Best Sight Seeings:

Friday, October 1, 2010

Kyoto "The Most Beautiful Cultural City Of Japan"

Kyoto was Japan's capital and the emperor's residence from 794 until 1868. It is now the country's seventh largest city with a population of 1.4 million people and a modern face.

Over the centuries, Kyoto was destroyed by many wars and fires, but due to its historic value, the city was dropped from the list of target cities for the atomic bomb and spared from air raids during World War II. Countless temples, shrines and other historically priceless structures survive in the city today.

V may be surprised by how much work they will have to do to see Kyoto's beautiful side. Most first impressions of the city will be of the urban sprawl of central Kyoto, around the ultra-modern glass-and-steel train station, which is itself an example of a city steeped in tradition colliding with the modern world.

Nonetheless, the persistent visitor will soon discover Kyoto's hidden beauty in the temples and parks which ring the city center, and find that the city has much more to offer than immediately meets the eye.

Nijo Castle

Nijo Castle has belonged to the city of Kyoto since 1939. The castle was built by Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1603. At the beginning of the Meiji era it was for a time the seat of government, and it was from here that the Emperor issued the rescript abolishing the Shogunate. From 1871 to 1884 it was occupied by the prefectural administration, and during this period many of the works of art contained were badly damaged.

The castle is surrounded by a moat and stone walls with corner towers. It is entered by the East Gate (Higashi Otemon) and an inner gate, Karamon, which has fine carving by Hidari Jingoro and decorated metalwork. This gate originally came from Fushimi Castle. Beyond it is still another gate, the Mikuruma-yose, also decorated by Hidari Jingoro, which gave access to the Ninomaru Palace. This consists of five separate buildings linked by corridors. The interiors are decorated with paintings by Kano Tanyu and his pupils. The principal apartment is the Jodan-no-ma (Hall of the Imperial Emissary); in the adjoining rooms, Ni-no-ma and Tozamurai-no-ma, are pictures of tigers. The linking corridors (like those in Chion-in) have floors, which creak when anyone walks on them, thus giving warning of the approach of a visitor.

The second building has three apartments and beyond this is the third complex, the large Audience Hall, surrounded by a gallery or ambulatory. On the sliding doors are large paintings of larches on a gold ground; the subsidiary rooms have elaborate carvings by Hidari Jingoro. The fourth building, the Kuro-shoin, has animal paintings by Kano Naonobu; in the Shogun's private apartments, beyond this, are paintings of mountain landscapes.

The garden to the west of the palace was originally designed without trees, since it was desired to avoid the impression of transitoriness created by their foliage. The trees, which it now contains, were planted in recent times.

Kyoto Imperial Palace

The original Kyoto Imperial Palace was built in 794 and was replaced several times after destruction by fire. The present building was constructed in 1855. Enthronement of a new emperor and other state ceremonies are still held there. The palace can be visited only on guided tours held by the Imperial Household Agency.

Nishiki Market

Nishiki Market is a narrow, shopping street, lined by more than one hundred shops. Various kinds of fresh and processed foods including many Kyoto specialties, such as pickles, Japanese sweets, dried food, sushi, and fresh seafood and vegetables are sold.

Known as "Kyoto's Kitchen", Nishiki Market has a history of several centuries, and many stores have been operated by the same families for generations.

The Ginkakuji Temple

The Ginkakuji (or Silver Pavilion) Temple lies in the northeast part of the city. In contrast to the Kinkakuji (or Golden Pavilion) Temple, this was never decorated with a covering of silver. It was built in 1482 by the eighth Ashikaga Shogun as a country residence. On his death it was converted into a Zen temple. It stands by a pool in which the two-story building is reflected. In its upper story it houses a gilded statue of Kannon. Behind it is the main hall with an important statue of Buddha. There is a tearoom adjacent.

There are two other rooms which are interesting. They are supposed to have been used as incense chambers. Just as Zen Buddhism created the Tea Ceremony and Ikebana, in order to discipline the senses of taste and sight, it also made arrangements for occasions when people came together and incense was burnt in order to develop and improve the sense of smell.

The Heian Shrine

The Heian Shrine, to the east of the city, was built in 1885 to mark the 1100th anniversary of the foundation of Kyoto. It was dedicated to the city's founder, Emperor Kammu (737-806), and to the last Emperor to reside there, Emperor Komei (1831-66).

