Translated by Lester Somera
How to Access Kyoto Station and the Kyoto City Center via Osaka
Written by Keisuke Yamada
For a better travel experience, when you head from Osaka into Kyoto, you should use either the JR or Hankyū train lines, depending on your destination.
With its temples and shrines, the city of Kyoto is a popular sightseeing destination for Japanese people and visitors from overseas. The city of Osaka has just as much allure as Kyoto, boasting affordable and delicious food, great shopping spots and plenty of entertainment options.
It might be hard for foreign travelers to get a grasp on the distances between Japanese cities, but Kyotoand Osaka are extremely close to each other. For that reason, if you have some leeway on your sightseeing tour, we recommend checking out Kyotoand Osaka together.
This time, we will explain how to get from Osaka to Kyoto, which can be difficult for first-time visitors to Japan.
Two Points To Be Aware Of
a. The Difference Between Osaka Station and Umeda Station
First, let’s clarify the difference between Osaka Station and Umeda Station. These major stations are located in the center of Osaka, and people use both of them to access Kyoto.
They are within walking distance of each other, but Osaka Station is run by Japan Railways (JR), while Umeda is operated by Hankyū (阪急) and Hanshin (阪神) Railways.
b. KyotoStation is Surprisingly Far From the City Center
Next, let’s talk about KyotoStation and the city center.
KyotoStation is operated by JR, but the most thriving part of KyotoCity is actually the area around Hankyū Kawaramachi (河原町) Station. The 2.7 km distance between the two can be traversed on foot in 30 minutes, or in 15 minutes via bus or train (counting transfers).
If you don’t check whether your final destination is closer to KyotoStation or Kawaramachi Station before arriving in Kyoto, you will waste time on an unnecessary commute.
Next, we will explain how to reach either station from the heart of Osaka.
*A compilation of spots around KyotoStation and Kawaramachi Station is located at the end of this article for your reference.
1. Getting to JR KyotoStation
Take the JR KyotoLine from Osaka Station to get to KyotoStation. It can be boarded at platforms 7 through 10, so check the station guide to be sure of where you’re going.
There are local, rapid, and special rapid trains on the KyotoLine. We recommend that you take the special rapid (shin-kaisoku 新快速) train, which runs the 29-minute Osaka-to-Kyotoroute four times an hour during the day. These trains can be bound for Takatsuki, Yasu, Nagahama or Tsuruga, but they all pass through KyotoStation.
On the platform, line up behind the blue triangular markings, which indicate where to wait for the special rapid train.
There are also orange markings which indicate the line for the rapid train, so be sure not to mix them up.
2. Going to Hankyū Kawaramachi
To get to Hankyū Kawaramachi, use Hankyū Umeda Station. You can board the train from platforms 1 through 3. While there are a variety of trains (express limited, limited express, commuter express, rapid express, rapid, semi-express and local) on this line, you should take the limited express (tokkyū 特急) train. It takes 43 minutes to get from Umeda to Kawaramachi.
Bonus: Sightseeing Spots Around Kyotoand Kawaramachi Stations
Three Spots to Visit Around KyotoStation
1) Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社)
Fushimi Inari Taisha is famous for its thousand torii gates. It’s easy to access from KyotoStation. Take the JR Nara Line two stops to Inari Station, then walk for five minutes. The 140-yen train ride takes just five minutes, so it’s the cheapest and fastest route.
2) Nishi-Honganji (西本願寺)
Nishi-Honganji, counted as one of Japan’s World Heritage Sites, is a popular tourist destination located just a ten-minute walk away from KyotoStation.
3) KyotoTower (京都タワー)
KyotoTower, located in front of KyotoStation, is the highest building in the city. It contains the KyotoTower Hotel, a Starbucks Coffee location, a Daikoku Drug drugstore, a 100-yen shop, a kimono rental store, tourist information counters and more.
Three Spots to Visit Around Kawaramachi Station
1) Nijō Castle (Nijō-jō 二条城)
Nijō Castle, another World Heritage Site, can be accessed particularly easily from Kawaramachi.
2) Nanzenji (南禅寺)
Nanzenji is closest to Keage Station on the municipal subway’s Tōzai Line. You can get on the Tōozai Line from Sanjō Keihan Station, a 15-minute walk from Kawaramachi Station.
3) Other Major Sightseeing Spots
Places like Kinkakuji (金閣寺), Ryōanji (龍安寺), Ninnaji (仁和寺), and Kitano-Tenmangū (北野天満宮) are closer to Kawaramachi Station than KyotoStation. There are many buses running in the area, so when going to these temples, we recommend that you take a bus from Kawaramachi.