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Kyoto, Japan City Info
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Kyoto Osaka Tokyo




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Population: 2,644,331

Time Zone: The time is 13 hours ahead of EST time in New York City.  Daylight Saving Time is not observed.

 

Average Temperatures:

 

 Month  

   High

 Low

January  

   53F  

  40F

February

   53F

  40F

March  

   59F  

  45F

April  

   66F

  54F  

May  

   72F

  62F  

June  

   76F

  67F 

July  

   83F

  75F  

August  

   85F  

  77F

September  

   82F

  72F

October  

   73F

  63F

November  

   66F

  54F

December  

   58F

  45F

 

Local Seasons: Kyoto has a relatively mild climate with four distinct seasons. The average daily temperature, which varies from 42 F in the winter to 86 F in the summer, is 61.3 F. Average precipitation peaks during the rainy season, which is usually between late June and late July, and in September during typhoon season.

 

Holidays

January 1 - New Year's Day (Ganjitsu)

The second Monday in January - Adult's Day (Seijin-no hi)

February 11 - National Founding Day (Kenkoku Kinen-no hi)

March 20 or 21 - Vernal Equinox (Shunbun-no hi)

April 29 - Greenery Day (Midori-no hi)

May 3 - Constitution Memorial Day (Kenpou Kinenbi)

May 4 - National People's Day (Kokumin-no Kyuujitsu)

May 5 - Children's Day (Kodomo-no hi)

July 20 - Marine Day (Umi-no hi)

September 15 - Respect-for-the-Aged Day (Keirou-no hi)

September 23 or 24 - Autumnal Equinox (Shuubun-no hi)

The second Monday in October - Health/Sports Day (Taiiku-no hi)

November 3 - Culture Day (Bunka-no hi)

November 23 - Labor Thanksgiving Day (Kinrou Kansha-no hi)

December 23 - Emperor's Birthday (Tennou Tanjoubi)

 

Getting There

By Air

From Kansai Airport:   If you arrive in Japan at Kansai International Airport (KIX) outside Osaka, the JR Haruka Super Express train has direct service every 30 minutes to Kyoto Station; the trip takes approximately 75 minutes. A cheaper,  though less convenient, alternative is the JR Kanku Kaisoku, which departs every 30 minutes or so from Kansai Airport and arrives in Kyoto 100 to 120 minutes later with a change at Osaka Station.

If you have a lot of luggage, try the Airport Limousine Bus (tel. 075/682-4400) from Kansai Airport; buses depart every hour or less for the 105-minute trip to Kyoto Station.

 

By Train

Kyoto Station is like a city in itself with tourist offices, restaurants, a hotel, a department store, a shopping arcade, an art gallery, a theater, and stage events, and is connected to the rest of the city by subway and bus.

By Train from Elsewhere in Japan:   Kyoto is one of the major stops on the Shinkansen bullet train; trip time from Tokyo is 2 1/2 hours. Kyoto is only 20 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station in Osaka, but you may find it more convenient to take one of the local commuter lines that connect Kyoto directly with Osaka Station. When taking the bullet train, be prepared to enter and exit at a high rate of speed.  The train is truly efficient, and there is only a moment’s stop before it glides on at its rapid pace. 

From Kobe, you can reach Kyoto from Sannomiya and Motomachi stations.

 

By Bus from Tokyo -- Night buses depart from Tokyo every evening for Kyoto, arriving the next morning. Buses depart from Tokyo Station at both 10 and 10:50pm, arriving in Kyoto at 5:55am and 6:32am respectively, and from Shinjuku Station at 10:45, 11:10, and 11:50pm, arriving in Kyoto at 6:02, 6:32, and 7:12am. Day buses depart Tokyo and Shinjuku stations several times daily. Tickets can be purchased at any major JR station or a travel agency. Contact the Tourist Information Center (TIC) in Tokyo for more information.

 

By Cruise Ship

Large Cruise Ships dock at the Port of Kobe or the Port of Osaka.  There is excellent public transportation available at either site.

 

Getting Around

Orientation

Kyoto features a rectangular street system. Unlike the streets in other Japanese cities, most of central Kyoto's streets are named. The main streets running from east to west are numbered in ascending order from north to south, and are about 500 meters apart from each other, with several smaller streets in between. For example:  Shijo means "4th Avenue" and Nijo means "2nd Avenue".

Kyoto's city center with the highest concentration of dining, shopping and entertainment opportunities, is located around the junction of Shijo-dori (4th Avenue) and Kawaramachi-dori (Kawaramachi Street). JR Kyoto Station is located south of the city center at the top of Hachijo-dori (8th Avenue).

The most prominent north-south street is Karasuma-dori (Karasuma Street), which runs from Kyoto Station via the city center to Kyoto Imperial Palace. Another north-south axis is Kamo River, about one kilometer east of Karasuma-dori.

 

Bus

Few of Kyoto's tourist attractions are located close to subway or train stations. Instead, Kyoto has a dense bus network with direct bus lines from Kyoto Station and/or the city center around Shijo-dori (4th Avenue) and Kawaramachi-dori (Kawaramachi Street) to most major sights.

Kyoto is served by multiple bus companies. For getting around central Kyoto, the green Kyoto City Buses are most numerous and useful. The red buses by Kyoto Bus are second most prominent and convenient to access sights in more outlying areas of the city.

The tourist offices provide a superb English network map for the Kyoto City Buses, which makes it quite easy for foreign visitors to access tourist attractions by bus. Despite the good map and some English displays and announcements, however, getting off at the correct bus stop can still be stressful, especially in crowded buses.

