KYOTO FAQ`S

How do I get from the airport to my hotel?

Kyoto is mainly serviced by two airports: Kansai International Airport and Osaka International Airport (Domestic travel only).

Kyoto does not have its own airport; the main airport servicing Kyoto is Kansai International Airport located about 25 miles, 90 minutes (by train) away from downtown Kyoto. There are several options for transportation from the airport to your hotel including the train, bus, taxis and rental cars.

Osaka International Airport (also known as Itami) is another option that services passengers traveling to Kyoto. It is closer to Kyoto than Kansai but it only handles domestic flights, for example, you may fly into Narita (the main airport in Tokyo) and transfer to Osaka. Located about 50 minutes away by car to downtown Kyoto, airport offers train service, buses, taxis and rental cars.

What types of transportation can I find at the airport?

If you have not booked a private transfer with us then you have a few options. Both airports offer the following modes of transportation to your hotel including train, bus, taxi and rental cars.

Kansai: Located on the first floor of the Terminal 1 building is a tourist information center, here you can gather information on transportation to Kyoto and book your tickets.

The fastest way to get to Kyoto from Kansai Airport is by train. The train station is located opposite the arrivals hall across the walkway. Your best bet is to take the JR Haruka Limited Express which takes around 75 minutes to reach Kyoto Station. The trains leave every 30 to 60 minutes, during peak hours 6:00 am - 9:00 am trains depart at 16 and 46 minutes past the hour and hourly outside of peak hours. Trains depart from the airport starting at 6:34 am (6:42 am on the weekends and holidays) and the last train departs at 10:16 pm.

The Nankai train line also stops in downtown Kyoto and Gion. And other JR lines run from the airport to Kyoto with the last train leaving at 10:47 pm arriving in Kyoto at 12:55 am.

Return train times from Kyoto Station back to the airport areas are as follows: First departure 5:46 am, last departure 8:16 pm. For more information on timetables and pricing visit www.kyotojp.com/haruka-time.html

The best ticket to purchase for the train on the Haruka Limited Express is the JR West Kansai Area Pass costing around ¥2,200. The pass provides you with unlimited access to the Haruka and other JR trains within the airport, Nara, Kyoto, and Himeji. A one-way ticket for the Haruka to Kyoto is normally ¥3,170. Tickets can be purchased at the JR Kansai Airport Railway Station.

Buses are available at the airport to Kyoto, the bus stops can be found outside the arrivals hall of the Terminal 1 building, on the first floor. Tickets can also be purchased outside from vending machines. Head to bus stop #8, this is the bus to Kyoto. The last bus is at 10:10 pm and the cost of a one-way ticket is approximately ¥2,500 per adult and ¥1,280 for a child, the journey takes approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes.

KATE – Kansai Airport Transportation Enterprise is a coach service that runs from the airport to several destinations across the region. The coach provides ample room for your luggage and is a direct service with prices around ¥2,550 to Kyoto.

Taxis are available, but not recommended, as the journey from the airport to downtown Kyoto is almost 2 hours, making it a very expensive ride costing anywhere from ¥32,000 and upwards.

Rental cars are available to rent at the airport and driving from the airport to Kyoto will take up to 2 hours, the car rental desks can be found in the Aeroplaza section of the airport, a three-minute walk from Terminal 1.

Osaka: There are fewer options from Osaka to Kyoto because only domestic flights fly into Osaka.

A taxi is the most convenient way to get to Kyoto, from the airport to anywhere in Kyoto costs approximately ¥3,600. Taxi desks can be found at the south end of the arrivals hall and the stands are located outside the airport terminals.

Airport limousine buses are available and run to Kyoto station, the buses can be found outside the arrivals hall and tickets can be purchased from the vending machines near the bus stop. The cost is approximately ¥1,310.

You can take the monorail from the airport to Mimani-Ibaraki Station then take the Hankyu Kyoto Train Line to Hankyu Kawaramachi.The journey takes at least 70 minutes.

How do I get from the train station to my hotel?

The main railway station is the Kyoto Station located in the south of the city which is also the location of the major bus terminal and two subway lines. Options to get from the train station to your hotel include a local bus, taxis or by foot.

How do I get around the city using public transportation?

Kyoto has many options for public transportation.

The bus network is one of the most practical and efficient ways for reaching some of the main tourist attractions in the city. The bus system is mainly geared towards tourists with destinations and announcements made in English.

One of the main bus stations is located at Kyoto Station with others situated in the city center such as Sanjo Station (outside the Sanjo Keihan subway line), Karasuma-Shijo Station and at the Kitaoji Station. There is a bus information center in front of the Kyoto Station where visitors can collect maps, buy tickets and passes.

