If you have just landed on Japan, or are traveling from another city or prefecture towards Sakura House Kyoto Imadegawa, you will certainly be stopping at Kyoto Station.
Designed by architect Hara Hiroshi, the building comprising the station certainly stands out from the image most traveler may have of Japan’s old capital. An exposed steel beamed roof, large stairways, an 11 floor shopping mall (with 2 additional floors underground) and 4 different restaurants and shops arcades, this station has everything from beauty to convenience and even more.
Whether you are continuously stopping by the station with your JR Pass in discovery of the Kansai area, or you just arrived and noticed you didn’t bring your power adapter, or maybe find that the weather didn’t turn out to be adequate for the clothes you brought in your suitcase, Kyoto Station shall have everything to help you. So here are our tips on things to do while waiting for your train or bus to depart, or while you are just walking around in awe.
Skyway observation deck
Ramen from all over Japan at Kyoto Ramen Alley“Ramen Alley” (Kyoto Ramen Koji). This “alley” offers 9 different ramen shops offering the original taste of the most renown areas in Japan. From the freshness of Sapporo in the northern island of Hokkaido to the distinctive flavor of Hakata in the southern city of Fukuoka, this is an excellent chance to stop for a fulfilling meal, and why not stop again another time and try the flavors of other areas.
Isetan Shopping Mall
Walking out of the “Ramen Alley” is the “Promotional Hall” where special events and fairs are held. Some of the most popular are the “Hokkaido Fair”, “Okinawa Fair” and the “Chocolate Fair” all offering an extensive variety of culinary goods. Being able to try some samples, this is certainly a good chance to continue tasting the marvels that other areas in Japan also have to offer. Stay up to date to what is going on during your stay in Kyoto here.
Additionally, constructed just outside of this Shopping Mall are a large set of stairs that face the station’s stage, holding some live events throughout the year. This is also a nice area to stop for a rest just by sitting on the stairs.
Planning What to See and DoRight beside the shopping mall entrance on the 2nd floor is the stations’ Tourist Information Center, with multilingual staff and a description of all the events that are currently going on. Other convenient things to grab here are city maps, special public transport tickets and valuable advice. This is a must stop if it is your first time in Kyoto.
In addition to the already mentioned areas, shopping arcades are available in and around the station. To the south, towards the “Hachijo entrance” is the Asty Road and Miyakomichi both offering a relaxing ambiance and an overwhelming variety of goods from souvenirs, books & magazines, snacks and more.
To the north, towards the “Karasuma entrance” facing the Kyoto Tower and right under the Bus Terminal is “The Cube” and “Porta”. Here, as amazing as it may sound, a larger variety of shops offer everything from clothing to food, imported goods and 100 yen products. Right outside and just a few minutes’ walk are 2 of the biggest electronics stores in the city, Yodobashi Camera and Bic Camera. These large multi-story buildings are the place you want to go to upgrade your camera for some fresh new photos, getting a selfie stick or purchasing the power adapter you unfortunately forgot to pack in your luggage.
A particularly convenient aspect of Kyoto Station is that it allows you to go straight into sightseeing some of its surrounding landmarks and get some pictures to send back home to friends and family right on day 1. The reason this is possible is that the station offers quite a large range of coin lockers for all size of luggage. Fees vary regarding size, but most of them offer a flat rate until midnight, giving you enough time to look around free of having to carry anything heavy while doing so.
Between this temple and Kyoto Station is the eye catching Kyoto Tower. The tower offers, not only a great 360 degree view of the city (at an even taller height than the “Skyway” previously mentioned), but also a terrace restaurant, a beer garden, a public bathhouse and a tourist information center. Fees apply to access the observation deck, but it is a nice experience to at least have once.
Further south and slightly west of Kyoto Station is the Toji Temple. This is part of the many UNESCO World Heritage sites in the city, and the beauty of its garden is well enjoyed all over the year but stands out during spring. This temple is particularly famous with travelers visiting Kyoto on the 21st of each month, since it is the date when one of the biggest flee markets take place on the temple grounds. This is the time to find some unique goods and barter for that special souvenir. Additionally, the temple offers access to its treasure hall during certain days throughout the year, allowing to get a glimpse of history at first sight.
Traveling out from Kyoto, near or farOne of the most commonly used train lines both when coming to and departing from Kyoto Station is the Shinkansen (bullet train). This train does not just provide a speedy access into the neighboring cities, but also allows for a prompt arrival at many prefectures all over Japan in just a mater of a few hours.
In addition to the bullet train, the main Kyoto train lines depart or run through Kyoto Station. The most highlighted in convenience is the Subway Karasuma Line running right beneath Kyoto Station. This subway line runs from north to south right in the middle of the city, and is our recommended option to reach Sakura House Kyoto Imadegawa ince its operating hours fit almost any travel schedule (roughly from 5:30 a.m. until shortly past midnight).
Besides this subway, other lines include the Tokaido Shinkansen (offering alternative quick access to Osaka), JR Nara Line (with stations in Nara, Uji and Inari) and the JR Sagano Line (stopping at Arashiyama and its bamboo forest) amongst others.