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. Unfortunately, it is not covered by the JR Pass.

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.

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.

Airplane

  • 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.