it’s reachable by subway.

    • If you’re going to Gion (祇園), for example, you have to take Bus 100 or 206, which will get you there in 20 minutes.
    • If your destination is Shijo-Kawaramachi (四条河原町), take Bus 4, 5, 17, or 205. You’ll reach your destination in 15 minutes.
    • Take Bus 9, 50 or 101 if you’re on your way to Nijo Castle (二条城). The closest stop is Nijojo-mae (二条城前). You’ll reach your destination in 15-20 minutes.
    • If you’d like to visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine (伏見稲荷神社), take the JR Nara Line (奈良線) and drop by the closest station, Inari Station (稲荷駅).
    • If you’re heading to Arashiyama (嵐山), take the JR Sagano Line (嵯峨野線). Its closest station is Sagano Arashiyama Station (嵯峨野嵐山駅).
    • If your destination is Ginkakuji (銀閣寺), take bus 100. It will take you around 40 minutes to get there.
    • If your itinerary includes Kinkakuji Temple (金閣寺), take bus 101 or 205. The closest bus stop is Kinkakuji-michi (金閣寺道). Alternatively, you can take the JR Sagano Line to Emmachi Station (円町駅), then switch to bus 204 or 205.

    The time needed will also depend on the traffic situation in the area. Take note that traffic jams are common during the fall and spring seasons.

    More Information on Transportation

    If you’re riding a bus, you can find the bus stops at Karasuma Exit. Since there are so many buses coming in and out, it would be best to check out the information chart in order to know what bus number to take. The ticket center will also provide you with a lot of helpful information.

    Languages in English, Chinese and Korean are available, and all of the buses follow the same route. All you have to do is board from the back entrance and get off from the front exit. If you have an IC card, a transportation card which makes traveling easy, you can easily use it. If you don’t, you may pay in cash through a box located next to the driver. You can travel the city for a whole day by getting a Kyoto City Bus One-Day Pass for 500 yen. There’s a machine at the bus terminal where you can purchase it.

    If you’d like to take the train, you can use the JR lines by purchasing tickets at the JR central ticket gate. It is recommended that you purchase and use an IC card as you can just pay your fare automatically.

    If you’re taking the subway, two lines are available: the Karasuma Line and the Tozai Line (東西線). The Karasuma Line can be ridden from Kyoto Station, and the ticket gates are located on the B2 floor of the station building.

    If you’d like to use the Kintetsu Railway, the ticket gates are on the Hachijo side. This kind of transportation is not frequently used, but some of its destinations head towards popular sightseeing places like Nara, Mie’s Ise (三重県伊勢市) and the Kashiko Islands (賢島).

    When using trains, it is very important to know which ticket gate to go through whenever you’re switching train lines. If your destination is the bus terminal, you have to pass through the central gate. If you’re heading to the subway platforms, use the underground east exit. Go through the west gate if you’re going to the Kintetsu Railway platforms. The shinkansen platform is accessible within the JR line ticket gate. Heading to the taxi stand? Use the central gate, west gate or the Hachijo east gate.

    Taxis and Car Rentals

    Buses and trains are obviously the most affordable option, but alternatively, if you’d like to travel with no hassle, take a taxi instead. Taxi drivers are knowledgeable about the area and can surely tour you around or help you navigate until you reach your desired destination.

    If you’d like to do some stopovers, rent a car. There are many car rental services in the city. One of these is Nissan Rent-a-Car Kyoto Ekimae Branch (日産レンタカー京都駅前店). This one is close to the Karasuma exit. Another is the Nippon Rent-a-Car Kyoto Ekimae Branch (ニッポンレンタカー京都駅前営業所) which offers a 24-hour service. This is located at the Hachijo Exit and it is noticeable with its red and white sign.

    There are plenty of places for you to visit if you’d like to enjoy your time around Kyoto Station, such as shopping centers and restaurants. Some of these include JR Kyoto Isetan, Ekimae Chikagai Porta (京都駅前地下街ポルタ) and the Kyoto Station Building Shopping Arcade, the CUBE.

    Whether it is your first time to travel in the city or not, take note of these useful tips when using Kyoto Station so you can save time, prevent getting lost, and have a stress-free time during your visit. For more information on Kyoto Station, click here. Enjoy your visit!

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