How To Travel From Tokyo To Kyoto

Bullet Train at Sunset

Bullet Train at Sunset

With your Japan Rail Pass

  • Travel Time: Around 3 hours
  • Cost: Covered by your Japan Rail Pass

The cities of Tokyo and Kyoto are linked to each other by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line. A one-way trip from Tokyo Station to Kyoto Station on a Hikari or Kodama train costs 13,080 yen (unreserved seat) or 13,800 yen (reserved seat), but is completely free with a JR Pass.

Shinkansen or bullet train

  • Travel Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes
  • Cost: From 13,080 yen

The Nozomi trains on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line are the fastest trains that run between Tokyo and Kyoto. A one-way travel from Tokyo Station to Kyoto Station takes just 2 hours and 15 minutes, and costs the same as the two other slower trains. You can travel on this train using your Japan Rail Pass but you will need to pay a supplement fee.

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Green Class: Indulge in the enhanced comfort of the Green Car, where you can unwind in spacious seats with greater recline and additional legroom. This luxurious option also offers extra storage, personal reading lights, and complimentary refreshments. You’ll benefit from standard amenities found in Ordinary Cars as well, such as power outlets, coat hooks, and ample overhead storage. While this premium choice comes at a higher cost—typically 1.5 to 2 times the price of Ordinary Car tickets—the tranquility and comfort of a less crowded environment make it a worthwhile investment for a serene travel experience on the Shinkansen. Ordinary Car


Ordinary Class: This class offers a reliable and cozy travel option, popular among both locals and visitors. Ideal for group travel, these cars feature adaptable seating and tables perfect for family or friends. Enjoy access to conveniences like power outlets, overhead bins, and coat hooks. For those who appreciate flexibility, some Shinkansen trains provide non-reserved seating, though availability is on a first-come, first-served basis. Planning ahead is advisable as securing a seat upon boarding can sometimes be challenging.

Luggage: For travelers with substantial luggage, consider a delivery service for ease. Baggage with dimensions between 160cm and 250cm requires a reservation, which is included with your JR Pass. Smaller bags can be placed in overhead racks, space permitting.

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Local train

  • Travel Time: At least 8 hours
  • Cost: From 8,210 yen

Getting from Tokyo to Kyoto via local trains is a few thousand yen cheaper than taking the Shinkansen. However, it takes 8 or more hours, and requires 4 to 6 transfers along the way. Use Hyperdia  to help you plan your route.

Highway bus

  • Travel Time: Between 7 and 8 hours
  • Cost: From 3,200 yen

There are several bus companies that offer daytime and overnight bus services between Tokyo and Kyoto. A one-way travel is around 7 to 8 hours long, and costs at least 3,200 yen, depending on the seat type, season, and other factors. You can look up bus departure and arrival points, timetables, check ticket prices, and book seat reservations on the Willer Express and Japan Bus Online websites.
Romantic scenery of cherry blossom trees ( sakura namiki ) in Tokyo Midtown, Roppongi, with buses & cars on the street, high rise buildings at dusk & passengers on sidewalk promenade in Tokyo, Japan

If you plan to use highway buses multiple times on your trip, consider getting a Japan Bus Pass to save money. Offered by the Willer Express bus company, it gives you the opportunity to choose 3, 5, or 7 dates within a 2-month period to make use of their daytime and overnight buses. Only available to non-Japanese passport holders, it costs between 10,000 yen and 15,000 yen. More information is available on Willer Express’ Japan Bus Pass page.


  • Travel Time: Between 3 and 4 hours (flight + bus/train ride)
  • Cost: Usually around 10,000 yen to 23,000 yen

If you are flying from either Narita Airport or Haneda Airport in Tokyo, you can get to Kyoto by flying in to Itami Airport and Kansai Airport in Osaka, and then taking a 1 to 1.5 hour train/bus ride to central Kyoto.

Every day, various airline companies, such as Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Vanilla Air, Peach, and Starflyer, offer multiple flights between the two cities. A one-way trip is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes long, and a ticket can cost as low as 4,000 yen during promos and sales.

Airplane near the terminal in an airport at the sunset, Narita international airport

Is it preferable to fly or take the train from Kyoto to Tokyo?
For visitors to Japan, traveling by train is highly recommended over flying . Trains offer the convenience of easy boarding and disembarking at good locations, without the hassle of security screenings or immigration checks. Conversely, flying may involve lengthy security procedures that could extend over an hour, particularly during busy travel periods.



  • Travel Time: Between 7 and 8 hours
  • Cost: From 3,200 yen


Embarking on this road trip in Japan allows you flexibility with your travel, privacy of your own vehicle and the oppertunity to explore sights off the beaten track. However, it’s important to be aware of the costs associated with driving in Japan. The expense of fuel can range from approximately AUD85.78 to AUD128.66. Additionally, you’ll need to factor in rental car fees, highway tolls, and parking expenses, which together can cost between AUD107.22 and AUD160.83. Despite these costs, driving from Tokyo to Kyoto can be quicker than taking daytime buses or local trains, typically requiring about 6 to 7 hours, especially if you make use of convenient rest stops along the way. Before setting off on your journey, ensure you have all necessary items:

  • Driver’s licence
  • Credit card
  • Valid ID


So what is the best way to get from Tokyo to Kyoto?

Undoubtedly, the Shinkansen bullet train stands out as the premier choice for traveling between Tokyo and Kyoto. It offers superior amenities compared to other modes of transportation, ensuring a swift and comfortable journey to your destination. For added flexibility, consider traveling during off-peak hours to take advantage of non-reserved seating options, allowing you to choose any available seat.

Whether you plan on using your Japan Rail Pass for this journey, or just getting single train tickets, riding the bullet train to Kyoto is the best option for your trip in Japan.

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