Kyoto Station is a major stop on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line running from Osaka to Tokyo, along with a many other train lines including intercity rapid services. This modern and spacious station is known for its design and ample selection of shopping and restaurants.
Located in the heart of the city, Kyoto Station services a huge number of people each day as people go about their lives and tourists scurry to and from the cities fantastic attractions and historic districts including its many temples.
The station is a stop on the Limited Express Thunderbird service which connects the city to Kanazawa on the north coast. As the northern terminus of the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line – running from Kanazawa to Tokyo via Nagano – Kanazawa is a convenient transport hub when heading to Nagano Central Japan. Similarly, Nagoya Station acts as another hub, directly accessible from Kyoto using the Tokaido Shinkansen, and from where you can head into Central Japan.
The following information is intended for visitors coming through Kyoto on enroute to Nagano and Central Japan. It only touches the surface of everything we could cover about the station but we hope it assists in making your transfer there, as easy and smooth as possible.
Shinkansen Services to/from Kyoto Station
While both are shinkansen stations, there is no direct shinkansen service between Kyoto and Nagano. Kyoto is a stop on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line while Nagano is a stop on the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line.
1 / Tokaido Shinkansen Line
Running from Shin-Osaka Station to Tokyo Station via Kyoto and Nagoya, the Tokaido Shinkansen includes the following stops:
There are three services on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line – Nozomi, Hikari and Kodama. Nozomi is the fastest but is not covered by the Japan Rail (JR) Pass. The Hikari service is and is substantially faster than Kodama services, meaning that when using the Tokaido Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka, we recommend using the Hikari service.
From Kyoto, you can reach the following stations: Osaka in 15 to 20 minutes, Nagoya 35 to 55 minutes and Tokyo 135 to 160 minutes (depending on which service you choose).
Refer to our ‘Tokaido Shinkansen Timetable’ page for the daily schedule. The Japan Rail (JR) Pass covers services on the Tokaido Shinkansen – other than the Nozomi – and all services on the Hokuriku Shinkansen including Nagano Station. See below for details.
2 / Limited Express Thunderbird to Kanazawa
Running from Osaka Station followed by Kyoto Station and onto Kanazawa Station – via Shin-Osaka, Fukui and other stations – the Limited Express Thunderbird is a rapid service which connects the city to Japan’s north coast.
While this isn’t a shinkansen service, it is a fast, convenient and comfortable way to access one of Central Japan’s major cities and transport hubs – Kanazawa. The Thunderbird service includes the following stops:
*Please note, stations marked in bold / red on the map are stops on all services. Those not marked in bold are only serviced by certain services throughout the day. Some Thunderbird services also go past Kanazawa onto the following stations Tsubata – Unoke – Takamatsu – Hakui – Yoshikawa – Nanao – Wakuraonsen. Refer to our ‘Limited Express Thunderbird Timetable’ page for the daily schedule.
The Thunderbird is covered by the full Japan Rail (JR) Pass and Japan Rail (JR) Hokuriku Arch Pass. From Shin-Osaka Station to Kanazawa Station takes approximately 150 minutes and costs JPY7260 for a non-reserved seat and JPY7590 for a reserved seat.
3 / Limited Express Haruka to Kansai Airport
For visitors flying in or out of Kansai Airport, Kyoto Station can be reached directly using the Limited Express Haruka. The line runs from the airport to Shin-Osaka and onto Kyoto Station before terminating at Maibara Station.
The service includes both reserved and non-reserved seating. From the airport to Shin-Osaka Station takes around 80 minutes and costs JPY3230 for a reserved seat and JPY2900 for a non-reserved seat. If you are headed to Nagano/Central Japan from the airport, this will be the most convenient airport service to use to reach Shin-Osaka or Kyoto and then proceed with your onward travel to Nagano – see below for details.
Reaching Nagano from Kyoto Station
From Kyoto, visitors have three options for reaching Nagano. All options take around 4 hours:
The Limited Express Thunderbird connects Kyoto Station to Central Japan via Kanazawa. Frequent services run between the cities and Kanazawa and takes 125 minutes / JPY6490 to reach Kanazawa from Kyoto.
Once in Kanazawa, switch to the Hokuriku Shinkansen bound for Nagano. There are four services on the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line – the Kagayaki, Hakutaka, Asama and Tsurugi – however only the Kagayaki and Hakuata services connect Kanazawa and Nagano. Using the Kagayaki, the journey from Kanazawa to Nagano takes 65 minutes / JPY8920 or 85 to 90 minutes / JPY8590 using the Hakutaka.
The Tokaido Shinkansen Line connects Kyoto and many other stops including Nagoya before terminating in Tokyo. To access Nagano and Central Japan via Nagoya, take the Tokaido Shinkansen to Nagoya Station – 35 min / JPY5170 – from Kyoto.
Once in Nagoya, switch to the Limited Express Wide View Shinano bound for Nagano – a journey of around 3 hours / JPY6930.
The final option is to take the Tokaido Shinkansen Line all the way to Tokyo Station from Kyoto – 130 to 160 min / JPY13,320. Time taken depends on which service you choose.
