Japan Rail Pass is the best way to explore Kyoto? How to use Japan Rail Pass in Kyoto


Kyoto Imperial Palace ©Akira Okada/©JNTO
Kyoto Imperial Palace ©Akira Okada/©JNTO

Kyoto (京都) is most famous sightseeing destination in Japan. Most of you visit Kyoto by Japan Rail Pass. Hikari and Kodama on Tokaido Shinkansen can take you to Kyoto. You might stay in Kyoto for multiple days and use Japan Rail Pass before arrival at Kyoto and after departure from Kyoto. Some of you are wondering if we can use Japan Rail Pass to explore Kyoto?

In this post, I tell you how much you can use Japan Rail Pass to explore in Kyoto.

*If you are looking for information about all trains in Kyoto, please refer the post, Guide to take trains in Kyoto. How to choose the best route by train to get the major spots?.

First of all, please see the map below. I put some placemarks on the map. These marks show you some of the popular spot and Japan Railway stations.


View How to use Japan Rail Pass in Kyoto in a larger map

You can find the line from the center to upper left. That is Sanin line (=山陰本線 a.k.a. Sagano line=嵯峨野線). You can use this line to Nijo Castle (二条城) and Arashiyama (嵐山). Actually Japan Railway Kyoto station is a bit away from most of sightseeing spot. There are some hotels around Kyoto station. But that is not perfect location to stay in Kyoto. East and North side are very popular for the tourists. Because there are Kinkaku-ji temple and Ryoan-ji Temple at North side. There are Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Heian-jingu Shrine and Ginkaku-ji Temple at East side. Especially Kawaramachi and Sanjo area are the core of Kyoto city. It is very close to East side. So I recommend to stay there. But if you want to explore East side and North side of Kyoto, you cannot use Japan Railway. You need to use some private company’s line (such as Hankyu or Keihan). If you stay at the hotel in Kyoto, I recommend to use Kyoto city bus lines and subway lines. They sell Kyoto Sightseeing One and Two-day Pass Card. you can buy one day at adult/1,200 yen and child/600 yen, or two day at adult/2,000yen and child/1,000yen. Both cards are available for both bus and subway. You can go almost anywhere in Kyoto. If you need more informations, please refer Kyoto city public transportation website.

Added information
I added one bus line between Kyoto station and Syuzan via Shijo-Omiya, Nijo station, Ryoanji temple, Takao. This route is very scenic. There are lots of temples. Especially in Autumn season, the color leaves are gorgeous! This bus line is operated by Nishinihon JR Bus. According to Japan Rail Pass rule, all JR bus local lines are covered by the pass. I haven’t confirmed it yet. But in my understanding, it is covered by the pass.

Are you interested in Cruising train in Arashiyama, Kyoto? I strongly recommend to take “Sagano Sightseeing Tram”. Especially the scenery is breathtaking in the cherry blossom season (late March to beginning of April) and fall color leaves season (November). I show you two of their movies. The first movie is shot in the spring. The second one is shot in the autumn.

You can take this train at Saga-Arashiyama station on Sanin Line. Be careful that they do not have any scheduled train from December 30 to the end of February. You can get more informations at this PDF file. You can reserve a ticket at Midori-no-madoguchi (=みどりの窓口=Reservation ticket window at major Japan Railway station). Japan Rail Pass is not eligible for taking this train. But this is worth spending your money and your valuable time.

Find your hotels in 218 cities throughout Japan!!!

Karasuma Hotel Kyoto Traditional tatami room
Nine Hours Teramachi Kyoto Perfect location and price

84 thoughts on “Japan Rail Pass is the best way to explore Kyoto? How to use Japan Rail Pass in Kyoto”

  1. Hello, I will be heading to Japan next year in March.

    Day 1: Tokyo (Shinjuku, Harajuku, Tokyo Sky Tree)
    Day 2: Tokyo (Tsukiji, Meji Shrine, Asakusa)
    Day 3: Kyoto (Ginkakuji, Kiyomizudera etc)
    Day 4: Kyoto > Nara > Kyoto
    Day 5: Osaka (Osaka Castle, Ootobori)
    dAY 6: Tokyo

    Is it worth it to get the unlimited JR Pass or what other passes am I able to get?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Sylvia,

      You have to add some single ticket or pass to take subway in Tokyo and Kyoto because some places cannot be accessed by JR Pass. But JR Pass is the best choice. This is only pass to cover most part of your long transfer in the trip. There is no other deals that is better than JR pass. You may find the coverage of JR pass for the trip in Tokyo and Nara at the following links. You may find it for Kyoto in the post above.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/best-way-efficient-how-much-can-we-use-japan-rail-pass-in-downtown-tokyo.html
      http://jprail.com/destinations/kansai-area/how-to-access-to-nara-by-japan-rail-pass-if-you-dont-use-jr-pass-kintetsu-railway-is-more-convenient.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  2. Hi!

    1.will be going to kyoto from Osaka, want to know how to go to Kiyomizu temple, kodaiji temple, Yasaka shrine and Marayuma park using the JR Pass

    2.then going back to kyoto from Osaka – Arashiyama and Sagano walking tour, Fushimi Inari shirne

    Thank you

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