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How to Get to and around Kyoto

The best way to get to Kyoto from other big cities in Japan, is by Shinkansen bullet train. Getting to Kyoto from Shin-Osaka by Hikari takes 15 minutes and costs ¥3,240, from Tokyo by Nozomi takes 2 hours and 21 minutes and costs ¥16,000, and from Odawara by Hikari takes 2 hours and 6 minutes and costs ¥13,900. These prices are for a one-way standard seat.

Meanwhile, Limited Express Thunderbird runs from Kanazawa to Kyoto within 2 hours 6 minutes and costs ¥7,940 for a one-way standard seat. Kyoto city has a world-class public transport system. Buses, trains and subways will get you where you want to go fast and efficiently.

Quick Facts

  • Kyoto is a compact city with a well-developed transport network. It’s very easy to get around.
  • The Shinkansen bullet train is the fastest and most convenient way to go to Kyoto from other cities in Japan.
  • Kyoto Station is the city's transportation hub, served by Japan Railways. It is also the site of a large bus terminal for city buses and long distance buses.
  • Get around Kyoto city conveniently by public bus and subway, take trains for going farther afield, to places like Nara.
  • Purchase the ICOCA, a rechargeable contactless smart card, to make your travel by public transport in Kyoto easier.

Main Stations in Kyoto

Kyoto Station is a major transportation hub in western Japan, and it is housed in one of Japan’s biggest buildings. It is also the site of a large bus terminal for city buses and long distance and overnight highway buses. Besides the station itself, there are numerous shops, restaurants and other facilities in the Kyoto Station Building.

This station can be entered from the North or the South. The north side of the station is called the Karasuma side; this side faces Kyoto Bus Station and Kyoto Tower. You will find the main Central Gate (also called the Chuo Gate) for the JR train lines there.

The south side of the station is called the Hachijo side because it faces Hachijo Street. This side of the station faces shopping malls and hotels. In the Hachijo side of the station building you will find the Shinkansen platforms and Kintetsu Kyoto Station.

How to Get to Kyoto

The Shinkansen bullet train is one of the best means of transport because of its punctuality, comfort, safety, and speed. It connects most major cities in Japan, like Tokyo, Osaka, Kanazawa, to Kyoto; has frequent departures and is very convenient for sightseeing trips. You can use your JR pass to purchase Shinkansen tickets from many cities to Kyoto.

Getting from Tokyo to Kyoto

The most frequent and the fastest way to get from Tokyo to Kyoto is by the Nozomi, in just 2 hours and 21 minutes. The Nozomi is Japan's fastest bullet train, being the super-express service that runs between Tokyo and out west to Kyushu. It departs from Tokyo Station every 10-20 minutes.

Tickets from Tokyo to Kyoto cost ¥16,000 for a one-way trip, standard seat, and ¥21,500 for a green seat, but these ticket fares are not covered by the Japan Rail Pass. If you want to use the Japan Rail Pass, your best choice is the Hikari, wich takes 2 hours and 40 minutes.

Getting from Osaka to Kyoto

The fastest and the most efficient way to travel between Osaka and Kyoto is by high-speed Shinkansen service: the Hikari, which takes only 15 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Kyoto Station, with a travel distance of 56.4km.

It costs ¥3,240 for a one-way standard seat and ¥4,110 for a green seat; this train fare is covered by the Japan Rail Pass. The Hikari departs from Shin-Osaka Station, from 6AM to 8PM, approximately every 10 minutes.

Getting from Kansai Airport to Kyoto

The Limited Express Haruka, operated by JR West, is the only rail service between Kansai International Airport and Kyoto Station, taking 1 hour and 40 minutes. At Kyoto Station, the Haruka departs mainly from platform 30, though some early trains depart from platforms 6 and 7. At Kansai Airport Station, the Haruka departs from platform 4.

The Haruka service from Kyoto Station runs from 5.46AM to 8.15PM, and from Kansai International Airport from 6.30AM (6.40AM on weekends and holidays) to 10.16PM. The normal fare between Kansai International Airport Station and Kyoto Station is ¥3,880 for a one-way standard seat and can be covered by the Japan Rail Pass.

Getting from Kanazawa to Kyoto

The Thunderbird is a convenient and fast service, operated by JR West, that connects stations in Ishikawa Prefecture with Osaka Station via Kanazawa, Fukui, and Kyoto. This train is a popular option for both, business and leisure travelers, also to enjoy the fantastic natural beauty of the scenery during the trip.

The one-way ticket costs ¥7,940 for a standard seat and ¥12,070 for a green seat. The entire fare is covered by the use of your Japan Rail Pass. The Thunderbird operates daily from 7.09AM to 8.56PM, and takes around 2 hours and 6 minutes from Kanazawa to Kyoto. 24 trains make the round trip between Kanazawa and Osaka daily.

Getting from Odawara (Hakone) to Kyoto

The fastest and the most convenient way to get from Hakone to Kyoto is by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen, the Hikari. Go to Odawara Station, a gateway station and a major transit hub for several rail lines to the Hakone area, served by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train line direct, every 2-5 hours. It takes 2 hours and 6 minutes and costs around ¥13,900 for a one-way standard seat and ¥19,390 for a green seat. The Japan Rail Pass is valid on Hikari trains.

Best Way to Get Around in Kyoto

Kyoto has a world-class public transport system. The buses, trains and subways will get you where you want to go, fast and efficiently. Purchase an IC card, or ICOCA, to make it easier for you to pay for all the transport fares, including taxi. This card is refundable.

Public Transportation (Metro, Train, Bus)

Kyoto is incredibly easy to explore by public transport such as trains, subways, and buses. Kyoto’s train system consists of the national JR Line and several local private lines. You can get to any place within the city by train from Kyoto Station. The subway system is composed of two lines, the north-south Karasuma Line and the east-west Tozai Line. These two lines intersect in the middle of Kyoto, allowing you to change lines.

The subways and trains are the most convenient way to get around the city, whereas buses cover almost the whole rest of the city. If you plan to use the bus a lot, get a special pass. You can buy it at the Kyoto Bus Information Center, just outside Kyoto Station.

Ride Kyoto’s public transport conveniently and efficiently with the purchase of a refundable IC card or ICOCA. You can purchase a card at the vending machines in the stations. The vending machines are available at most stations of Kyoto and other big cities.

The new card price is ¥2,000, including ¥500 deposit. You can top-up this card by a minimum of ¥1,000, the maximum amount is ¥20,000. You can use it to take a train, bus, and even to shop. Many stores in the stations, such as convenience stores, take IC cards.


Taxis are plentiful and reasonably priced in Kyoto. And when you have three or four people, they can be good value. Ride a taxi only for short transfers or to go to a place that is not well served by public transport, such as from Arashiyama to Kinkaku-ji Temple.

Taxi fares start around ¥400-700 for the first two kilometers and increase by around ¥80-90 for every additional 300-400 meters traveled. Many taxis accept payment by IC card and credit card.

Private Car

You can rent various types of cars for private travel, suitable for families with kids or older people, around five people. The costs start from US$900 a day, with an experienced and courteous driver who safely delivers you to your destination promptly, using the most efficient route. English speaking drivers are available.


Explore Kyoto with Asia Highlights

Exploring Kyoto by public transportation may be confusing, especially if visiting for the first time. Feel free to ask us to get more details about how to get to Kyoto from other cities in Japan or straight from your country. We will arrange everything, so that you can get the most out of this amazing city.

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