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How to travel between Kyoto and Tokyo

By shinkansen
Direct, 140-160 minutes, about 13,500 yen one way, multiple connections per hour
Tokyo and Kyoto are connected with each other by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen. Nozomi trains require about 140 minutes to reach Kyoto from Tokyo, Hikari trains about 160 minutes and Kodama trains about four hours.
The regular one way fare from Tokyo to Kyoto is 13,080 yen by non-reserved seat on any train, around 13,500 yen by reserved seat on Hikari or Kodama trains and around 14,000 yen by reserved seat on a Nozomi train. A 7-day Japan Rail Pass costs about the same as regular round trip tickets. The Japan Rail Pass is valid on Hikari and Kodama trains, but not on Nozomi trains.
Japanican offers an E-Voucher for a round trip by Nozomi or Hikari from Tokyo to Kyoto and back plus a 1-day Kyoto Sightseeing Pass for only 21,600 yen. The return journey has to be done within seven days of the outward journey. The E-Voucher can be used by foreign tourists only.
Japanican also offers various "Shinkansen Tours" that combine transportation by shinkansen with hotel stays in Kyoto. One way packages start from 15,400 yen, while round trip packages can cost as little as 20,400 yen per person in case of double occupancy. These packages are only available to foreign tourists.
With the "Puratto Kodama Economy Plan", you can travel between Tokyo and Kyoto by reserved seat on a Kodama train for only 10,100 yen, but the plan has to be purchased at least one day in advance from JR Tokai travel agencies.

By highway bus
Direct, 7-8 hours, 3,500-10,000 yen one way, multiple daytime and overnight connections per day
The one way trip from Tokyo to Kyoto by highway bus takes about 7-8 hours. There are daytime and overnight buses. Fierce competition on the Tokyo-Kyoto-Osaka route has produced a wide variety of comfort levels (from discount to super premium buses) and an abundance of low priced offers.
Typical one way fares for discount buses, such as Willer Express, start from around 3500 yen; while premium buses charge up to 10,000 yen. If used effectively, the Japan Bus Pass can reduce the cost for the bus trip to around 3000 yen.

By air
2-3 transfers, 3-4 hours, 9,000-23,000 yen one way, multiple flights per day
The closest airport to Kyoto is Osaka's Itami Airport, about one hour by bus from central Kyoto (more details). Most flights connect Itami Airport with Tokyo's Haneda Airport, with just a few serving Tokyo's Narita Airport. Flight duration is one hour. The regular one way fare is around 23,000 yen, but discount tickets are usually available for around 9,000 to 16,000 yen.

By car
5-6 hours without breaks, around 10,000 yen one way in expressway tolls
Driving between Tokyo and Kyoto via the Tomei and Meishin Expressways takes about five to six hours without breaks and traffic jams. The expressway toll is around 10,000 yen one way.

By local trains
4 transfers, 9 hours, 2370-8210 yen one way
By local trains, the one way trip from Tokyo to Kyoto takes about nine hours and typically involves about four transfers of trains. The regular fare is a relatively expensive 8210 yen, however, with a Seishun 18 Kippu you could theoretically do the trip for as little as 2370 yen.

Above fees and schedules are subject to change. For the current yen exchange rate, click here.


Kyoto features a rectangular street system. Unlike the streets in other Japanese cities, most of central Kyoto's streets are named. The main streets running from east to west are numbered in ascending order from north to south, and are about 500 meters apart from each other, with several smaller streets in between. For example, Shijo means "4th Avenue" and Nijo means "2nd Avenue".

Kyoto's city center with the highest concentration of dining, shopping and entertainment opportunities, is located around the junction of Shijo-dori (4th Avenue) and Kawaramachi-dori (Kawaramachi Street). JR Kyoto Station is located south of the city center at the height of Hachijo-dori (8th Avenue).

The most prominent north-south street is Karasuma-dori (Karasuma Street), which runs from Kyoto Station via the city center to Kyoto Imperial Palace. Another north-south axis is Kamo River, about one kilometer east of Karasuma-dori.

