Kyoto Station, which lies on the Tokaido Shinkansen line, is a convenient gateway to Kyoto's sightseeing spots, as well as other major cities in Japan.
The station itself is a thoroughly modern structure, with extensive shopping and dining concourses including an entire floor dedicated to ramen eateries, and an Isetan Department Store.
Kyoto Station also houses a theater and a branch of the upmarket Hotel Granvia. Just outside the Central Exit is the iconic Kyoto Tower, which at over 130 meters can be seen from across the city.
From Tokyo Station , it takes approximately two hours and 20 minutes on the fastest shinkansen bullet train to reach Kyoto. If you are travelling from Haneda Airport or Narita Airport , it will take another 20 minutes or one hour respectively.
From Kansai International Airport, the Haruka Express whisks you into Kyoto Station in approximately one hour and 15 minutes.
Kyoto Station also lies on the Karasuma subway line which runs through central Kyoto.
The futuristic station was completed on the 1,200th anniversary of Kyoto's founding
Kyoto is home to about 1.5 million residents but around 50 million tourists visit Kyoto every year
It's Japan's second largest train station building after Nagoya Station
The area around the station is more modern and urbanized compared to other areas of Kyoto, yet within 15 minutes you can be transported back in time by some of the city's outstanding historical sites, including the two UNESCO World Heritage sites of Toji and Higashi Honganji temples.
Venture west of Kyoto Station and you will encounter Toji Temple, built in 796, soon after Kyoto's founding, It is the only remaining of the three temples that were allowed to be built in Kyoto at that time. There is an excellent flea market on the 21st of each month held in its large grounds. The five-story pagoda of Toji Temple is, for many, like Kyoto Tower, one of the most memorable things you can see from Kyoto Station.
If you depart eastwards from Kyoto Station, the monumental Higashi Honganji is impossible to miss.
Continuing along Shichijo Street across the Kamo River is Kyoto National Museum , a distinctive Meiji era (1868-1912) building housing countless examples of Japanese fine arts and crafts. A new wing was completed in 2014. Special exhibitions here can draw very large crowds and visits during these times require planning ahead.
Sanjusangendo , formally known as Rengeoin Temple, is located right across the street from Kyoto National Museum . The temple is named after the structure of its main hall, the 33 bays of which are home to an astounding 1,001 statues of the Goddess of Mercy and accompanying deities. Hundreds of kimono and hakama-clad young ladies compete in the popular Toshiya Archery Festival every January, which takes place outside the building.
Other venues near Kyoto Station that make good options especially on a rainy day include the Kyoto Costume Museum, where you can dress up as a Heian-period courtier; the Kyoto Railway Museum ; and the Ryukoku Museum, host to a walk-through digital recreation of a Silk Road cave.
Traveling with kids? Umekoji Park and the Kyoto Aquarium also can be found a short distance away.
Day trips from Kyoto Station include Nara, Osaka, Kobe and neighboring Shiga Prefecture. Provided you start early, day excursions further afield to Hiroshima , to the south, or Kanazawa , to the north, are also feasible. Don't forget to pick up a tasty eki-ben lunch box before embarking on your journey.