The buildings are small-scale reproductions of the palace of the first Emperor. They are painted red and white, with blue roof tiles, and in this combination of colors the influence of China which is characteristic of the Heian period (794-1192) may be seen quite clearly.

The Shrine itself comprises two main halls, a state apartment, two towers and a large red-painted Torii made of reinforced concrete. A large landscaped garden extends behind the Shrine.


Gion is Kyoto's most famous geisha district, and one of the city's most popular attractions. The district lies in the city center around Shijo Avenue between Yasaka Shrine and the Kamo River, and is filled with ochaya (teahouses where geisha entertain), theaters, shops and restaurants.

Kyoto's other geisha districts are Pontocho, a narrow street across the Kamo River from Gion, and tightly packed with restaurants and bars; and the Kamishichiken district near Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, consisting of seven teahouses built using the extra materials from the shrine's last reconstruction.

Gion's main attraction are its traditional wooden machiya style merchant houses, built in a design characteristic of Kyoto. Due to the fact that property taxes were based upon street frontage, the houses were built with narrow facades only five to six meters wide, but extend up to twenty meters in from the street.

Kawai Memorial Hall
Kawai Memorial Hall displays the works of Kanjiro Kawai, a distinguished potter, with examples of folk art, ceramics and his kiln.

The Kiyomizu Temple

The Kiyomizu Temple, which like the Chion-in Temple, is in the east part of the city, is situated on a hill up which runs a road known as "Tea-pot lane" (good porcelain). The Temple was founded in 790 and is dedicated to the eleven-headed Kannon. (The statue of her is a protected monument.) The present buildings were erected after 1633 in the period of the third Tokugawa Shogun, Iemitsu. They stand mainly on a rocky outcrop above the Otowa Waterfall. The terrace of the main hall makes a particularly strong impression. It rests on 95ft (30m) tall pillars with five rows of cross-beams. It is used as a stage for temple dances and ceremonies, and from it there is a wonderful view over the city. There is a Japanese saying, which defines foolhardiness as jumping down from the terrace of Kiyomizu Temple.

Maruyama-koen Park

Maruyama-koen Park is well known for cherry blossom viewing, especially for the "Shidare Zakura"(drooping cherry tree), illuminated at night. The park is a favorite spot for locals and visitors to escape the bustle of the nearby city.


Sanjusangen-do, the "Temple of the 33 Niches", takes its name from the way it is built. Its façade is divided into 33 (sanjusan) niches (gen), to reflect the belief that Kannon, the goddess of compassion, could take on 33 different personifications.

The Temple was originally built in 1164. The present building was put up in 1266, after a fire. In days gone by archery competitions used to be held in the Temple grounds, as is still shown clearly by the holes in the pillars and timbers.

The most important work of art in the Temple is the "Kannon with a Thousand Hands". This statue, which is 10ft (3.30m) high, dates from the 13th C. On each side of it are 500 standing figures of Kannon. In the passage behind it there are further sculptures - 28 "celestial auxiliaries", spirits who are subordinate to Kannon.

The National Museum

The National Museum was established in 1897, with three departments (history, art and applied arts).

Costume Museum

The permanent display produces 3-D scenes from the 'Tale of Genji,' until now experienced only in writing or illustrations. Life-size mannequins in period dress with all the adornments, can be seen among period furnishings.

Kikokutei Shosei-en Garden

The garden borrows the scenery of the Higashiyama mountains. Such trees as plum trees, cherry trees, wisteria and maples add seasonal colors to the garden. The 17th C garden was laid out by Ishikawa Jozan and Kobori Enshu.

Nishi Honganji

The Nishi-Honganji Temple is the chief temple of the original Jodo-shinsu sect and an outstanding example of Buddhist architecture. Only part of this temple is freely open to the public: to see the other parts application must be made in advance to the temple offices.