Kyoto has a rather inadequately developed public transportation system for a city of its size, consisting of two subway lines, a dense bus network and several railway companies, whose lines are not always conveniently connected with each other. Taxis and bicycles can be worthwhile alternatives.

The recommended way to get around Kyoto by public transportation is to use an IC card, such as Icoca, which is accepted on most trains and buses in the city. Alternatively, travelers intending to use buses or subways extensively, should consider one of the 1-day passes available. See the ticket section below for more details.

Below is a simplified map of the railway and subway lines of Kyoto:


Few of Kyoto's tourist attractions are located close to subway or train stations. Instead, Kyoto has a dense bus network with direct bus lines from Kyoto Station and/or the city center around Shijo-dori (4th Avenue) and Kawaramachi-dori (Kawaramachi Street) to most major sights.

Kyoto is served by multiple bus companies. For central Kyoto, the green Kyoto City Bus buses are most numerous and useful. The red buses by Kyoto Bus are second most prominent and tend to be convenient to access sights in more outlying areas of the city.

The tourist offices provide a useful English network map for the Kyoto City Buses, which makes it quite easy for foreign visitors to access tourist attractions by bus. Despite the good map and English displays and announcements, however, getting off at the correct bus stop can still be stressful, especially in crowded buses.

Since buses are small and operate surprisingly infrequently even on some major routes, buses to major tourist sights can often get crowded, especially on weekends and during holidays. In addition, much time can be lost when buses get stuck or only proceed slowly in the busy street traffic. Consequently, it is recommended to use subways and trains as much as possible, and use buses only for medium and short distances, for example, from the closest subway station to the destination.

Buses are entered through the back door and left through the front door. The fare has to be paid when leaving the bus. Inside much of central Kyoto, there is a flat rate of 230 yen per ride. Outside the flat fare zone, the fare increases with the distance. Click here for more information on riding buses.

Kyoto City Bus
Kyoto Bus


There are two subway lines in Kyoto, the Karasuma Line which runs from south to north along Karasuma-dori (Karasuma Street) and stops at JR Kyoto Station, and the newer Tozai Line which runs from east to west and crosses the Karasuma Line at the intersection of Karasuma-dori and Oike-dori.

Japan Railways

All JR lines including the Tokaido Shinkansen pass through or commence at JR Kyoto Station. JR trains are a good option for accessing the Arashiyama area (Sagano Line) and some attractions in southern Kyoto along the JR Nara Line, e.g. Fushimi Inari Shrine and Byodoin in Uji.

Other Railways

  • Hankyu Railways connect Kyoto with Osaka. The line initially runs below Shijo Avenue from Kawaramachi westwards in direction of Osaka. It is a good option for accessing the area around Katsura Rikyu, from where a branch line also connects to Arashiyama.
  • Keifuku Railways (also known as Randen) operates two tram like train lines in northwestern Kyoto. For train lovers, a ride on these trains is a small attraction by itself. The lines can be an option for accessing Arashiyama and the area around Ryoanji and Kinkakuji.
  • Keihan Railways' main line runs next and parallel to Kamo River, but unfortunately does not connect to Kyoto Station. The line continues to Osaka and is an alternative to the JR Nara Line to access some of the attractions in southern Kyoto.
  • Eizan Railways operates two train lines from where the Keihan Line ends, Demachi Yanagi Station in northern Kyoto. One line leads to Kurama, while the other runs to the base of Hieizan.
  • Kintetsu Railways connects Kyoto Station to Nara. Note that some trains on the Karasuma Subway Line continue to run on the Kintetsu Nara Line, and the other way around.


Kyoto is probably the Japanese city with the highest concentration of taxis. Especially in the city center, taxis are found everywhere. Taxis can not only be a more comfortable, but also an economical alternative to buses on short to medium distances for groups of three or more people.

Most taxis accommodate up to four passengers (not including the driver), while larger vehicles are able to accommodate an additional fifth passenger. The rate starts around 650 yen for the first two kilometers and increases by 80 yen for every additional 300-400 meters traveled.