The buses hours of operation are from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm with an approximate cost of ¥230 for adults and ¥120 for children ages 6-12.The fare is paid into a box next to the driver when you exit the bus.There are also machines onboard for exchanging coins as you will need exact change.

A Raku Bus runs a bus service for tourists taking them to many of the city`s top attractions without making other regular stops along the way. The Raku Bus offers three routes: 100, 101 and 102 and have a flat fee costing around ¥220 per ride.

There is a Hop-on, Hop-off sightseeing tour offered in the city on board K`Loop. The bus travels to the World Heritage Sites and starts the journey from the Hachijo-guchi exit at Kyoto Station. Visit www.kyoto-lab.jp/kloop for more information.

Kyoto features an extensive train network with several lines and two subway lines.

The city trains work on a grid system running North-South (characterized by names, ex: Kawaramachi Ave) and East-West (characterized by numbers ex: Shijo Ave, Ave #4). Several train lines run throughout the city and surrounding areas, some even connecting travelers to Tokyo (bullet train). Prices vary depending on the train line and distance traveled; tickets can be purchased at the stations from ticket machines.

The subway network also runs a North-South Karasuma line that goes under the Kyoto Station and East-West Tozai line that connects with the Karasuma line close to the city center at the Karasuma Oike station. A day pass for the subway costs around ¥600 with individual fares costing between ¥210 - ¥340 depending on the distance traveled. The subway runs from 5:30 am until 11:30 pm.

The city offers an extensive taxi service, making it easy to find and catch a taxi at any time of the day or night. If a taxi is available there will be a light on next to the driver, if the light is red the cab is free, if the light is green the cab is occupied. The doors of the taxis open automatically. Rates cost approximately ¥640 for the first 1.24 miles and go up in ¥100 increments for every 0.31 miles.

Passes: There are several different travel passes available and targeted towards tourists offered in the city. Here are a few options.

The Kyoto Sightseeing Card can be used for unlimited travel on the subway and city buses, a one-day pass costs around ¥1200 for adults and ¥600 for children. There is also a two-day pass available also which has to be used on two consecutive days. Passes can be purchased at the Kyoto Station from the tourist information center.

An all day pass for the city buses can be purchased for unlimited travel on the Kyoto City Bus in central Kyoto for around ¥500 per adult and ¥250 for children.

A one day pass for the subway is also available for unlimited travel on the two subway lines in the city costing approximately ¥600 for adults.

Should I rent a car in Kyoto?

If you plan to explore certain rural areas of the region then renting a car for a day or two makes sense, as most of the public transportation options do not extend to these areas. Several rental car companies are offered at the airport and in the city. You will need to acquire an international driver`s permit (IDP) and they drive on the left-hand side of the road in Japan. If you plan to have a car be sure to park outside of the city as parking is very expensive, you can use public transport to get around in the city.

Where can I park in Kyoto?

Parking in the city is available but can be very expensive, also most attractions have very limited parking spaces, and some have no parking at all. Also parking around the train stations and other areas in the city center is not allowed.

Is Kyoto a walking city?

Kyoto is a relatively flat city with the main streets in the city center laid out in a grid pattern, which makes navigating your way around easy. Kyoto is also surrounded by mountains providing visitors with spectacular hikes and trails, offering scenic surroundings and amazing views. Walking to certain attractions in the Higashiyama district is easy as many destinations are close together. Some of the main tourist attractions in Kyoto are the magnificent temples and breathtaking Japanese gardens as well as the awe-inspiring cherry blossoms in the spring! Walking around is one of the best ways to capture a glimpse of the city`s natural beauty.

Can I hire a bicycle in Kyoto?

The city offers a great variety of bike rental places especially around Kyoto Sation, Arashiyama, and Downtown Kyoto; some say biking is the best way to explore the city. The city center is formed in a grid-like layout and is pretty much flat making it easy to navigate. Down by the river (North-East side), there is a scenic riding path and bicycle tours are also popular in the city. Prices are reasonable and generally cost around ¥500 - ¥750 for the day.

Is Kyoto a dangerous city, is there anything I should be aware of?

Kyoto is a safe place to visit with a low crime rate; the people are friendly and honest. Japan has long been known as one of the world`s most crime-free countries. Use common sense and take the usual precautions as a tourist in a foreign country. Don`t walk alone at night in areas not well populated, keep your belongings secured and practice safe street smarts when out sightseeing.

What are some popular areas for shopping?

Shopping in Kyoto offers a wide variety of traditional crafts in specialty shops featuring pottery, fabrics, umbrellas, paper lanterns and lacquer ware. There is a square formed by Kawaramachi Dori, ShijoDori, Sanjo Dori and Teramachi Dori that features two covered outdoor shopping areas, a great place to stroll around and find the perfect souvenir. Under Kyoto Station, there is a shopping mall along with other department stores situated around the station. Markets are another popular shopping attraction in Kyoto with the largest flea market in Japan held at the Toji Temple on the 21st of every month, hundreds of booths selling everything from kimono`s to food in a vibrant festive atmosphere.

