No trip to Japan is complete without a visit to Kyoto. For over a thousand years it was the nation’s capital, but today it is the country’s cultural and spiritual center. Here you can experience kabuki theater, geisha dancing, traditional tea ceremony, Zen meditation, and the local specialty Kyo-ryori cuisine. It is also Japan’s best preserved city, with many beautiful temples, shrines, palaces, and contemplative gardens.
Major tourist attractions include the Golden Pavilion of Kinkakuji Temple, Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, and the bamboo forest of Arashiyama. Fortunately Kyoto is really easy to reach from Kanazawa thanks to excellent train and bus links. In this article we will look at the best ways to travel between these two cities.
Traveling by Train
The Thunderbird Limited Express is a convenient and fast service that runs between Kanazawa and Osaka stopping at Fukui and Kyoto on the way. The Thunderbird makes frequent departures from Kanazawa Station every day, and takes just 2 hours and 13 minutes to reach Kyoto Station. The normal fare is 6,380 yen but this is fully covered if you have a Japan Rail Pass. The train has a very striking exterior appearance and the inside seating is spacious and comfortable too, so traveling on the Thunderbird itself is a very enjoyable and exciting part of any trip.
Traveling by Highway Bus
Both the JR and Hokutetsu bus companies have daily services to Osaka that stop in Kyoto on the way. JR buses depart from bus stop #5 at Kanazawa Station’s East Gate bus terminal. The departures and arrival times for JR buses are as follows:
Fares vary according to the date, time, and service but are usually between 3,650 and 4,800 yen. Ladies only seats can be selected on the night bus. You can look up fares and make bookings at Kousokubus.net or make inquiries directly at the Transport Information Center which is just outside the east exit of Kanazawa Station. For more details check out the West JR Bus Company English website.
Hokutetsu run two services from bus stop #2 at Kanazawa Station’s East Gate bus terminal. The first service departs at 7.25 and arrives at Kyoto Fukakusa at 11.04. The second service departs at 16.45 and arrives at Kyoto Fukakusa at 10.24. The fare is 4,100 yen for adults and 2,050 yen for children. The Hokutetsu bus service doesn’t stop by Kyoto Station but in the Fukakusa area of south Kyoto. However, the Fukakusa bus stop is a 7 minute walk from Fujinomori Station on the Keihan Line which goes into the town center. It is also a 14 minute walk from the bus stop to Takeda Station from which you can take a subway train to both Kyoto Station and the center of town. Unfortunately, Hokutetsu have very limited online information
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.