Once in Tokyo, switch to the Hokuriku Shinkansen bound for Nagano – 90 to 110 minutes / JPY8000-9000 (depending on which service you choose).
All listed services are covered by the Japan Rail (JR) Pass. The Japan Rail (JR) Hokuriku Arch Pass will cover the first option including the Hokuriku Shinakansen– via Kanazawa – but does not cover the Tokaido Shinkansen between Kyoto and Tokyo – included in the second and third options.
Japan Rail (JR) Passes covering travel to/from Kyoto
There is no escaping the fact that travel using the shinkansen is expensive. Given the speed and distances covered by these trains, travelers should think of them much like taking a flight, with tickets accordingly priced. International visitors to Japan have the option of purchasing one of several passes which allow for unlimited use on many services, starting with the full:
Japan Rail (JR) Pass
Covering all 9 shinkansen lines in Japan and many other train services, the JR Pass is a great option for visitors planning to use the shinkansen more than a handful of times and/or travel large distances.
Travelers have the option of 7, 14 and 21-day passes covering either Ordinary or Ordinary and Green Cars.The JR Pass includes use of the Tokaido Shinkansen Line – other than Nozomi services – at no additional cost but noting that should holders wish to have a reserved seat, they are still required to book a seat at the ticket office (at no additional cost).
Hokuriku Arch Pass
Valid for 7 consecutive days from date of activation, the Hokuriku Arch Pass covers train services from Tokyo – including trains from both Narita and Haneda Airports – to Nagano and Kanazawa and then onto Kyoto, Osaka and Kansai Airport.
For many international visitors, this pass covers the majority of their intended destinations as the they follow the most popular tourist route from Tokyo to Kanazawa and onto Kyoto and Osaka. Notably cheaper than the full JR Pass, the Hokuriku Arch Pass offers fantastic convenience and savings.
Purchasing a JR Pass
Passes can be purchased via the official website or via a JR-affiliated overseas sales office. Once you have completed payment, you will receive an exchange order. This is a proof of payment and looks almost like a flight ticket with your personal details, type of pass, and validity (three months from the date of issue).
It is important to note that the exchange order is not your actual pass and will need to be exchanged for your pass once in Japan. Whatever you do, do not lose the exchange order and prioritise exchanging it for your pass when you arrive.
Activating a JR Pass
Prior to using your pass, you must actually get your hands on it by exchanging the order/proof of purchase you received online. This can be done a numerous JR Pass Exchange Offices found at any major train station or airport, including Kansai International Airport, Chubu Centrair International Airport serving Nagoya, along with Narita Airport and Haneda Airport in Tokyo.
While at Kyoto Station, passes can also be exchanged/activated at these offices:
Ticket Office JR West Central: 06:00 to 22:00
Ticket Office JR Central Hachijo Shinkansen: 08:30 to 23:00
JR Tokai Tours Kyoto Office: 08:00 to 20:00
Nippon Travel Agency TiS Kyoto Branch: 11:00 to 19:00
JR Tokai Tours Kyoto Station Central Entrance Office: 09:30 to 19:30 (18:00 on weekends & holidays)
To exchange/activate your pass you will need your exchange order and passport. Make sure you allow adequate time to exchange and activate your pass if you are intending to use it on the same day or do so a day or two before you plan to start using it (you can always nominate a later activation date).
Once you have your activated pass you are free to ride however you can’t insert your pass into the ticket gates. Simply walk through the side booth (permanently attended by station staff) and show your pass. You will be waved through and you can make your way to the platform.
Kyoto Station Tourist Information
The Kyoto Station Tourist Information Center is located on the second-floor of the station, in the main area as you come up the escalators from ground-level. Located to your right, the office is large and easy to spot. Open daily from 08:30 to 19:00, full-time English, Chinese and Korean-speaking staff are on-hand to assist with general any tourism, accommodation and transport-related enquiries.
Accommodation In & Around the Station
Visitors coming through Kyoto Station might want to consider staying in or nearby the station. As one of Japan’s major train stations, there are many options surrounding the station including hotels directly accessible from inside the station – a great option to avoid having to carry luggage with you and when using the shinkansen to move to and from Kyoto. For hotel bookings in and around the station, see our ‘Kyoto Station Area’ hotel page and for suggestions of other areas to stay around the city, see our ‘Where to Stay in Kyoto ‘& Nara?’ page.
Private Charters & Tours in Central Japan
Based in Nagano, Snow Monkey Resorts is the region’s No.1-rated tour and charter operator. Operating all year round, we can provide charters to any destination including Nagoya, with customised itineraries to suit your travel needs and interests. We have the expertise and experience to help you get the most out of your time in the region, including transport to and from any regional destination.
Our drivers and vehicles are fully certified, allowing us to transport you to and from your preferred destinations, in combination with any activity that suits your interests and schedule.
Why choose us?
Awarded a 2019 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award for our 1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake Tour – recognised as one of the Top 10 Experiences in Japan – we have the local knowledge and experience to help you get the most out of your time in Nagano.
Got a question about visiting Nagano and Central Japan from Kyoto? Feel free to contact us at email@example.com and let’s get planning together!