Kyoto City's simple layout and flat terrain make it easy and convenient to explore by bicycle. Numerous bicycle rental outlets can be found around the city, especially around major stations, such as Kyoto Station, or in popular biking areas like Arashiyama. Typical rental prices are around 1000-1500 yen per day for basic bicycles and around 1700-2000 yen for electric assist bicycles. Some hotels and hostels may also provide their guests with bicycles for a small fee or for free.

Kyoto is generally a bicycle friendly city with relatively easily navigable roads and a handful of cycling routes, most notably along Kamo River. Designated bicycle parking is often freely available around popular sightseeing spots. The situation is a little bit more challenging in the city center due to congested roads, crowded sidewalks and a lack of designated parking areas. Also, distances to some of the more outlying sightseeing spots should not be underestimated. For example, it is about eight kilometers (typically a 45-75 minute ride) from Kyoto Station to Kinkakuji or about ten kilometers to Arashiyama.

Special Tickets

See also our separate page about the various passes available for the Kansai Region.

The following one day passes are available for Kyoto:

Kyoto Sightseeing Card (1,200 yen for one day, 2,000 yen for two days)
  Unlimited use of Kyoto's two subway lines and of Kyoto City Buses and Kyoto Buses in central Kyoto and outskirts, including Arashiyama, Takao and Ohara. The pass also comes with discount coupons for selected sights in Kyoto. The pass is available for one or two calendar days, and the 2-day version must be used on consecutive days. It can be purchased from ticket machines in subway stations, at bus ticket centers and from some hotels. The pass is not of amazing value, but it can pay off especially if you visit the outlying areas such as Takao or Ohara. The downside is that, besides the subway lines, the pass does not cover any other trains which are often a convenient means of getting around.
Kyoto One Day Bus Card (500 yen)
  Unlimited use of Kyoto City Buses and Kyoto Buses in central Kyoto and Arashiyama on one calendar day. Unlike the Kyoto Sightseeing Card (see above), the one-day bus card does not cover other outlying areas such as Takao and Ohara. The card can be purchased at bus and subway ticket counters and from bus drivers; however, there is a risk that bus drivers run out of cards in which case purchase is not possible. The one-day bus card pays off if you use buses three times per day or more. However, be warned that buses are a relatively slow means of getting around Kyoto and are often delayed by traffic.
Kyoto Subway One Day Card (600 yen)
  Unlimited use of Kyoto's two subway lines on one calendar day. The card can be purchased from ticket machines at subway stations. It pays off if you use subways three times per day or more, however its value is restricted by the subway's limited coverage area.

Prepaid cards don't give you any discounts, but they make the process of taking trains and buses easier, as you do not always need to buy a new ticket for each ride. Prepaid cards can be purchased at vending machines.

Prepaid IC cards (From 2000 yen)
  The prepaid IC card available in Kyoto is called Icoca and can be purchased at ticket machines at JR stations. Local non-JR railway companies offer their own IC card called Pitapa; however, Pitapa is a postpaid card that works more like a credit card and is targeted at residents rather than tourists.
  Icoca and Pitapa can be used on most trains and buses in Kyoto and surroundings (and many other major cities in Japan) with the exceptions of the red Kyoto Bus buses, the JR buses and the Eizan Railway to Kurama and Hieizan. The green city buses started accepting IC cards on Deceber 24, 2014. Eight other IC cards from other major cities of Japan can be used instead of Icoca cards in Kyoto, including Suica, Pasmo, Kitaca, Toica, Manaca, Sugoca, Nimoca and Hayakaken.
Surutto Kansai Card (1000, 2000 and 3000 yen)
  The Surutto Kansai Card is an old-fashioned prepaid card that cannot get recharged and is inserted in the ticket gate slot rather than swiped over an IC card reader. Surutto Kansai Cards can be used on virtually all trains and buses in Kyoto and surroundings with the prominent exception of JR trains. The big advantage of Surutto Kansai over Icoca is that it can also be used on Kyoto buses and Eizan trains. The Surutto Kansai Card is also known under various different names, depending through which company you are purchasing it, e.g. Miyako Card (Kyoto subway and buses) or Lagare Card (Hankyu).

