Kyoto is the biggest name in Japan. Most of you will visit Kyoto. JR Kyoto station is probably the first step to Kyoto for you. There are so many trains, such as Shinkansen, Limited Express Haruka from Kansai airport, Limited Express Thuderbird to Kanazawa, commute trains to Osaka, Kobe and Nara, Kintetsu train, Kyoto city subway and many many more to depart and arrive in this station.
Now I would like to explain about Kyoto station. I will show you how to transfer among many trains there.
- 1 Station structure, tracks and platforms
- 2 Ticket gate/Exit
- 3 How to transfer among JR trains, Kintesu trains and Kyoto subway trains
- 4 JR Pass and JR West Passes (Kansai Area Pass, Kansai WIDE Area Pass and etc) sales and exchange place
Station structure, tracks and platforms
Kyoto station Karasuma side (north side) has a huge station building. There are Hotel Granvia and Isetan Department Store.
Before I talk about station, please see the map at JR West official website.
Four railway companies, JR Central (Tokaido Shinkansen to Tokyo, Nagoya, Shin-Osaka), JR west (Kyoto line, Biwako line, Nara line, Sagano line, Haruka and many more), Kintetsu Railway (to Nara, Ise, Nagoya) and Kyoto Subway Karasuma line trains depart / arrive in Kyoto station. JR Central and JR West are technically different companies. But both companies are same JR group and those are covered by JR Pass as you probably know. (But Nozomi of Tokaido Shinkansen is not covered by JR Pass.)
Kyoto station is three levels structure. On the ground floor, all JR West line’s platforms are located. You can take the train to Nara (Nara line), Kyoto line (Osaka, Kobe), Sagano line (Arashiyama), Limited Express Haruka (Kansai airport), Limited Express Thunderbird (Kanazawa), Limited Express Kinosaki (Kinosaki Onsen) and many more trains.
Shinkansen’s platforms are located at third floors and Kintetsu Railway’s platforms are located at second floors and is just under Shinkansen tracks.
All platforms are connected overpass walkway at second level, west side. You can find it at the right side of JR West map and it says “South-north pedestrian walkway”. You can use this walkway without ticket too.
On the other hand, there is underground walkway too. It connects all JR West lines, Shinkansen and Kyoto Subway Karasuma line. If you transfer to subway, you will use this walkway. You can find this walkway at left side of JR West map. It says “Underground pedestrian walkway”.
All platforms and tracks of Kyoto station are the following:
JR West lines (Conventional lines, other than Shinkansen)
Limited Express Thunderbird
Limited Express Shinano
Limited Express Hida
Nagano via Nagoya
Takayama via Gifu
Biwako line Local, Special Rapid
Kosei line Local, Special Rapid
|Kusatsu, Hikone, Maibara
Kyoto line Local
Kyoto line Special Rapid, Rapid
|Shin-Osaka, Osaka, Sannomiya, Kobe, Himeji|
Limited Express Super Hakuto
Limited Express Kuroshio
|Tottori via Shin-Osaka, Osaka, Himeji
Shirahama, Kii-Katsuura, Shingu via Shin-Osaka and Tennoji
Nara line Local
|Inari, Uji, Nara|
|30||Limited Express Haruka||Kansai Airport via Shin-Osaka, Tennoji|
|31||Limited Express Maizuru, Hashidate, Kinosaki||Fukuchiyama, Kinosaki-Onsen, Amanohashidate, Higashi-Maizuru|
|32,33,34||Sagano line Local Rapid||Saga-Arashiyama, Kameoka, Sonobe|
As you saw, Kyoto station has so many tracks and platforms. You may be overwhelmed. There are some tricky part, like track #0 instead of #1, track #30 – 34 for Haruka and Sagano line trains.
But there are so many signage in English. Kyoto is the international destination. So don’t worry. Things will be much easier than you think.
JR Central lines (Shinkansen)
|1,2||Tokaido Shinkansen||Nagoya, Tokyo, Shin-Yokohama, Odawara, Atami|
|3,4||Shin-Osaka, Himeji, Hiroshima, Hakata, Kumamoto, Kagoshima-Chuo|
There are only two platforms and four tracks. It is quite simple and easy to understand to get direction.
|1,2||Limited Express||Nara, Kashiwara-Jingumae, Ise|
|3,4||Nara line Express, Semi Express, Local||Tambabashi, Yamato-Saidaiji, Nara, Kashiwara-Jingumae|
Kintetsu Kyoto station has four tracks only. Two tracks are for limited express and other two are for local trains. There is only one ticket gate and very simple.