The Hondo (Main Hall), rebuilt in 1760, has a number of fine rooms decorated with paintings on a gold ground by unknown artists of the Kano school and contains a statue of Amida by a master of the Kauga School. In the side-room are statues of Shotoku-taishi (573-621) and Ho-nen (1133-1212). The Daishi-do (Founder's Hall) has a much revered statue of Shinran, probably carved by himself in 1244. After his death it was covered with a coat of lacquer mingled with his ashes On either side are likenesses of later abbots. Above the entrance to the hall is an inscription in the hand of the Emperor Meiji consisting of two Chinese characters (ken-shin). In front of the Founder's Hall is a handsome gate, the Seimon. Another notable building is the Daishoin or Treasury, originally part of Fushimi Castle, to the south of the town, which was transferred to its present site in 1632 together with the richly carved gateway Kara-mon. The various rooms are named after the wall and ceiling paintings with which they are decorated (mostly of the Kano school). The Sparrow Room (Suzume-no-ma) was the work of Maruyama Ozui and Kano Ryokei. The (badly damaged) paintings in the Room of the Wild Geese (Gan-no-ma) are by Kano Ryokei. The Chrysanthemum Room (Kiku-no-ma) has flower pictures in gold and white by Kaiho Yusetsu (17th C) and works by Kano Hidenobu and Kano Koi. The Stork Room (Ko-no-ma), decorated by Kano Tanyu, Kano Ryokei and Maruyama Okyo, was the Abbott's audience chamber. The room known as Shimei-no-ma or Siro-shoin, with works by Kano Koi, Kaiho Yusetsu and Kano Ryotaku, came from Fushimi Castle.

Near by is the Kuro-Shoin hall, with sliding doors painted by Kano Eitku, and a No theater brought her from Fushimi Castle. Some distance away, in the SE corner of the temple enclosure, is the Hiun-kaku Pavilion (16th C), with paintings by Kano Tanyu, Tokuriki Zensetsu, Kano Eitoku, Kano Sanraku and Kano Motonobu; it contains Hideyoshi's tearoom.

Mount Hiei

Mount Hiei (2,782ft/ 848m), northeast of Kyoto, is an hour's bus ride from the city center, and can also be reached by rail (Keifuku-Eizen private line to Yase-yuen). From the Yase-yuen Station a cableway runs up to the summit in two stages. Near the upper station of the cableway, at Shimeigatake, are a viewpoint with a revolving tower (views of Kyoto and Lake Biwa), a natural history museum and a botanic garden.

Enryakuji Temple

The Enryakuji Temple was once one of the mightiest temples in Japan. Founded in 788, at the behest of the Emperor Kammu, by a Buddha priest named Saicho (762-822). The temple belonged to a family which had come to Japan from China, after Saicho's return from a stay in China. The site of the temple, lying northeast of the city, was selected in order to ward off evil spirits coming from that direction. The growing political influence of the increasingly numerous monks, however, soon presented a threat to Kyoto, and accordingly Oda Nobunaga felt it necessary to destroy the temple. Although it was rebuilt by Toyotomi Hideyoshi and enlarged by Tokugawa Iemitsu the temple never recovered any degree of secular power.

Shugaku-in Rikyu Imperial Villa

The villa was built in the 1650s for Emperor Go-Mizuno-o by the Tokugawa Shogunate. The grounds are divided into three large garden areas, each with a teahouse.

Daitoku-ji Temple

The Daitoku-ji Temple is one of the principal temples of the Rinzai sect. The temple, founded in 1324, was destroyed during the Civil Wars of the 15th C; the present structures date from the 16th and 17th C. Of the total of 22 buildings seven are open to the public. Of particular interest are the Zen gardens (dry gardens in kare sansui style).

The original main entrance to the temple precinct was the Chokushi-mon (now closed), originally the south gate of the Imperial Palace, which was moved here in 1640. Beyond this is the kara-mon, a Chinese-style gate with magnificent carvings; an outstanding example of the architecture of the Momoyama period, it came from the Fushimi Castle. The two-story main gate (Sammon) was built by Sen-no-Rikyu in 1589. The ceiling paintings on the lower floor were the work of Hasegawa Tohaku; on the upper floor are statues of Shakyamuni and the 16 Rakan (disciples of Buddha) - booty from the Kato Kiyomasa's Korean campaign - and a portrait (said to be a self-portrait) of Rikyu.

The main hall, the Butsuden (or Daiyu-den), built in 664, contains a statue of Shakyamuni with his disciples Anna and Kayo and a figure of Daito-kokushi, first Abbot of the temple. Beyond the main hall is the Lecture Hall or Hatto (1636), which is based on Chinese models, and to the northeast of this is the Hojo (Abbot's Lodging). This contains paintings by Kano Tanyu and a wooden tablet with an inscription ("Incomparable Temple of Zen") in the hand of the Emperor Godaigo. The adjoining garden was designed by Kobori Enshu.

