Japan Train Stations: Kyoto Station
Kyoto Station 京都駅
Kyoto Station is located in the south of Kyoto city at the end of the north-south Karasuma dori and just south of the east-west Shichijo dori. Kyoto Tower is directly opposite the main Central Exit.
Opened in 1997 to celebrate the 1,200th anniversary of the foundation of Kyoto (Heian-kyo) as the capital of Japan, the 15-story, glass-plated gray monolith, designed by Hiroshi Hara, certainly has its critics.
Alex Kerr lambastedthe new Kyoto Station in his book Lost Japan as an eyesore and the reason he finally packed his bags and left the Kansai area.
Kyoto receives nearly 50 million tourists a year, 99% of them domestic, Japanese visitors on day-trips, and it certainly would seem a huge station is necessary to deal with them all and compared with Nagoya Station or Tokyo Station, Kyoto Eki does not have a packed, rushed feel due to its size.
Hara's ambitious design replaced an ugly 1950s concrete building, after the quaint, though aging Renaissance style structure, built in 1914 had burnt down in 1952. This in turn had superseded the original 1878 Meiji-era Kyoto Station.
The vast glass and steel atrium of Kyoto Station designed by Hara Hiroshi gives a feeling of space and calm.
Kyoto Station's stats are impressive - it comprises a huge 60 meter tall atrium, measures 470 meters from east to west, with a total floor space of 238,000 square meters. The Kyoto Station's building includes a department store, the Granvia Hotel, a theater, exhibition space, a museum as well as numerous shops and restaurants. The Sky Garden on the top 15th floor is a pleasant roof garden with incredible views of the city. Directly outside the station is Kyoto Tower, which is illuminated at night.
The Kyoto Eki Museum is on the 7th floor of Kyoto Station and is part of the Isetan Department Store. The Kyoto Eki museum regular puts on exhibitions of international art.
The main Kyoto Tourist Office (Kyo Navi; Tel 075 343 0548; 8.30am-7pm) is on the second floor of the station and has a vast amount of information on Kyoto and English- Korean- and Chinese-speaking staff who can help you find accommodation and provide advice for onward travel and upcoming events and festivals in Kyoto.
The area around Kyoto Station has a good number of economy hotels and cheap guesthouses and is a good area for a visitor to make a base for any visit to the city.
All Kyoto city buses radiate out from the station's bus terminal as well as the tourist specific Raku buses and there is a lot to see within easy walking or cycling distance of Kyoto Station itself. Some handy buses include the #5 which runs through Okazaki and up to Shugakuin, the #206 to Kitaoji Bus Terminal, the #9 to Daitokuji Temple, the #28 to Arashiyama and Daikakuji, the #33 to Katsura Rikyu and the #205 to Kinkakuji Temple.
The soaring glass roof of Kyoto Station at Daikaidan and the roof top Happy Terrace with views out over Kyoto city.
Kyoto Station is on the JR Tokaido Shinkansen route to Tokyo. Other JR lines radiating from Kyoto Station are the Nara Line south to Nara via Kizu and the San'in Main Line west to Shimonoseki through Fukui, Shimane and Yamaguchi Prefectures. The San'in Main Line also connects to Sonobe, Fukuchiyama and Kinosaki Onsen on its route west.
There are frequent Special Rapid Services to Osaka, Sannomiya Station in Kobe and Himeji. The JR Ocean Arrow runs from Kyoto Station to Shingu in Wakayama Prefecture stopping at Shin Osaka, Tennoji and Wakayama stations. Overnight services passing through Kyoto Station include the Kitaguni train to Niigata and the Twilight Express to Sapporo. Both trains originate in Osaka.
The Kintetsu Nara Line offers trains between Kyoto Station and Nara Kintetsu Station.
Higashi and Nishi Honganji Temples and Shosei-en Garden (Kikokutei) directly to the north, Sanjusangendo Temple and the National Museum to the east across the Kamo River, Toji Temple and its famous flea market to the south and the Umekoji Steam Locomotive Preservation Hall to the east. For old station buffs, Umekoji Steam Locomotive Preservation Hall just outside Umekoji Park preserves Nijo Station, the oldest wooden railway station in Japan, which was built in 1904 and replaced in 1996 by an equally fine modern building.
Kyoto Station building includes the Isetan Department store and the Porta Underground Shopping Center. There are also a number of restaurants, cafes, a juice bar and an Irish-style pub, Man in the Moon (at the Hachijoguchi Exit). Specialist shops and restaurants in the station building include the Fukujuen Japanese tea shop, the Cento Cento Italian restaurant, Kyoto Ramen Koji and the Cube restaurant. There are branches of both BIC Camera and Yodobashi Camera near Kyoto Station for cameras, computers, electronics and cellphones.
The main entrance to Kyoto Station and a highway bus ready to depart.
Trains at Kyoto Station: left the Ocean Arrow to Wakayama; right the Twilight Express to Sapporo.
The area around Kyoto Station both around the north Central and south Hachijoguchi exits has a number of hotels, many of them catering to tour parties for schools. Our recommended hotels near Kyoto Station include: the New Miyako Hotel and the Hotel Keihan Kyoto at the Hachijoguchi exit and the Kyoto Century Hotel and the Hotel Hokke Club near Kyoto Tower. The Rihga Royal Hotel is a short walk west towards Umekoji.
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