Any Questions? Ask them in our question forum.


Hotels and Ryokan
Kyoto offers a wide range of accommodation for all budgets and tastes, including historic ryokan, Western style hotels and low-budget hostels. Among the most attractive districts to stay are the Kyoto Station area, the city center around Shijo Street and the Higashiyama District.
Search Hotels
Sponsored Hotels
Peaceful small ryokan with 170-year history. 10min walk from JR Kyoto Sta. The 7th inn keeper serves Kyoto Kaiseki cuisines. Private baths & Wi-Fi. Renovated in 2013.
Arashiyama Hanaikada
A little, superior ryokan right near Togetsukyo Bridge in Arashiyama. Free transfer at JR station. Private onsen bath.
Japanese hotel, Ryokan Nishiyama
Experience the real Japan at our affordable ryokan. Close to major tourist spots in Kyoto.
Ryokan Motonago
A real traditional inn at Gion with 11 rooms, friendly staff. Walking distance of Kiyomizu-dera, Yasaka-jinja and more.
Ryokan Wakamiya
Inexpensive, cozy inn with helpful staff. 7 min walk from JR Kyoto Sta. Free Internet PC. Communal baths on top floor.
Hotel Sanoya
3 min from north exit of JR Kyoto Sta. but in quiet area. Cozy, clean Japanese rooms with bath. Internet PC in lobby.
Gion Shinmonso
A fine ryokan in the Gion near geisha streets. Easy access to Kiyomizu-dera and Yasaka-jinja. Special offers available.
Backpackers Hostel K's House Kyoto
Voted No.1 hostel chain worldwide for 2010&2011 by customers. 9 min. walk from JR Kyoto Station. Beds from 2,300 yen.
Recommended Hotels around Kyoto
Backpackers Hostel Ks House Kyoto
One of Kyoto's most popular hostels. A ten minute walk from Kyoto Station.
Reserve through
Agoda or Booking
Hotel Granvia Kyoto
Located inside Kyoto Station, this is Kyoto's most convenient 4-star hotel.
Reserve through
Agoda or Booking
Hyatt Regency Kyoto Hotel
Elegant luxury hotel located near Sanjusangendo Temple.
Reserve through
Agoda or Booking
Khaosan Kyoto Guest House
Cheap and popular hostel located in the heart of the city near Kawaramachi Station.
Reserve through
Agoda or Booking
New Miyako Hotel Kyoto
Reasonably priced 3-star hotel located just across the street from Kyoto Station.
Reserve through
Agoda or Booking
Royal Park Hotel The Kyoto
Modern hotel along Sanjo Street close to Pontocho and other dining options.
Reserve through
Agoda or Booking

Tours and Packages
Kyoto Tours
Various tours and travel packages for Kyoto and surroundings.

User Feedback
We strive to keep up-to-date and accurate, and are always looking for ways to improve the user experience. If you have any updates, suggestions, corrections or opinions, please let us know:

English Links
Arukumachi Kyoto Route Planner
Useful website for looking up transportation in Kyoto.
Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau
Operator of subways and city buses.
Kyoto City Bus Network Map
PDF file of the Kyoto City Bus network.
JR West
Official English website.
JR Central
Official English website.
Keihan Railway
Official English website.
Kintetsu Railway
Official English website.
Hankyu Railway
Official English website.
Kansai Airport Transportation
Operator of airport buses to Kansai Airport.
Osaka Airport Transport
Operator of airport buses to Itami Airport (domestic airport).

Japanese Links
Arukumachi Kyoto Route Planner
Useful website for looking up transportation in Kyoto.
JR West
Official website.
JR Central
Official website.
Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau
Operator of subways and city buses.
Kyoto Bus
Official website.
Hankyu Railway
Official Website.
Keihan Railway
Official Website.
Kintetsu Railway
Official Website.
Keifuku Railway
Official Website.
Eizan Railway
Official Website.

Online Reservations


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