The old Abbot's Lodging or Shinju-an (rebuilt 1638), once occupied by Ikkyu (1394-1481), can be seen only by prior arrangement. It contains a statue of Ikkyu and writings in his hand. The wall paintings are by Soga Dasoku (d. 1483). Here too are the tombs of sarugaku dancer Kan'ami (1333-84) and his son Zeami (1363-1443), who achieved a great reputation as a master of the No theater.

West of the Shinju-an is the Daisen-in, with a garden - probably laid out in 1513 to the design of the founder, Kogaku Soko (1465-1548) - which is rated an outstanding example of a Zen garden. The models for these gardens were provided by Chinese paintings. The garden was divided into four parts, and with only the most sparing use of plants, a mountain landscape with a waterfall was built up, mainly from rocks and sand, in a carefully contrived arrangement designed to produce an effect of space and depth. The sliding doors in the interior of the building have paintings by Kano Motonobu, Soami and Kano Yukinobu; particularly interesting are the scenes of country life (shikikosaku-zu).

In the Shuko-in, to the west of the Abbot's Lodging, is the tomb of Sen-no-Rikyu, and to the west of this again in the Soken-in, are the tombs of Oda Nobunaga and his sons and of Hideyoshi's widow. The west end of the temple precinct is occupied by the Koho-an, famous Zen garden designed by Kobori Enshu which contains the tombs of Enshu and his family.

Koryu-ji Temple

The Koryuji Temple or Uzumasa-dera was founded by Hata Kawakatsu in 622, but the present buildings are later. The Lecture Hall, the second oldest building (1165) in Kyoto, contains three old statues: in the center a seated figure of Buddha, flanked by figures of the Thousand-Handed Kannon and Fukukenjaku-Kannon. In the rear hall (Taishi-do, 1720) is a wooden statue of Shotoku-taishi, probably a self-portrait (606).

An octagonal hall, the Keigu-in or Hakkaku-do (1251), in the northwest part of the temple precinct, contains a statue of the 16 year old Shotoku-taishi and figures of Nyoirin-Kannon (presented by a king of Korea) and Amida. There is also some fine sculpture in the temple museum (Reiho-kan), including wooden statues of the Yakushi-nyorai (864) and Miroku-bosatsu (the oldest work of sculpture in Kyoto, dating from the 6th-7th C; said to be by Shotoku).

Ninna-ji Temple

The Ninnaji Temple, originally the Omuro Palace (begun in 886). After the abdication of the Emperor Uda (9th C) the palace became a temple of which Uda was the first Abbot. The present buildings date from the first half of the 17th C. To the right of the Middle Gate is a five-story pagoda 108ft/33m high. The main hall contains a wooden statue of Amida. The temple precinct with its numerous cherry trees is a magnificent sight in the cherry-blossom season (April).

Byodo-in Temple

The Byodoin Temple, a characteristic example of the temple architecture of the Heian period. The site was originally occupied by a country residence which belonged to Minamoto Toru, Fujiwara-no-Michinaga and Yorimichi. In 1052 Yorimichi made over the site for the building of a temple, and the main hall, Hoo-do (also known as the Phoenix Hall), was constructed in the following year. On the gable ends are two bronze phoenixes. The interior decoration (Heian period), much damaged, has been partly restored. The temple contains works by the 11th C artist Takuma Tamenari an imposing gilded figure of Amida (by Jocho, 11th C). The altar and ceiling are inlaid with bronze and mother-of-pearl, but of the ceiling paintings of the 25 Bosatsus little now survives. Adjoining is the Kannon-do, a hall situated directly above the river and accordingly also known as the Tsuridono ("Fishing Hall"). Close by is a monument to Minamoto Yorimasa (1104-80), who took his own life here after suffering defeat at the hands of the Taira clan; his tomb is in the Saisho-in, behind the Byodo-in.

Fushimi-Inari Shrine

Fushimi-Inari Shrine is much frequented by merchants and tradesmen who pray for prosperity. One of the greatest shrines in Japan, founded in 711, is dedicated to the goddess of rice-growing, Ukanomitama-no-mikoto. The main building (1499) is in typical Momoyama style. A notable feature is the 21/2 mi/ 4km long avenue of red torii presented by worshippers. Here, too, are many sculptures of foxes (which are reputed to be messengers of the gods).