You can watch this Youtube movie to see Kintetsu Kyoto station.
|1||Karasuma line||Takeda, Nara|
There is only one platform. Once you get there, you cannot lose your way.
*All above train icons are produced by Train Front View.
Kyoto station has two sides, Karasuma (north) and Hachijo (south). Both sides are connected by walkway underground and overpass. Both sides have several ticket gates. Before I explain about gates, Please refer JR West Kyoto station map again.
Central Gate and Underground Central Gate
This is the main gate of Kyoto station. Most of bus services depart and arrive at this side.
In the map, Underground Central Gate is not shown. But it is located just under Central Gate. It connects to underground shopping complex.
This gate is located in the middle of overpass. It is connected with South-North pedestrian walkway and can be accessed to both Hachijo and Karasuma side.
Shinkansen Central Gate
You can find is at upper middle of the map.
If you transfer from Shinkansen to Kintetsu Railway, this is the best way. You may exit from this gate to Karasuma side after getting off Shinkansen. After you exit this gate, you can take South-north pedestrian walkway to get Karasuma side.
Shinkansen Hachijo Gate
This is one of Shinkansen ticket gates and it is located at the center of Hachijo side on ground floor. You can find it at the middle of the map.
If you want to exit to Hachijo side, this gate is the closest.
Hachijo East Gate
There are both Shinkansen and Conventional trains gates. Especially if you transfer to subway from Shinkansen, this gate is the easiest way.
Underground East Gate
It is located in the underground at Karasuma side. You can find it at lower middle in the map. If you want to transfer from JR train to subway, this gate is the best way.
This gate can be accessed from Sagano line platform only. It is small and connect to mega retail store “Big Camera”. I think you will not use this gate. But the map shows it and I would line to mention it just for your information.
Shinkansen Transfer Gate
When you transfer between Shinkansen and conventional trains (JR trains other than Shinkansen), you have to go through Shinkansen Transfer Gate because fare system is different. If you use JR pass or other passes, you cannot go through automatic ticket gate. You can go through manned wicket and show your pass and Shinkansen ticket.
Kintetsu Ticket Gate
It is located in front of Shinkansen Central Gate. There is only one gate of Kintetsu railway.
Kyoto Subway Karasuma Line Ticket Gate
There are four gates for subway. You can find Subway Ticket Gate near Underground East Gate and Hachijo East Gate. Especially Underground East Gate is located just in front of Subway Ticket Gate.
How to transfer among JR trains, Kintesu trains and Kyoto subway trains
There are many ticket gates. Let’s see all transfers in Kyoto station. I also show you minimum connecting time.
Shinkansen – Conventional lines (10 minutes)
Do not exit and go through Shinkansen transfer gate.
Conventional lines – Kintetsu Railway (10 minutes)
Exit at West Gate and go to Kintetsu ticket gate
Conventional lines – Kyoto Subway (10 minutes)
Exit at Underground East Gage and go to subway ticket gate
Shinkansen – Kintetsu Railway (10 minutes)
Exit at Shinkansen Central Gate and go to Kintetsu ticket gate
Shinkansen – Kyoto Subway (10 minutes)
Exit at Shinkansen Hachijo East Gate and go to subway ticket gate
Kintetsu – Kyoto Subway (15 minutes)
Exit at Kintetsu ticket gate and go through Hachijo side and then go to underground to subway ticket gate.
But Kyoto Subway Karasuma line and Kintetsu line go through each other. Some of subway trains run on Kintetsu line. You may not need to transfer at Kyoto station when you go to Nara / come back from Nara.
The movie below shows you transfer from Shinkansen to Kyoto subway. You may think it is complicated. But there are lots of signage in English. As long as you follow the sign, it will be okay.
Next movie shows you how to transfer from Shinkansen to Kintetsu.
The last movie shows you how to transfer from JR conventional line (such as Special Rapid) to Kyoto subway Karasuma line at the movie below.
Go down to underground path, and proceed to Underground East exit and you will find subway ticket gate.
JR Pass and JR West Passes (Kansai Area Pass, Kansai WIDE Area Pass and etc) sales and exchange place
Please see JR West Kyoto station map again. You can find “star marked” beside Central Gate. That is the place to exchange and purchase. This ticket window is open 5:30 to 23:00. You can also exchange JR Pass at Shinkansen Hachijo Gate too. Since this is JR Central ticket office, you cannot purchase JR West Passes there.