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. On this page you will find the following information:
It is important to note that the following information is intended for visitors coming through Kyoto Station on enroute to Nagano and Central Japan. It only touches the surface of everything we could cover about the station and does not include detailed information about train lines running to other regions, but for visitors heading to and from our home region of Central Japan, we hope it assists in making your transfer there, as easy and smooth as possible.
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.
TOKAIDO SHINKANSEN TO / FROM KYOTO
While both are shinkansen stations, there is no direct shinkansen service between Kyoto and Nagano. Running from Shin-Osaka Station to Tokyo Station, the Tokaido Shinkansen stops at Kyoto Station as it runs east toward Central Japan, connecting with the Hokuirku Shinkansen – bound for Kanazawa via Nagano – at Tokyo. It’s important to note that if you are headed to Nagano from Kyoto, heading to Tokyo to use the Hokuriku Shinkansen isn’t the only possible route – see below for details. With that said, let’s now consider the:
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.
OTHER TRAIN LINES / SERVICES TO CENTRAL JAPAN
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.
GETTING TO / FROM 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 Kyoto 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 Kyoto and then proceed with your onward travel to Nagano.
REACHING NAGANO FROM KYOTO
From Kyoto Station, 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 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.
RAIL PASSES COVERING TRAVEL TO 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 & ACTIVATING 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.
Once you are in Japan and 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.
WHERE TO STAY WHEN VISITING KYOTO
As Japan’s most historic city, Kyoto attracts millions of visitor each year. As such, it is no surprise that there is plenty of accommodation of choose from, ranging from high-end hotels and traditional guesthouses, to mid-range and budget options dotted in and around the city. Our ‘Where To Stay In Kyoto & Nara’ page listed the best areas including accommodation listings.
40 THINGS TO DO IN KYOTO, NARA & OSAKA
Boasting some of Japan’s most important temples and shrines, the former capitals of Kyoto and Nara are the country’s most historic cities. Our ’40 Things To Do In Kyoto, Nara & Osaka’ page lists some of the most popular and rewarding attractions in the cities along with nearby Osaka – one of Japan’s great metropolises, famous for its friendly locals, food, shopping and nightlife.
HOW TO GET TO KYOTO
As a stop on the Tokaido Shinkansen line running from Tokyo to Osaka, Kyoto is quick and easy to reach while nearby Nara is connected to Kyoto and Osaka by convenient train services. Our ‘How To Get to Kyoto’ page has everything you need to know including the best train services to reach the city from many popular starting points.
PLAN YOUR VISIT TO JAPAN
Kyoto Station is just one part of Japan’s fantastic rail network. Unfathomable in its size and efficiency, moving around the country by train is easy and comfortable opening-up all regions of Japan for exploration. Our ‘Plan Your Visit’ page has everything you need to know about visiting Japan – from tips on the best time to travel, times to avoid, entering and exiting the country, money matters, staying connected, accommodation, staying safe and healthy and plenty more to ensure that you get the most out of your time here.
PRIVATE CHARTERS & TOURS IN CENTRAL JAPAN
Based in Nagano, we are the region’s No.1-rated tour and charter operator. Operating all year round, we can provide charters to any destination in Central Japan 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. All vehicles are fitted with a protective screen – separating the driver from passenger and luggage area – and our drivers wear protective masks, allowing you to move between your destinations in comfort and safety.
Why choose us?
Awarded a 2022 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 and Central Japan.
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