How to use JR Pass in downtown Kyoto. Find how much you can use Japan Rail Pass in Kyoto.

Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and Nara
There are a big number of Torii at Fushimi Inari shrine. ©Kyoto Convention Bureau /©JNTO
Kyoto Imperial Palace ©Akira Okada/©JNTO
Kyoto Imperial Palace ©Akira Okada/©JNTO

Kyoto is most popular destination in Japan. You may visit Kyoto by JR Pass and other JR West Rail Passes. You may be wondering how much you can use your pass to explore Kyoto?

In this post, I explain you about the coverage of JR Pass and other rail passes in Kyoto.

Explaination by movie

You may watch same content as this post in the movie below as well.

Overview

First of all, please see the map below. I put train routes, a bus route and the name of the tourist spots in the map.

Click to view large.

These are covered by JR Pass. And also these following other regional JR deal have same coverage:

Kansai Area Pass does not cover West Japan JR Bus line but it covers Kyoto subway and some part of Keihan railway. Please find more information in the post below:

Takayama Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass can take you to Kyoto. But it does not cover any modes of transportation after arrival in Kyoto.

How to get Kyoto by JR Pass and JR regional passes

There are many ways to get Kyoto.

The Tokaido Shinkansen

You can get Kyoto by the Shinkansen from Tokyo, Yokohama, Odawara (near Hakone), Nagoya, Shin-Osaka, Okayama, Hiroshima, Hakata and many more stations. Please find more information of the Shinkansen in the link below:

The limited express Haruka

If you arrive in Kansai airport and move to Kyoto right after, you may take Haruka. It takes you to Kyoto directly.

Limited Express Haruka from KIX is covered.

You may use this train for Tennoji to Kyoto or Shin-Osaka to Kyoto instead of taking a local train.

Special Rapid train

Special Rapid Service is the fastest commute train between Himeji, Kobe, Osaka and Kyoto

Special Rapid train runs every 15 minutes day time. It offers very frequent and very fast service. It takes just 30 minutes from Osaka to Kyoto. The trip time is same as other limited express train. The Shinkansen is fast but you have to change trains at Shin-Osaka. If you travel from Osaka (Umeda) to Kyoto. This train is the best choice.

From Kanazawa, Amanohashidate, Kinosaki, Nara

Kyoto is connected with these cities as well. You can get Kyoto from Kanazawa by the limited express Thunderbird. From Amanohashidate, you can take the limited express Hashidate. The limited express Kinosaki connects Kyoto and Kinosaki Onsen. And Nara and Kyoto are connected by JR Nara line. You can get Kyoto from Nara by a local train or a rapid train.

The coverage of JR Pass and JR regional passes

There are tree routes are covered.

JR Sagano line

Sagano line is shown in a pink line. You can get these following places by this line:

  • Kyoto Railway Museum (from Umekoji -Kyotonishi station)
  • Kyoto Aquarium (from Umekoji-Kyotonishi station)
  • Nijo castle (from Nijo station)
  • Toei Uzumasa Eigamura (from Uzumasa station)
  • Arashiyama (from Saga-Arashiyama station)
  • Sagano Scenic Railway, a.k.a. Torokko train (from Saga-Arashiyama station)

A local train and a rapid train runs every 15 minutes in daytime.

Sagano Scenic Railway departs from JR Saga-Arashiyama station but this train is not covered by JR Pass and JR regional deals.

Nara line

This line is shown in a brown line. This line connects Kyoto and Nara. These following places can be accessed by Nara line:

  • Tofuku-ji temple (from Tofukuji station)
  • Fushimi Inari shrine (from Inari station)
  • Uji (from Uji station)

I did not put any stations on the map between Uji and Inari. But there are many stations. It take 5 to 10 minutes to get Tofukuji and Inari from Kyoto. But it takes 30 minutes from Kyoto station to Uji. Uji is located in the middle of Kyoto and Nara.

A local train and a rapid train runs every 10 to 15 minutes in daytime.

West Japan JR bus

There are huge number of bus routes in Kyoto. You can get almost anywhere in Kyoto by a bus. Most bus routes are operated by Kyoto city bus which is not covered by JR Pass and JR regional deals. But there is only one route which is operated by West Japan JR Bus. This is covered by JR Pass and JR regional deals.

This route connects Kyoto station and Takao. There are some tourist spots on the route of this bus service:

  • Kitano Tenmangu shrine (from Kitano bus stop)
  • Kinkaku-ji temple, a.k.a. Golden Pavillion (from Wara Tenjin bus stop)
  • Ryoan-ji temple (from Ryoanji bus stop)

This bus runs every 15 minutes between 8:00 and 18:00.

Around Kyoto station

JR Kyoto station is the biggest shopping area in Kyoto. There are some shopping buildings around the station. And Kyoto tower is located in front of the station.