Mampuku-ji Temple

The Mampukuji Temple, the principal temple of the Obaku sect was founded in 1661 by a Chinese priest, Ingen. The Main Hall (Daiyuho-den) is built of Thai teak. In the Lecture Hall (Hatto) which lies beyond it are preserved the 60,000 wooden blocks with which the complete edition of the Obaku Sutras was printed in the 17th C.

Katsura Rikyu Imperial Villa

The villa, Katsura Rikyu, was originally constructed for Prince Hachijo Toshihito (1579-1629), brother of the Emperor Goyozei. Much of it was built by 1624, and it was completed by 1658. The landscaped garden is said to have been designed by Kobori Enshu; and it was undoubtedly the work of either Kobori himself or some member of his circle. It is also believed that Prince Toshihito himself, a great art connoisseur, was involved in its planning. It is said that when Kobori accepted the commission he laid down three conditions designed to ensure that no changes were made in the original plan: first, no limit should be set to the cost of the work; second, no time limit for completion should be fixed; and third, neither the Prince nor anyone on his behalf should visit the site while work was in progress.

The garden is so designed that the visitor always sees things from the front. Around the pool are grouped a number of small gardens, and in the distance the summits of Mounts Arashiyama and Kameyama can be seen. The three parts of the building, offset from one another, have influenced modern architecture in Japan and even in other countries. The main buildings were thoroughly restored between 1974 and 1981.

The visitors' entrance is the Miyuki-mon Gates (1658). The garden paths, some of the river pebbles and others of rectangular cobbles, are edged by mosses and bushes. Two further gates lead into the inner garden, in the center of which is the group of buildings known as the Goten, consisting of three parts - Furu-shoin, Naka-shoin and Miyuki-den.

The veranda of the Furu-shoin was designed to permit observation of the moon. The three rooms of the Naka-shoin contain fine paintings by Kano Tanyu (first room, including a well-known picture of a crow), Kano Naonobu (second room) and Kano Yusunobu (third room). The Miyuki-den, the hall used by the Emperor, also contains a painting by Kano Tanyu. Notable too are the metal fittings (kugi-kakushi) in the form of flowers covering the heads of the nails used in construction; they are attributed t a goldsmith named Kacho.

To the east of the main group of buildings, on higher ground, is the Gepparo, a building of plain and simple design. On the far side of the pool is the Shokin-tei, which contains a number of rooms including a tearoom so designed that natural light reaches into every corner. A small promontory covered with pebbles projects into the pool, in a highly stylized representation of the coastal scenery of Ama-no-hashidate. In the southwest corner of the garden is the Shoiken, with ten rooms.

Daikaku-ji Temple

Established in 876 as a temple, it is located adjacent to the Ozawa pond. In the 1600s, Emperor Saga's imperial detached villa, Saga Palace, was taken apart and reassembled here. Noteworthy are the fusuma painted by Sanraku Kano with the flower motifs. Daikaku-ji is well known for its Heian era garden, it is among the oldest gardens in Kyoto. It is the home base for ikebana's Saga Goryu flower-arranging school.

Side Trips
Mount Koya (Koyasan)

Mount Koya (Koyasan) is the center of Shingon Buddhism, an important Buddhist sect which was introduced to Japan in 805 by Kobo Daishi (also known as Kukai), one of Japan's most significant religious figures. A small, secluded temple town has developed around the sect's headquarters that Kobo Daishi built on Koyasan's wooded mountaintop. It is also the site of Kobo Daishi's mausoleum and the start and end point of the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage.

Kobo Daishi began construction on the original Garan temple complex in 826 after wandering the country for years in search of a suitable place to center his religion. Since then over one hundred temples have sprung up along the streets of Koyasan. The most important among them are Kongobuji, the head temple of Shingon Buddhism, and Okunoin, the site of Kobo Daishi's mausoleum.

Koyasan is also one of the best places to experience an overnight stay at a temple lodging (shukubo) where you can get a taste of a monk's lifestyle, eating vegetarian monk's cuisine (shojin ryori) and attending the morning prayers. Around fifty temples offer this service to both pilgrims and visitors.


Himeji is most famous for its magnificent castle, Himeji Castle, widely considered to be Japan's most beautiful surviving feudal castle. The castle is designated both a national treasure and a UNESCO world heritage site.

With half a million inhabitants, Himeji is the second largest city of Hyogo Prefecture after Kobe. It can be reached in less than one hour from Osaka or Kyoto and is also a popular stopover on journeys along the Sanyo Shinkansen.


