The Best Way to Travel from Tokyo to Kyoto

Tokyo and Kyoto are two of the most iconic cities in Japan, each offering unique experiences and a glimpse into Japanese culture and history. 

For visitors to Japan, getting from Tokyo to Kyoto may seem like a daunting task at first. But with the correct planning and knowledge, getting from one city to the other can be a breeze. 

This blog post will discuss the best way to get from Tokyo to Kyoto, covering all the available options.

We’ll explore the benefits and drawbacks of each so that you can make the most informed decision and plan your perfect Tokyo-Kyoto journey.

Overview of Tokyo to Kyoto Distance


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If you’re trying to figure out the best way to travel between the two, the answer is simple: Shinkansen or the bullet train.

The Shinkansen travels between Tokyo and Kyoto in just 2 hours and 15 minutes, making it the fastest way to make the journey.

And since the train goes directly from the city to the city, you don’t have to worry about changing trains.

In addition, the JR Pass (more on that later) also covers travel on the Shinkansen.

If you’re not in a hurry, there are other options available. The bus takes around 3 and 30 minutes, while the train (not including the Shinkansen) takes about 4 hours.

But if you want to get to Kyoto as quickly as possible, take the Shinkansen.

Transportation ModeTravel TimeCost
Shinkansen2 hours 15 minutesY13,080
Flight4.5 hours$40 and up
JR Tokaido Shinkansen140 minutes¥11,000 – ¥16,000
JR Night Bus7-8 hours¥3,000 – ¥5,000

Flight Options From Tokyo to Kyoto


You can get from Tokyo to Kyoto by plane in about 4.5 hours, including airport transfers.

You can take a flight from Narita Airport or Haneda Airport to Osaka, costing you around US$40 and up (one-way, plus transfer costs). 

Lastly, you can transfer to Tokyo from Haneda Airport or Narita Airport to the Shinkansen bullet train for Kyoto.

There are a few different flight options from Tokyo to Kyoto, but the Shinkansen is the easiest and smoothest way to travel.

The one-way ticket from Tokyo Station to Narita Airport will set you back ¥3,020, and the trip will take about 2 hours and 15 minutes.

The Shinkansen will cost Y13,080 for a one-way ticket, but it’s well worth it for its ease and comfort.

Train Travel From Tokyo to Kyoto


When traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto, the best way to make the journey is by train. The fastest option is the Shinkansen (bullet train), which takes 2 hours and 15 minutes and costs Y13,080.

If you have a Japan Rail Pass, you can take the Hikari Shinkansen, which will take 2 hours and 40 minutes.

Alternatively, you can take the JR Tokaido Shinkansen, which will take around 140 minutes and cost from ¥11000 – ¥16000. 

Bus Travel From Tokyo to Kyoto

You could take a JR night bus if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option.

Your journey will take around 7-8 hours (including stops and traffic) and cost 3,000 to 5,000 yen.

Of course, this will depend on the type of bus you take and the time you travel in. Several highways can take you to Kyoto from Tokyo, so it’s good to watch for deals!

Also, be aware that the highway buses have specific routes (not necessarily direct), so double-check your way before buying tickets.

Also, note that the highway buses usually don’t run late at night, so plan accordingly!

Costs of Transport From Tokyo to Kyoto

Costs of Transport From Tokyo to Kyoto

It’s worth noting that the cost of getting from Tokyo to Kyoto can vary significantly.

The price of a one-way Shinkansen ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto is usually between $110-$160, depending on the type of train you take and when you book.

This journey usually takes between 2 hours and 7 minutes to 14 minutes.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for something at a lower cost, there is an option for traveling to Kyoto by low-cost airline.

A one-way ticket typically costs around $42 but doesn’t include check-in luggage, so it’s better to book ahead.

Depending on your needs and priorities, you can decide which option is best for you in terms of time and money.

Tips for Traveling Between Tokyo and Kyoto

Tips for Traveling Between Tokyo and Kyoto

Traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto can be an exciting adventure, but there are a few things to remember.

Here are some tips to make your journey go smoothly:

Make sure you know the departure times for the Shinkansen, and check for discounts or promotions if you’re traveling with friends.

Plan and make hotel reservations or book tickets for evening shows in Kyoto before departing Tokyo.

If you’re on a tight budget, opt for the local rail network, which costs less but takes longer.

If you’re looking for sightseeing opportunities between Tokyo and Kyoto, consider taking scenic routes like through Nikko or Miyajima.

Lastly, remember to bring snacks! There’s nothing worse than being hungry on a long journey.

Scenic Value:

If you’re looking for the most scenic way from Tokyo to Kyoto, I suggest the bullet train or bus. The train is especially pleasing as it whizzes past mountains, forests, and rice paddies.

On a clear day, you can see Mount Fuji in the distance.

The bus is more interesting if you’re looking to take in many small towns, local shops, and restaurants along the way.

It’s a great way to get a “real” Japanese experience. And even then, some buses have panoramic windows, so you can still admire the view on board.

For those who prefer to fly, there are flights between Tokyo and Kyoto.

But keep in mind: the view from your seat will be limited due to heavy cloud cover, and you won’t get any glimpses of cultural highlights during your journey.

Luggage Considerations:

Whether you’re taking the train, plane, or bus from Tokyo to Kyoto, there are a few things to consider when packing your luggage.

First of all, be aware that trains have no dedicated luggage space.

Passengers can carry up to two pieces of luggage if they can fit them in the overhead racks or between their legs.

Be sure to look for a carriage with accessible seating so you don’t take someone else’s seat.

Double-check the airline and ticket restrictions before packing if you’re traveling by plane. You may have different limits on the size, weight, and number of carry-on bags.

Pack your trip light and happy travels!

Transportation Time:

Now that you know the options from Tokyo to Kyoto, let’s look at the time.

The quickest mode of transport is via Shinkansen (Bullet Train), which takes approximately 2hr 15min and includes one transfer.

Taking the plane is just a little behind, but it’s important to remember that it takes about 3 hrs of travel time and ground transportation.

The slowest and cheapest option is by bus; however, it still packs a punch with 7-8 hrs of total travel time.

If you don’t mind spending a bit more, you can go for the express bus, which will cut your travel time down significantly.

So if you want something faster than a bus but more affordable than a plane, the train might be your best bet!

Transportation Average Cost:

Trying to get your travel cost estimate? Depending on the transportation mode you choose, the cost may vary.

Flight: Flying between Tokyo and Kyoto will be the most expensive option. Prices can range from $200 to over $500 one way.

Train: Taking the train is where you’ll find the most bang for your buck. The JR Pass is excellent when traveling between Tokyo and Kyoto, while an IC card can come in handy once in Kyoto. Prices start at around $60 one way.

Bus: Taking a bus is the cheapest mode of transportation but also takes significantly longer than traveling by train or flight time-wise. Prices start at around $30 one way.

Overall, it depends on your budget and timeframe for the best option.

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