Kyoto is easily reachable from a number of major cities in Japan by Shinkansen bullet train, standard trains, airplanes, and buses. The recommended ways to reach Kyoto from various cities in Japan are as follows.
135 min. Shinkansen Nozomi.
The Shinkansen Nozomi travels from Tokyo Station directly to Kyoto Station.
165 min. Shinkansen Hikari.
The Shinkansen Hikari travels from Tokyo Station directly to Kyoto Station.
8 hours. Night Bus.
Dream Kyoto, operated by JR, is an overnight bus that departs at 10:30 pm from the bus stop at the Yaesu South exit of Tokyo Station. It arrives in Kyoto at 6:30 am the following morning. Tickets can be purchased at the Bus Ticket Center located at the exit. For those interested, a women-only bus called the Lady's Dream Kyoto leaves and arrives an hour later than Dream Kyoto.
70 Min. Airplane.
From Narita International Airport (NRT), fly to Osaka International Airport (ITM). From Osaka International Airport, take the airport limousine bus in the arrivals lobby to Kyoto. Buses leave regularly to Kyoto Station, and less frequently to selected Kyoto hotels.
15 min. Shinkansen bullet train.
Take the Shinkansen Hikari directly from Shin-Osaka Station to Kyoto Station. No transfer is necessary.
30 min. Tokaido Main Line.
Take the JR Tokaido Main Line directly from Osaka Station to Kyoto Station.
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50 min. Sakurajima Line (JR Yumesaki Line) and Tokaido Main Line.
Take the Sakurajima Line directly from Universal City Station to Osaka Station and transfer to the JR Tokaido Main Line to Kyoto Station.
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30 min. Shinkansen bullet train.
Take the Shinkansen Hikari or Nozomi directly from Shin-Kobe Station to Kyoto Station. No transfer is necessary.
50 min. Tokaido Main Line.
Take the JR Tokaido Main Line directly from San-no-miya Station to Kyoto Station.
50 min. Kintetsu Nara line
Take the JR Kintetsu Nara Line directly from Kintetsu Nara Station to Kyoto Station.
57 min. Shinkansen bullet train.
Take the Shinkansen Hikari directly from Nagoya Station to Kyoto Station. No transfer is necessary.
170 min. Shinkansen bullet train.
Take the Shinkansen (Nozomi) directly from Hakata Station in Fukuoka to Kyoto Station. No transfer is necessary.
70 min. by air from Narita (NRT).
Shinkansen bullet trains are classified by speed. The fastest is Nozomi, which runs from Tokyo to Kyoto in 2 hours and 15 min. Hikari, which makes a few more stops, takes 2 hours and 40 min. Kodama, which stops at every station, takes 3 hours and 40 min. Trains on this line depart several times per hour and are very punctual. In 2003, JR Central announced that the average arrival time of the Shinkansen was within six seconds of schedule.
Being a holder of a Japan Rail Pass, described at the bottom of this page, makes it particularly convenient and affordable to ride the Shinkansen. All trains are available to pass holders with the exception of Nozomi.
Though the Shinkansen is convenient for traveling long distances, it's sometimes necessary to ride local trains. Hankyu, Keihan, and Kintetsu railways provide cheaper services to Kyoto from Osaka and Kobe than JR.
Trains in Japan are designated by their speed. The fastest are Tokkyu (Limited Express) and Kyuko (Express) trains. JR charges passengers an extra fee to ride these, but the private lines servicing Kyoto do not. Shinkaisoku (New Rapid) are the fastest trains available at a standard fare on JR. You can reach Kyoto via a Shinkaisoku train in about 30 min. from Osaka or about 50 min. from Kobe. Kaisoku (Rapid) trains skip some smaller stations while Futsu (Local) or Kaku-eki-teisha trains stop at every station.
Located in stations together with timetables are diagrams indicating which trains stop at which stations. Please ensure the train you board stops at your destination.
There are a number of airlines operating Japanese domestic flights, but All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL) operate the most routes in Japan. The flight times from Narita International Airport to Kansai International Airport, Itami Airport, and Kobe Airport ranges from one to two hours. Once you have touched down there it will take another one to two hours to reach Kyoto. For more information on how to get to Kyoto from various airports in Japan, please see From the Airport
You can make reservations with ANA through their homepage. JAL has an up-to-date website listing numbers you can call to make a reservation at JAL.
Visitors to Japan who are on a budget but would like to travel to Kyoto from other locations in Japan may want to take advantage of an overnight bus. JR and a number of private companies provide overnight bus services bound for and departing from Kyoto. Reservations are recommended but not necessary.
The popular JR Dream Bus runs between Kyoto and Tokyo. The overnight trip takes about eight hours and costs about (8,000 yen) for a one way ticket. Private buses are usually cheaper than JR. A good number of private bus companies have English language websites, and a few even allow reservations online.
The Japan Rail Pass will allow you unlimited access to virtually all JR services for a single fee. The two main exceptions to this are the Nozomi, which is the fastest Shinkansen bullet train, and the sleeper cars on night trains. You are not permitted to ride the Nozomi with this JR pass, and you will be required to pay an additional fee to use the sleepers. Nonetheless, the pass can be a bargain for people who plan to explore multiple regions of Japan. Consider that the price of a 7-Day Japan Rail Pass is roughly the same as a single round trip ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto.
Type: Green: Ordinary
Duration: Adult: Child: Adult: Child
7-Day: 37,800 yen: 18,900 yen: 28,300 yen: 14,150 yen
14-Day: 61,200 yen: 30,600 yen: 45,100 yen: 22,550 yen
21-Day: 79,600 yen: 39,800 yen: 57,700 yen: 28,850 yen
The JR Pass can be purchased from travel agents overseas and some Japanese airlines, including ANA. It is not available for purchase within Japan, and is only usable by temporary visitors. Your passport may be required as identification to verify your temporary visitor status when using the pass. Private lines such as Keihan and Hankyu still require the payment of a fare. More information on the JR Pass available at http://www.japanrailpass.net/
To order your JR Pass and read more about how to use it, go to http://www.japan-rail-pass.com/
Renting a car in Japan is the best way to travel freely and to discover authentic and preserved places. The GPS in English and the 24/7 Drivin' Assistance guarantee a worry-free journey and an enjoyable change of scenery.