getting around kyoto

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Quick Facts

Kyoto is a compact and very accessible city.

Almost any two points within the city can be reached within thirty minutes. Kyoto is served by JR (Japan Railway) trains and Shinkansen bullet trains, as well as the Kintetsu, Keihan, Hankyu, and other local trains, the city subway system, and an extensive bus network.

Kyoto welcomes many visitors each year and every effort has been made to make navigating public transport as easy as possible, especially for the non-Japanese speaker. Buses have destinations posted in both Japanese and English, as well as announcing points of interest in English. The new Raku Buses painted in distinct designs operate on the three most popular tourists routes. These buses have clear signage in English, Korean, Chinese and Japanese and feature enhanced onboard announcements in English.

Subway stations are not only numbered in order, but have signs posted in Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean. Stops are announced in Japanese and English on the train.

Public Transportation Discount Tickets

Kyoto City Bus offers a one-day pass. If you will be traveling mainly on Kyoto city buses and/or subways, consider a Traffica card. Traffica cards are prepaid cards that are good for the Municipal Subway Line and City Buses. One-day passes and Traffica Cards can be purchased at information centers, tobacco kiosks, from bus drivers and at many convenience stores.

Click here to learn more about Japanese bus etiquette.

Sunday & High Season Transportation Tips

To get around Kyoto faster, especially on peak days, like Sundays and national holidays, keep these points in mind:

  • To get to Kinkaku-ji Temple and/or Daitoku-ji Temple take the subway from Kyoto Station. to Kitaoji Station. and take city bus #204 going west.
  • To get to Ginkaku-ji Temple from downtown or Kyoto Stn. take the subway to Imadegawa and change to city bus #203.
  • To get to Arashiyama take the Keifuku line (from Omiya Stn. or Kitano Hakubaicho Stn.) or the Hankyu line (change at Katsura).


In Japan, you enter the bus from the back, exit and pay at the front. Change for 500 yen coins and 1,000 yen bills, etc. can be made by the machine at the front of the bus. Inner city buses charge a flat rate. You can also purchase booklets of 5 tickets called kaisuken.

Raku Bus

Raku Buses are for foreign tourists going to city attractions. The Raku bus routes (number 100, 101, 102) are very convenient if you want to see a combination of major Kyoto tourist sights in a single day. All Raku lines depart from Kyoto Sation bus terminal (north side).


Kyoto has two subway lines:

  1. Karasuma line (north - south): runs from Takeda Station in the south to Kokusaikaikan Station in the north,
  2. Tozai line (east - west): runs from Nijo Station in the west to Rokujizo Station in the east. Service hours: 05:30 - 23:30.

Click here to learn more about Japanese subway etiquette (scroll below bus information).


Kyoto is connected to Osaka via the Hankyu (downtown), Keihan (along east side of river) and JR (from Kyoto Stn.) lines; and to Nara by the JR and Kintetsu lines (both from Kyoto Station) The Keifuku line provides access to Arashiyama and northwestern Kyoto form Omiya Station and Kitano Hakubaicho Station. The Eizan line provides access to the northern edge of the city: Kurama, Kibune and Yase (near Ohara) from Demachiyanagi Station.


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