Kyoto (京都) is most popular destination in Japan. You may visit Kyoto by Japan Rail Pass, Kansai Area Pass, Kansai Wide Area Pass, Kansai Hiroshima Area 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 tell you the coverage of JR Pass and other rail passes in Kyoto.
*If you are looking for information about not only JR trains in Kyoto but also JR, Non JR and subway, please refer the post, Guide to take trains in Kyoto. How to choose the best route by train to get the major spots?.
Location of JR stations and routes
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 Sagano line. You can use this line to Nijo Castle and Arashiyama. From Kyoto station, you can take JR Nara line to south. There are Tofuku-ji temple, Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine and Uji.
And also one bus line runs between Kyoto station and Syuzan via Shijo-Omiya, Nijo station, Ryoanji temple, Takao. This bus line is operated by Nishinihon JR Bus which is covered by JR pass and JR West deals. This route is very scenic. Especially in autumn season, the scenery of fall foliage is breathtaking.
Basically these above train and bus lines are covered by JR pass and JR West Rail Passes.
Access to other places in Kyoto
JR Kyoto station is a bit away from most of sightseeing spots. There are many hotels and shopping complexes around Kyoto station. It is a good location to stay in Kyoto. Especially if you arrive and depart by Shinkansen, Kyoto station is the gateway. You can drop off your baggages and start to explore in Kyoto. However in Kyoto, east and north part of city have many popular places for the tourists, such as Kinkaku-ji temple (Golden Pavillion) and Ryoan-ji Temple at north, and Gion area, Kiyomizu-dera temple, Heian-jingu Shrine and Ginkaku-ji temple at east. You have to take train, subway and/or bus to get these places if you stay near Kyoto station. And subway, city bus and Non JR railways are not covered by JR pass and JR West Rail Passes.
Sagano Scenic Railway
I highly recommend you to take “Sagano Sightseeing Train” if you are interested in a scenic train ride. 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 Sagano line. Be careful that they do not have any scheduled train from December 30 to the end of February. You can get more information at this Sagano Romantic Train. You can reserve a ticket at Midori-no-madoguchi (=みどりの窓口=Reservation ticket window at major Japan Railway station). JR Pass and JR West Rail passes are not eligible to ride this train. But this is worth paying extra and spending your valuable time in Japan.