Kinosaki is located in northern Hyogo Prefecture on the coast of the Sea of Japan. This pleasant town, built along a willow lined river, is one of the top onsen destinations of the Kansai Region.

Hot springs were discovered in Kinosaki around the 8th century and since then the town has developed into a charmingly old-fashioned onsen town. In the evenings guests of the local ryokan stroll about town in yukata and geta (wooden clogs), visiting the numerous public baths and nostalgic game arcades.


Amanohashidate, roughly meaning "bridge in the heaven", is a 3.6 kilometer long, pine tree covered sand bar, spanning across Miyazu Bay on the Tango Peninsula, northern Kyoto Prefecture. It is ranked as one of Japan's three most scenic views (nihon sankei).

The sand bar is best viewed from the hills on either side of the bay, which are both accessible by chair lift or cablecar.

To view the sand bar as a "bridge in the heaven", turn your back towards the bay, bend over and look at it from between your legs. Travelers to Amanohashidate have been doing this for more than a millenium.

Iga Ueno

In 2004, Ueno City and five surrounding towns and villages were merged into a new city called Iga City. Iga is the name of the former province, which covered part of today's Mie Prefecture. Ueno is commonly referred to as Iga Ueno in order to avoid confusion with an identically named city district in Tokyo.

Iga Ueno is most famous for ninja. The Iga school of ninjutsu (art of stealth), based in Ueno City, used to be one of Japan's two leading ninja schools during the feudal era (the Koga school in Shiga Prefecture was the other). Today, Iga Ueno attracts visitors with its excellent ninja museum.

Iga Ueno is also known as the birthplace of one of Japan's greatest poets, Basho Matsuo, who lived during the early Edo Period. A memorial museum, his birth home and a former hermitage are some of Ueno's Basho related attractions.


Hanatoro, which means "flower and light road", is a set of illumination events that take place in the Higashiyama district of Kyoto in March and the Arashiyama district of Kyoto in December. During Hanatoro the streets are illuminated by thousands of lanterns set throughout popular areas combined with flower and light displays.

Many temples and shrines are illuminated and have special extended viewing hours. In addition, live and street performances are held at stages around the area. The pleasant and unique atmosphere of Hanatoro attracts many visitors who can stroll the streets and see a different side of Kyoto.

Kyoto Station is the center for transportation in the city. The second-largest in Japan, it houses a shopping mall, hotel, movie theater, Isetan department store, and several local government facilities all under one fifteen-story roof. The Tōkaidō Shinkansen Line (see below) as well as all conventional rail lines operated by JR West connect here.

The Keihan, Hankyu, Kintetsu, and other rail networks also offer frequent service to other cities in the Kansai region. JR West and Kintetsu connect at Kyoto Station. Hankyu has a terminal at the intersection of Shijō Kawaramachi, Kyoto's most thriving shopping and amusement district. Keihan has a station at Sanjō Keihan which is not far from Shijō Kawaramachi.

Subway Karasuma Line
The Karasuma Line is colored green, and its stations are given numbers following the letter K.

The line has following stations, from north to south: Kokusaikaikan (terminal) and Matsugasaki in Sakyō-ku; Kitayama and Kitaōji in Kita-ku; Kuramaguchi and Imadegawa in Kamigyō-ku; Marutamachi and Karasuma Oike in Nakagyō-ku; Shijō, Gojō and Kyōto in Shimogyō-ku; Kujō and Jūjō in Minami-ku; and Kuinabashi and Takeda (terminal) in Fushimi-ku.

Between Kitaōji and Jūjō, trains run beneath the north-south Karasuma Street (ja:烏丸通, Karasuma-dori?), hence the name. They link to the other subway line, the Tozai Line, at Karasuma Oike. They also connect to the JR lines at Kyoto Station and the Hankyu Kyoto Line running cross-town beneath Shijō Street at the intersection of Shijō Karasuma, Kyoto's central business district. At Shijō Karasuma, the subway station is named Shijō, whereas Hankyu's station is called Karasuma.

The Transportation Bureau and Kintetsu Corporation jointly operate through services, which continue to the Kintetsu Kyoto Line to Kintetsu Nara Station in Nara. The Karasuma Line and the Kintetsu Kyoto Line connect at Kyoto and Takeda. All the stations are located in the city proper.