The places which are not covered

Eastern and northern Kyoto are not covered by JR Pass and JR regional deals. These following popular places cannot be accessed by JR Pass and JR regional deals:

  • Kiyomizu-dera temple
  • Yasaka shrine
  • Gion
  • Nishiki Market
  • Imperial Palace
  • Ginkaku-ji temple
  • Kurama
  • Kifune shrine
  • Hieizan

You have to take Keihan Railway, Hankyu Railway, Kyoto city subway, Kyoto city bus and/or Eizan Railway to get these places. Please refer the post below to find all trains information:

I hope you have foud how to maximize using JR Pass in Kyoto. Enjoy your trip to Kyoto.

Comments

  1. Season says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    May I know if the JR West Kansai Wide Area Pass covers the JR Sagano line?

    Thanks!

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      JPRail says:

      Hi Season,

      Yes, it does.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

      • Season says:

        Takeshi, thanks!

        I would like to make a day-trip from Kyoto to Amanohashidate using the Kansai Wide Area Pass. Understand that from Fukuchiyama to Amanohashidate, I would have to pay extra since it is not covered by the Pass. I am concerned with the transfer time, as below:
        8:35 Fukuchiyama (from Kyoto)
        8:53 Fukuchiyama to Amanohashidate
        Interval = 18mins
        19:24 Fukuchiyama (from Amanohashidate)
        19:29 Fukuchiyama to Kyoto
        Interval = 5mins

        Could you help to advise if the interval time is sufficient for the transfer? Thanks!

  2. uzku – Berlin
    Pau says:

    Hi can you please tell me the number of the Bus line that is from Japan Railways, so that I can find it in Kyoto Station. Thank you

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      JPRail says:

      Hi Pau,

      It does not have any bus number because there is only one bus line by JR Nishinion bus.
      Bus stop is located near Karasumaguchi exit.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  3. Mag says:

    Hi, i want to know if the JR West Kansai Wide Area Pass (4days) will cover the JR buses?

  4. Hi JP Rail. Many thanks for your wonderful explanations.Wanted to ask you if I stay in Grand prince kyoto will my JR pass help in any way? what would be the cheapest way to go to and from kyoto attractions?

    Thanks!

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      JPRail says:

      Hi Tranquilsun,

      Your hotel cannot be accessed by JR Pass. You have to take subway Karasuma line from Kyoto station. It takes about 20 minutes.

      As I explained in the post, JR Pass is not very useful in Kyoto. You can buy subway/bus day pass or simply use single ticket.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  5. Carol says:

    Hi,

    The video on sagano train is lovely. Can’t wait to go. Do you know if there luggage locker at the jr sagano train station….

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      JPRail says:

      Hi Carol,

      There are some lockers. But sometimes it may be full. If access there from JR Kyoto station, Kyoto station has many more.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  6. kate says:

    We are planning to fly to Kansai airport and would like to train to Kyoto.
    Stay kyoto for 2 days – visit Kanazawa
    Then train to Tokyo. Stay 1 week – Visit Takayama and Hakone/Mt Fuji
    Fly out of Narita Is it worthwhile to buy JR Pass?

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      JPRail says:

      Hi Kate,

      It will be very close to 7 days pass price. If you have another trip, like to Nikko, Kanazawa, the pass will be cheaper.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  7. Jorge says:

    I traveled to Kyoto last month and I can confirm that the bus line between Kyoto station and Syuzan that you mention as added information is covered by the JR Pass, so it’s really useful if you plan a route that includes Nijo castle, Kinkakuji, Ryoanji and Ninnaji 🙂

    Greetings from Spain and happy new year!

  8. Johnboy says:

    We are travelling from Tokyo to Kyoto by train, and will buy a JR Rail Pass.
    In Kyoto, our hotel is near Tanbaguchi Station. Can we continue on the train to this station or must we change at Kyoto Station? If so, what do we change onto?

  9. Susan says:

    Greetings from sunny Hawaii! We will soon be coming to Kyoto for a vacation. We are very excited and looking forward to our trip. After visiting Kyoto, we would like to take a train to Osaka, where we plan to stay for a few days, then fly back to Hawaii from Kansai International Airport. Would you please give me instructions on the best way to get from Kyoto station to Osaka station (not riding the Shinkansen). Is there an express train? Thank you very much!

  10. Andy says:

    I would agree in Kyoto, the bus and subway is more convienent with the exception of Arashiyama.

    I Have never been the the nothern town of Kurama, part of Kyoto an accessable by the Kyoto Eizan Railway. I am told really worthwhile visiting. Is there a ticket which includes the Private lines in Kyoto (such as the Eizan line)?

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      JPRail says:

      Hello Andy,
      Yes. Kurama (=鞍馬) is worthwhile visiting especially in autumn (late Oct to mid Nov).
      Eizan Railway that take us to Kurama from Demachiyanagi is subsidiary company of major private company, Keihan railway. Keihan offers some kinds of Day-pass. But most of day pass is available from Osaka. If you stay in Kyoto, it is better to buy the single ticket.
      Takeshi / JP Rail

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