15/05/2020

Kyoto Station, More than Just a Station

Kyoto Station is more than just a station. The establishment has shopping centers, dining areas, and other things tourists might want to see. A single day might not be enough to roam Kyoto Station and its surrounding areas; here are a few things to maximize your travel experience.

Overview of Kyoto Station

When you say "train station," you might think of a place where trains stop to load or unload travelers and baggage. You might imagine a facility where you have to wait in long queues to buy tickets and then stay on the benches while anticipating your train ride. You might picture out a dull place made up of concrete and steel that is full of bored and impatient passengers. This impression of train stations will most certainly change once you come and visit the city of Kyoto in Japan.

Before experiencing the rich ancient traditions of the city of Kyoto, you will most certainly drop by the city’s main gateway - Kyoto Station. Dubbed by many tourists as one of the best train stations in the world, Kyoto Station is considered as one of the most massive architectures and the second-largest station building in Japan after Nagoya Station. This 15 story edifice was constructed for more than three and a half years and inaugurated its function in 1997 to accommodate millions of tourists and passengers visiting Kyoto every year.

※ Kyoto Station Kyoto Transportation Guide, "The History of Kyoto Station"

Upon arriving at the station, the first thing that tourists take notice of is the futuristic design of the complex that is mostly made up of a sculptural glass roof refracting the blue sky and Kyoto mountains and the sheathed glass doorway. This state-of-the-art building was designed by the award-winning architect Hiroshi Hara, a professor at Tokyo University. Aside from its ultramodern architecture, Kyoto Station also serves as a complete hub of entertainment, recreation, and tourist attraction because of all the available opportunities it has to offer to the visitors - from the scenic view of Kyoto to the vast array of shopping centers and food establishments. Now, that is certainly not an ordinary train station, isn't it?

Services to Expect in Kyoto Station

Kyoto Station Building Information

Navigating a massive building could be overwhelming, especially to first-timers. But don’t worry about it. The Kyoto Station Building Information will be your guide. If you have inquiries about the building, you can visit their booth, and its multilingual team will be more than willing to assist you. They also provide pamphlets that are in the English language to help you in locating facilities and going around the entire station.

Kyoto Tourist Information Center

If you are a tourist and in need of useful information on where to go, travel events and activities, bus and city maps, and hotel accommodations, the English speakers are always on hand at the Kyoto Tourist Information Center. Some staff members are multilingual and always at your service too. The center also provides free wifi in case you need to access the internet, and some computer terminals for convenient use of tourists are available for a small fee. With the Kyoto Station Building Information and the Kyoto Tourist Information Center, you will never be lost in this massive work of architecture.

Transportation Network

As a train station, the primary function of Kyoto Station is to provide transportation services for both locals and tourists in Kyoto. It serves four major train lines, the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen, the JR’s Zairai line, the metro, and Kintetsu Railway. The Kyoto Train Lines create a railway network that connects Kyoto to other parts of Japan. One leading example of this is the Tokaido Shinkansen, the world’s first high-speed commercial train line, an ultra-fast bullet train service in all of Japan, that will lead you from Kyoto to Tokyo, Tokyo to Shin-Osaka, Nagoya, Hakata, and other cities in Japan.

There are also a range of non-Shinkansen JR Lines, subway lines, bus network from, and taxis that will shuttle you in and out of the city of Kyoto.

Other Customer Services

Other essential services offered by Kyoto Station to the tourists are the Kyoto Prefectural International Center, Information and Lost-and-Found counters for the shinkansen, ATM and currency exchange counters everywhere and a central post office. They have luggage lockers in the basement of the station or carry services between stations too. Some facilities offer "takuhaibin" or delivery services to send your baggage to your hostel for a fee. There are also numerous recreational facilities, several other attractions like a theater, an art museum, and a vast selection of shopping options available in the station.

To-do List in Kyoto Station

Dining

You will never get hungry at Kyoto Station! A wide variety of international cuisines and of course, traditional Japanese delicacies are available all around the station. If you are craving for ramen noodles or just want to try something new to your palate, you can visit different food stores in the famous Cube Gourmet or Kyoto Ramen Street. There are also many snack bars, tea houses, and dessert cafes scattered in the entire station that will surely fill your tummies up.

Here are the other restaurants in and around Kyoto Station that is worth visiting:

  • Affordable food at Porta Dining
  • Elaborate Japanese cuisine at Kyoto Kitcho
  • Delicious tonkatsu at Katsukura
  • Freshly caught fish and shellfish at Shizen Sakana no Mise Ichishun
  • Fresh revolving Sushi or conveyer Belt Sushi at Sushi No Musashi 
  • Tasty hot pots sukiyaki at Moritaya
  • Traditional Kyoto dishes at Shozankaku MATSUYAMA JR
  • Seasonal vegetables and other dishes at Eijuan
  • Fresh fugu (blowfish) any time of the year at Kappo Chirori
  • Private room seating at Uguisu
  • Matcha (green tea) beer at Sosaku-cha Dining Iiemon

Shopping and Souvenir Hunting

Do you need to buy travel essentials or just vacation souvenirs? There’s no need to get leave Kyoto Station. There are large variety of shopping complexes inside and right outside the station, giving shoppers an endless array of clothing, souvenirs, food, and many more. Examples of these shopping centers are the 10-story Isetan Department Store, The Cube, and the Porta Underground large-scale shopping malls that are usually open until late at night and even during public holidays.

A friendly tip: When you go to Kyoto Station, don’t ever miss the chance to purchase local food available in those shopping centers such as famous loads of Japanese confectionery, pastries and delicacies, and matcha flavored snacks. Discover souvenirs like Japanese goods and crafts, limited edition Hello Kitty, stationaries, second-hand kimonos, and replica swords. There are also traditional local products like dolls, Japanese bag brands, stick incense, chopsticks, colorful hair accessories, fabrics and cosmetics, and the must-taste Japanese sake.

Sightseeing Spots

There are also free sightseeing spots around the station like the Skygarden and the Skyway (if you’re not afraid of heights) located at the topmost floors that will give you a great view of Kyoto. You can also unwind in the theater and museum inside the station or experience the Grand Stairway that lights up at night and is truly Instagram-worthy.

If you are done with all of these activities, you might find satisfaction in just roaming around the station and appreciating the beauty of its architecture. You can also travel to the surrounding of Kyoto Station and you will find many more interesting places:

Temples

  • Tofukuji Temple
  • Nishi Honganji Temple
  • Higashi Honganji Temple
  • To-ji, Kyo-o-gokoku-ji Temple
  • Rengeo-in Sanjusangen-do Temple

Museums

  • The Ryukoku Museum
  • The Costume Museum
  • Kyoto Railway Museum

Parks and Recreation

  • The Shosei-en Garden
  • Umekoji Park
  • The Kyoto Aquarium

Takeaway

Kyoto is not only a city of history, culture, and tradition. It has also been a standout of ultramodern technology and architecture. So, the next time you visit Japan, don’t forget to put in your itinerary to drop by and spend time at Kyoto Station. Because at Kyoto Station, you will have a train station experience like never before!

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