Since buses are small and operate surprisingly infrequently even on some major routes, buses to major tourist sights can often get crowded, especially on weekends and during holidays. In addition, much time can be lost when buses get stuck or only proceed slowly in the busy street traffic.

Use subways and trains as much as possible, and use buses only for medium and short distances, for example, from the closest subway or train station to the destination.

Buses are entered through the back door and left through the front door. The fare has to be paid when leaving the bus. Inside much of central Kyoto, there is a flat rate per ride. Outside the flat fare zone, the fare increases with the distance..

 

Subway

There are two subway lines in Kyoto, the Karasuma Line which runs from south to north along Karasuma-dori (Karasuma Street) and stops at JR Kyoto Station, and the newer Tozai Line which runs from east to west and crosses the Karasuma Line at the intersection of Karasuma-dori and Oike-dori.

Japan Railways  (JR)

All JR lines including the Tokaido Shinkansen pass through or commence at JR Kyoto Station. JR trains are a good option for accessing the Arashiyama area (Sagano Line) and some attractions in southern Kyoto along the JR Nara Line, e.g. Fushimi Inari Shrine and Byodoin in Uji.

 

Hankyu Railways

Hankyu Railways connect Kyoto with Osaka. The line initially runs below Shijo Avenue from Kawaramachi westwards in direction of Osaka. It is a good option for accessing the area around Katsura Rikyu.

 

Keifuku Railways

Keifuku operates two tram like train lines in northwestern Kyoto. For train lovers, a ride on these trains is a small attraction by itself. The lines can be an option for accessing Arashiyama and the area around Ryoanji and Kinkakuji.

 

Keihan Railways

The Keihan Main Line runs next and parallel to Kamo River, but unfortunately does not connect to Kyoto Station. The line continues to Osaka and is an alternative to the JR Nara Line to access attractions in southern Kyoto.

 

Eizan Railways

The Eizan train lines commence where the Keihan Line ends, at Demachi Yanagi Station in northern Kyoto. Eizan Railways operates two lines, one to Kurama and one to the base of Hieizan.

 

Kintetsu Railways

Kintetsu offers good connections from Kyoto Station to Nara. Note that some trains on the Karasuma Subway Line continue to run on the Kintetsu Nara Line, and the other way around.

 

Taxis

Kyoto is probably the Japanese city with the highest concentration of taxis. Especially in the city center, taxis are found everywhere. Taxis can not only be a more comfortable, but also an economical alternative to buses on short to medium distances for groups of three or more people.

Most taxis accommodate up to four passengers (not including the driver), while larger vehicles are able to accommodate an additional fifth passenger.

Special Tickets

Kyoto Sightseeing Card (one day and two day)

Unlimited usage of Kyoto City Buses, Kyoto Buses and the two subway lines in the city of Kyoto. The 2-day pass can be used on two consecutive days. 

 

Kyoto City Bus One Day Card:  Unlimited use of Kyoto City buses in central Kyoto. The area of validity is smaller than that of the Kyoto Sightseeing Card, and doesn't include some of the city's more outlying districts, such as Arashiyama. 

Prepaid cards don't give discounts, but they make the process of taking trains and buses easier, as you do not need to buy a new ticket for each ride. Prepaid cards can be purchased at vending machines.

 

Surutto Kansai Card:  Surutto Kansai prepaid cards can be used on most trains and buses in the Kyoto/Osaka region with the exception of JR trains. The Surutto Kansai Card is also known under various different names, depending through which company you are purchasing it, e.g. Miyako Card (subway and city buses), K Card (Keihan) and Lagare Card (Hankyu). 

Taxis can be a worthwhile alternative when in doubt, and if time is a factor.

 

Neighborhoods (ku)

Around Kyoto Station: The southern ward of Shimogyo-ku, which stretches from Kyoto Station north to Shijo Dori Avenue, caters to tourists with its cluster of hotels and to commuters with its shops and restaurants. Kyoto Station, which was controversial when built because of its futuristic appearance, is now this area's top attraction with Isetan department store, a shopping arcade, restaurants, a cinema, a theater, an art gallery, and a rooftop plaza.

 

Central Kyoto:Nakagyo-ku, the central part of Kyoto west of the Kamo River and north of Shimogyo-ku, is the location of Kyoto's main shopping and nightlife districts, the major ones being on Kawaramachi and Shijo Dori avenues. In addition to its many shopping arcades, restaurants, and bars, Nakagyo-ku also has a number of exclusive ryokan  (Japanese style Inns) scattered through these neighborhoods that are typical of old Kyoto.   It is also home to Nijo Castle. Nakagyo-ku is one of the most desirable places to stay in terms of convenience and atmosphere.

 

Pontocho, a narrow lane that parallels the Kamo River's western bank just a stone's throw from the Kawaramachi-Shijo Dori intersection, is Kyoto's most famous street for nightlife. It's lined with bars and restaurants that boast outdoor verandas extending over the Kamo River in summer.

 

Eastern Kyoto:  East of the Kamo River, the wards of Higashiyama-ku and Sakyo-ku boast a number of the city's most famous temples and shrines, as well as restaurants specializing in Kyoto cuisine and Buddhist vegetarian dishes and shops selling local pottery and other crafts. Eastern Kyoto is a great area for walking and shopping, particularly Higashiyama-ku, and has several ryokan (Japanese style inns) as well

 

Northern Kyoto:  Included are the Kita-ku, Kamigyo-ku, and Ukyo-ku wards.   Northern Kyoto is primarily residential but contains a number of the area’s top attractions, including the Kyoto Imperial Palace, Kinkakuji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion), and Ryoanji Temple, site of Kyoto's most famous Zen rock garden.


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