Moving around Kyoto
Kyoto is not such a large city (mainly compared to Tokyo or Osaka), and quite a lot can be visited on foot. But you will need to use other means of transportation from time to time. The city was build 1,300 years ago, following the very orderly city plan of the Chinese city of Xian where streets intercept at right angle. The grid pattern of Kyoto streets makes it an easy city in which to roam. There are a few main streets running East to West, and a few running North to South.
As a tourist, you’ll spend most of your time on the East part of the city, the Higashiyama district, where a lot of the tourist sites are located. Then, you’ll go on the West part in the North to see the amazing Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji) and a few temples around, and the South to enjoy the Arashiyama area and the beautiful bamboo grove. There are also a few places in the center of the city and around the South.
The public transportation system of Kyoto offers numerous possibilities, but unfortunately, it is not one unified system. There are buses, trains, subways around, but from different companies and unfortunately, they do not always work seamlessly together.
Here is a convenient web site to find information on how to reach places around Kyoto and to search for bus and rail routes in the city, including the city bus and subway. Arukumachi KYOTO Route Planner “Bus and Train Veteran”
You will find more information on how to move around the city on the excellent Kyoto City Web.
Kyoto bus network is quite convenient and certainly the cheapest way to move around the city. Indeed, for a mere yen 500 you can get a daily pass that will enable you unlimited rides in all city buses.
All our machiya are located near convenient bus stops. Check the house manual of the machiya you’ve reserved for more detail about where the bus stops are located and which bus to take to go to each touristic site.
To download a complete map of the various bus route, just click the map on the left.
The city has created a nicely done web site to find your way around easily. Just click the departuere point and click the destination. And it’s in English ! check it out HERE.
Our machiya are mainly located near the Keihan Railway Line, near Kiyomizu-Gojo Station and Shichijo Station. YOu can use this line to quickly and easily go to visit the famous Fushimi Inari taisha Shrine (Inari station).
Our Toji Machiya is located a couple of min away foom the Toji Station on Kintetsu line. This station is one stop from Kyoto station. On the other side, it goes to Osaka.
You may also use the JR Sagano line (from Kyoto Station) to go to Arashiyama.
The Kyoto Subway Line consists of the inner city south-north “Karasuma” Line and the east-west “Tozai” Line. The two lines intersect at “Karasuma Oike” Station where it is possible to transfer lines.
Again, refer to the Kyoto City Web for more information. And again, here is a convenient web site to find information on how to reach places around Kyoto and to search for bus and rail routes in the city, including the city bus and subway. Arukumachi KYOTO Route Planner “Bus and Train Veteran”
Kyoto is probably one of the easiest city in the world in which to take a taxi. YOu can find a taxi just about everywhere, outside most train stations, bus terminals and some larger shops. You can also flag taxis on just about any street in the city. As up to four persons (sometimes five in larger cars) can ride for the same price, it is sometimes a better deal to take a taxi compared to the bus or the train.
To take a taxi, just flag it as you would at home: just raise your hand at an oncoming taxi. To know if a taxi is available, check if you see someone inside on the back seat. Also, if a taxi is free and available, the sign (light) on the lower left corner of the windshield will be red. The same will be blue if the taxi is not available. At night, it’s easy to spot an open taxi: the light on the roof will be illuminated.
Be careful as in Japan, the driver will open the door for you the rear one on the left of the car). There is no need to open it yourself. Do not worry as most drivers in Kyoto know enough English to understand where you want to go, but it always helps to have someone write your destination in Japanese. If you’re returning to your Machiya, just hand the driver the text we provided you with.
Japanese taxi drivers are polite, usually efficient and above all honest. They will always turn on the meter and you do not have to worry about “being taken for a ride.” The meter will show the fare. No need of tips.
if you want to reserve a taxi for a special visit or anything else, here are two companies we often use (and recommend).
Yasaka Taxi: Yasaka Taxi Web Site
MK Taxi: MK Taxi Web Site
There are many ways to move around Kyoto, but depending on the season, the one we enjoy the most is riding a bicycle — it is probably the best way to move around the city and it is often faster than by car or bus. Indeed, Kyoto is largely flat, roads are good, drivers are careful and there are plenty of places to rent a bicycle. If you enjoy cycling we strongly recommend that you consider renting a bicycle for your time in Kyoto. It will allow you to see a lot of attractions in a limited time.
There are numerous bicycle renting shops around the city and you can find one not far from your house. You’ll find specific info in your house manual. A place we heard good things about (but have not actually used ourselves) is J-Cycle.
We also have heard good things about the Kyoto Cycling Tour Project — check them out at : http://www.kctp.net/en/
Be sure to read about the specifics of riding a bicycle in Kyoto because there are a few points to be aware and careful about (parking, restriction, etc.) Be particularly careful about parking your bicycle as the city has very little tolerance about this!