TOKYO KYOTO

Tokyo Kyoto - How to travel Tokyo - Kyoto including air, train and bus. Our Tokyo - Kyoto guide includes approximate travel times.

The fastest method and generally I think the best method of Tokyo Kyoto transport is via the Shinkansen (bullet train). While actual flight time between Tokyo and Kyoto is less than the bullet train, the total travel time can be more. When the flight time is combined with the additional travel times to and from the airports, plus the time required before departure, the bullet train can be faster and more convenient.

Tokyo Kyoto By Plane

Kyoto does not have its own airport. The nearest international gateway is Kansai International Airport, 73 minutes away by the fastest train. Most domestic flights land at Osaka's Itami Airport, one hour away by bus.

Kyoto is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan but it does not have its own airport. The nearest domestic airport is Itami Airport, located near Osaka. Itami Airport is Kansai's largest domestic airport. The easiest way to get to Kyoto from Itami Airport is by limousine bus. The trip takes about an hour and costs just under ¥1,300. The buses run three times an hour. Alternatively, you can take a combination of monorail and train, which requires at least two changes (monorail to Hotarugaike, Kankyu Takarazuka Line to Juso, Kankyu Kyoto Line to Kyoto) but costs just ¥650 and can be completed in an hour.

Tokyo Kyoto By Train

Most visitors arrive at JR Kyoto Station by Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo. Nozomi trains take approximately 2.15 hrs. to Kyoto and costs ¥13520 one-way. Travel agencies in Tokyo and Kyoto sell Nozomi tickets with ¥700-1,000 discount. If you buy a ticket in an agency, it is "open date" - you can board any train as long as it is not full. All you have to do is show up at the train station, register your agency ticket and then you will be reserved a seat. The trains are equipped with vending machines and attendants selling snacks. Hikari trains, which run less frequently and make a few more stops, cover the trip in around 2.45 hours, but only the Hikari and the Kodama trains can be used by Japan Rail Pass holders at no charge.

Travellers can also take advantage of the Puratto Kodama Ticket, which offers a discount on the all-stopping Kodama services if purchased at least one day in advance. You get a reserved seat and a free drink on board. With this ticket a trip from Tokyo to Kyoto costs ¥9800 yen and takes 3.45 hours. Note that there is only one Kodama service per hour from Tokyo, and a few early-morning Kodama trains cannot be used with this ticket.

During travel periods when the Seishun 18 Ticket is valid, you can go from Tokyo to Kyoto during the day in about 8.30 hours using all-local trains. Travelling in a group, is the best way to get discounts. The usual fare is ¥8000 fare however a party of three costs ¥3800 per person, and a group of five travelling together drops the price down to ¥2300 per person.

Tokyo Kyoto By Bus

As Kyoto is a major city, there are many day and overnight buses which run between Kyoto and other locations throughout Japan, which can be a cheaper alternative than shinkansen fares.

The JR Bus Group (Japanese Website) is a major operator of the routes from the Tokyo area to Kansai. Buses operate via the Tomei Expressway (to/from Tokyo Station) or the Chuo Expressway (to/from Shinjuku Station).

Other bus companies offer trips between Tokyo and Kyoto, but it should be pointed out that seat reservations for JR Buses can be made in train stations at the same "Midori-no-Madoguchi" ticket windows used to reserve seats on trains. Moreover, the Japan Rail Pass is valid on ALL JR buses operating from the Tokyo area to Kyoto. (Note that the pass is NOT valid on buses to/from Yokohama.)

From Tokyo, buses run to and from Kyoto in approximately eight hours. Major bus locations are as follows:

Tokyo: Tokyo Station Yaesu Exit (東京駅八重洲口), with a few buses discharging at the Nihombashi Exit (東京駅日本橋口)
Shinjuku: Shinjuku Station New South Exit (新宿駅新南口)
Kyoto: At Kyoto Station, most buses stop at the Karasuma Exit (京都駅烏丸口) to the north, while others use the Hachijo Exit (京都駅八条口) to the south.
All buses that run from Tokyo to Kyoto are double-decker buses and can be classified under the following two categories:

Seishun (Youth) buses: While not exactly targeted at "youth", these are the budget-conscious buses on the route. Seats are narrow with four per row with limited recline. Some of the cheapest buses offer extremely limited amenities however most buses will have a toilet.
Standard buses: These are the regular buses, which offer more spacious seating. Blankets are provided on evening routes.
The following services are available: (Current as of January, 2009)

Daytime buses from Tokyo
Standard Bus
Two daily depatures on the Tomei from Tokyo Station (9:40, 12:20) and Shinjuku Station (10:20, 13:00). Two return trips from Kyoto Station (10:20, 12:20). - 6000 each way and ¥5000 if purchased 5 days in advance on most departures.
Two daily departures on the Chuo from Tokyo Station (8:40, 10:50) and Shinjuku Station (9:20, 11:30). Two return trips from Kyoto Station (9:00, 11:00). - 6000 each way and ¥5000 if purchased 5 days in advance on most departures.

Nighttime buses from Tokyo
The nighttime bus service from Tokyo to Kansai is called Dream. This route name has several variants.

Seishun Bus
The Seishun Dream Kyoto runs on the Tomei Expressway. One daily departure from Ueno Station (21:20) and Tokyo Station (22:00). One return trip from Kyoto Station (22:20). On Fridays, weekends and holidays, an additional departure from Shin-Kiba Station in Odaiba (22:20) and Tokyo Station (23:00), plus an extra northbound run from Kyoto Station (23:10). - 5000 each way; and - 4500 if purchased 5 days in advance on most departures.
The Seishun Chuo Dream Kyoto runs on the Chuo Expressway. One daily departure from Shinjuku Station (23:10) and Kyoto Station (22:40). - 5000 each way and - 4500 if purchased 5 days in advance on most departures.

Regular Bus
The Dream Kyoto runs on the Tomei Expressway. Two daily departures from Tokyo Station (22:00, 23:10) and Kyoto Station (23:00, 23:50). One bus departs from Shin-Kiba station in Odaiba (22:20). On Fridays, weekends and holidays, an additional departure from Ueno Station (23:10) and Tokyo Station (23:40), plus an extra northbound run from Kyoto Station (22:00).
The Ladies Dream Kyoto is a special bus for women only. One daily departure from Tokyo Station (22:30) and Kyoto Station (23:20).
The Chuo Dream Kyoto runs on the Chuo Expressway. One daily departure from Shinjuku Station (23:50) and Kyoto Station (23:10). On Fridays, weekends and holidays, an additional departure from Shinjuku (22:30) and Kyoto (22:30).
For the Dream Kyoto, Ladies Dream and Chuo Dream: - 7000 each way for Monday-Thursday departures and - 8180 each way for Friday, weekday and holiday departures. There is a - 1000 discount on most departures if ticket is purchased 5 days in advance.

Other bus operators
Another bus provider on the Tokyo-Kyoto route is 123bus. An advantage over the JR Buses is that the 123bus website offers bus descriptions and booking services in English. However, many services from this company do not allow you to carry large luggage (e.g. suitcases) with you. It is best to confirm with the company whether or not there will be space for luggage before making your booking.

Kintetsu (Japanese website) and Hankyu (Japanese website) also operate buses between Kyoto and Tokyo, as well as other major cities throughout Japan.

(Article based on Wikitravel article by Wikitravel users Nzpcmad, Jose Ramos, John Grillo, Brian Kurkoski, Howard Banwell, Mary and Yann Forget, Jpatokal, Huttite, Miknon and MykReeve. Artilce used under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 1.0.)

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