When can I see the cherry blossoms in Kyoto?

Cherry Blossom Season is during the spring in Japan, and Kyoto is one of the best-known places in the country to see the amazing trees in bloom. The Philosopher`s Path is a walk from Nanzen-Ji to Ginkaku-Ji along a cherry tree lined path with white blossoms. The Heian Shrine gardens feature pink blossoms. Maruyama Park`s main attraction is the cherry tree lit up in the evenings and The Nijo Castle hosts a spectacular show at night with all of the trees lit up.

Also popular in Kyoto from the middle of February to the middle of March is the plum blossoms with two popular locations at Kyoto Botanical Gardens and Kitano Tenmangu in the north.

What is the currency? Can I pay/tip in US dollars?

The currency in Japan is the yen symbolized with a ¥. US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand and be prepared to exchange your dollars to yen upon arrival. Currency exchange desks can be found at the airport and bank locations throughout the city, ATM`s are widespread.

For more detailed information, consult our guide to tipping in Japan by clicking here Japan

Is there a certain dress code when visiting temples?

When visiting temples be sure to wear appropriate clothing and remember that you are entering a place of worship, showing too much skin is inappropriate. Dress conservatively and take off your shoes before entering.

What is the food like?

Kyoto`s food culture is rich and diverse, with inspirations from the past to fresh new flavors and styles of cooking, providing visitors a unique dining experience. There are fusion restaurants found all over the city combining traditional Kyoto cuisine with cooking methods from all over the world. Kaiseki Ryori is an elaborate dining style that ranges from the aristocrat days, Shojin Ryori the vegetarian dishes developed for the Buddhist monks and Obanzai Ryori which is a home style type of cooking.

Matcha is green tea and Kyoto is well known for offering a wide variety of tea flavors and Matcha ice cream. Yatsuhashi is a popular snack, a tasty biscuit with cinnamon flavors which can be dipped in flavored matcha glazes with seasonal flavors like cherry blossom.

Some popular areas for dining in the city are by the Kamo River where open air dining is offered in the summer. Kyoto Station houses over 70 different restaurants with 20 of these at the Isetan department store on the 11th floor. Most restaurants take last orders 30 - 60 minutes prior to closing time.

What is the nightlife like?

Kyoto has a great mixture of exciting things to do in the evening. The main night scene is located in the city center around Kayamachi and Pontocho between Shijo Dori and Sanjo Dori offering a variety of bars on display including host and hostess bars and nightclubs. Gion is Kyoto`s most famous Geisha community featuring ochaya (teahouses) and Gion Corner, the place where the Minamiza Kabuki Theatre is located, offering shows with the classical Japanese dance `kabuki`.

Kyoto is famous for its sake, with the Gekkeikan Brewery located in the Fushimi area (south Kyoto), it is a 400-year-old brewery offering tours.

When can I see a Geisha in Kyoto?

Gion is Geisha central, a small neighborhood in Higashiyama-Ku located on the eastern side of the Kamo River the most famous area for geisha in the city. Around dusk, visitors are sure to catch a glimpse of a geisha or maiko (young woman in training) trotting down the streets dressed in a vibrant kimono and geta (wooden shoes) with her face painted white and her hair in a bun on their way to the ochay (teahouses).

Geisha dances are held in June in the city, a popular show and the only time visitors can capture a glimpse of the traditional dances performed. Gion Odori dances take place in October and feature both geisha and maiko and the Minamiza Theatre hosts the traditional kabuki dance shows in December.

I don’t speak Japanese will there be many people who speak English?

Japanese is the language spoken in Kyoto, but English is widely spoken throughout the country with announcements on public transportation frequently made in Japanese and English, most signs include Roman characters or an English explanation. Most Japanese people study English in junior high and high school so you are best seeking out younger people who may be able to help and translate for you. It is best to have your destinations written down in Japanese so you are able to show this to your taxi driver or people on the street. People are always willing to help whether they can speak English or not. We recommend you get a good English - Japanese guidebook and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, please, thank you, excuse me and numbers 1 - 10.

What should I do if I need medical assistance or need to go to the hospital?

The national emergency telephone number is 110.

There are several hospitals offered in the area including:

Kyoto University Hospital tel. 075 751-3111

Japan Baptist Hospital tel. 075 781 5191

Kyoto Municipal Hospital tel. 075 311-5311

Call Kyoto City International Foundation tel. 075 752-3010 for information on English speaking doctors and dentists.