Tozai Line
The Tōzai Line is coloured vermilion, and its stations are given numbers following the letter T. This line runs from the southeastern area of the city, then east to west (i.e. tōzai in Japanese) through the Kyoto downtown area where trains run beneath the three east-west streets: Sanjō Street (ja:三条通, Sanjō-dori?), Oike Street (ja:御池通, Oike-dori?) and Oshikōji Street (ja:押小路通, Oshikōji-dori?).

The line has following stations, from east to west: Rokujizō (terminal) in Uji; Ishida and Daigo in Fushimi-ku; Ono, Nagitsuji, Higashino, Yamashina and Misasagi in Yamashina-ku; Keage, Higashiyama and Sanjō Keihan in Higashiyama-ku; Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae, Karasuma Oike, Nijōjō-mae, Nijō and Nishiōji Oike in Nakagyō-ku; and Uzumasa Tenjingawa (terminal) in Ukyō-ku.

The Keihan Keishin Line has been integrated into this line, and thus Keihan provides through services from Hamaōtsu in the neighbouring city of Ōtsu, the capital of Shiga Prefecture.

The Tōzai Line connects to the Keihan lines at Rokujizō, Yamashina, Misasagi and Sanjō Keihan, to the JR lines at Nijō, Yamashina and Rokujizō, and to the Keifuku Electric Railroad at Uzumasa Tenjingawa. All the stations except Rokujizō are located in Kyoto.

High speed rail
The Tōkaidō Shinkansen operated by JR Central provides high-speed rail service linking Kyoto with Nagoya, Yokohama and Tokyo to the east of Kyoto and with nearby Osaka and points west on the San'yo Shinkansen, such as Kobe, Okayama, Hiroshima, Kitakyushu and Fukuoka. The trip from Tokyo takes about two hours and twenty-two minutes. From Hakata in Fukuoka, Nozomi takes you to Kyoto in just over three hours. All trains including Nozomi stop at Kyoto Station, serving as a gateway to not only Kyoto Prefecture but also northeast Osaka, south Shiga and north Nara.

Although Kyoto does not have its own airport, travelers can get to the city via Kansai International Airport and Itami Airport in Osaka Prefecture. The Haruka Express operated by JR West carries passengers from Kansai Airport to Kyoto Station in 73 minutes.

JR-WEST: Travel Information > Access to Kansai Airport

Osaka Airport Transport buses connect Itami Airport and Kyoto Station Hachijo Exit in an hour and cost 1,280 yen for a one-way trip. Some buses go further, make stops at major hotels and intersections in downtown, and get to Nijō Station or the Westin Miyako Hotel Kyoto near Keage Station of Municipal Subway Tozai Line.

Kyoto's municipal bus network is extensive. Private carriers also operate within the city. Many tourists join commuters on the public buses, or take tour buses. Kyoto's buses have announcements in English and electronic signs with stops written in the Latin alphabet.

Most city buses have a fixed fare. A one-day bus pass and a combined unlimited train and bus pass are also available. These are especially useful for visiting many different points of interest within Kyoto. The bus information center just outside the central station handles tickets and passes. The municipal transport company publishes a very useful leaflet called "Bus Navi." It contains a route map for the bus lines to most sights and fare information. This too is available at the information center in front of the main station.

Buses operating on routes within the city, the region, and the nation stop at Kyoto Station. In addition to Kyoto Station, bus transfer is available at the intersections of Shijō Kawaramachi and Sanjō Keihan. The intersection of Karasuma Kitaōji to the north of downtown has a major bus terminal serving passengers who take the Karasuma Line running beneath Karasuma Street, Kyoto's main north-south street.

Cycling forms a very important form of personal transportation in the city. The geography and scale of the city are such that the city may be easily navigated on a bicycle.

The city is connected with other part of Japan by the Meishin Expressway, which has two interchanges in the city: Kyoto Higashi (Kyoto East) in Yamashina-ku and Kyoto Minami (Kyoto South) in Fushimi-ku. The Kyoto Jūkan Expressway connects the city to northern regions of Kyoto Prefecture. The Daini Keihan Road is a new bypass (completed in 2010) to Osaka.

Unlike other metropolitan cities of Japan, Kyoto has poor network of intra-city expressways. As of 2010, only 8.2 km of the Hanshin Expressway Kyoto Route is in operation.

There are nine national highways in the city of Kyoto: Route 1, Route 8, Route 9, Route 24, Route 162, Route 171, Route 367, Route 477 and Route 478.

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