How to Get to Kyoto from Tokyo

Find the cheapest and fastest way to get to Kyoto from Tokyo!

Kyoto is one of the best tourist destinations in Japan, and from Tokyo to Kyoto is a part of Japan’s Golden Route.

However, there are too many transportation options to get to Kyoto from Tokyo, and it’s difficult to choose the best way for foreign travelers especially first-time visitors.

So, which way is the best: airplane, bullet train, normal train, and bus.

Let me get straight to the point, Shinkansen or bus is the best way for you to get from Tokyo to Kyoto. Shinkansen is the fastest and the bus is the cheapest way, and both are much easier.

Tokyo has two airports Narita Airport and Haneda Airport, but they may not be the best way for you since it costs a little money and time only to reach the airports from the center of Tokyo like Tokyo Station. Not a simple option.

Let’s compare Shinkansen with the bus and check out how to get from Tokyo to Kyoto!!

*Please note that this article contains affiliate links.

From Tokyo to Kyoto

Shinkansen: The Fastest Option

The fastest and most comfortable way to travel from Tokyo to Kyoto is undoubtedly the bullet train. It takes just over 2 hours with the Nozomi, the fastest model, and about 2.5 hours with slower models. The seats are spacious, and comfortable and have plugs to charge your electronic products, as well as toilets in different cars. It’s also possible to buy food and drinks during the trip.

The Shinkansen is probably in almost all respects the best way to travel between Tokyo and Kyoto. The only negative point is its price: about 16,000 JPY each way, so is not really budget-friendly.

If you decide to go by Shinkansen, you can take the train from Tokyo Station or Shinagawa Station. There are 3 major shinkansens whose names are Nozomi, Hikari, and Kodama to Kyoto Station. The fare of Nozomi with a reserved seat is around 17,000 JPY and a non-reserved seat is 16,000 JPY.

For the tickets, a vending machine and a ticket office (called “Midori-no-madoguchi”) are available. Some vending machines have an English menu. They are located next to ticket gates. For those with the JR Pass, you can just go to the platform and get on any of the trains in the non-reserved cars (usually 1-4). If you prefer to reserve a seat to be sure, you can do it in the same places where they are sold (vending machine or ticket office).

▶︎Book your Shinkansen ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto online

Japan Rail Pass

If you are a tourist in Japan there is a way to save some money and travel comfortably by Shinkansen. We are talking about the top-selling Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass), a must-pass for all travelers in Japan who want to visit more than only one city, that allows unlimited travel for 7,14, or 21 days on any JR transport, including bullet trains.

However, after the price increase in October 2024, the Japan Rail Pass is no longer cost-effective if you are only going to make a couple of trips. Check your route and see which is the most economical way for you.

▶︎Get your Japan Rail Pass online here!!

From Tokyo Station

First train: 6:00

Last train: 22:47

Location of ticket gates: blue areas on this map

Platform: platform №14–19

From Shinagawa Station

First train: 6:00

Last train: 22:54

Location of ticket gates: blue areas at the bottom of this map

Platform: platform №23&24


Bus: The Cheapest Option

On the other hand, the bus will take much longer (8 hours) but it’s cheaper. Tickets start at around 3,000 JPY for the cheapest ones and can go up to 12,000 JPY depending on the type of seat, departure time, conditions, etc.

As it’s a long trip, one of the most frequent options is the night bus. It allows you to sleep on the bus and be able to spend more time in Kyoto instead of wasting a day on the trip. In addition, at night there is less risk of traffic jams, etc.

▶︎Book bus tickets from Tokyo to Kyoto 

If you decide to go by bus, generally buses depart from Tokyo Station or Shinjuku Station. Different bus companies are offering this service, so it will depend on each company. One of the most recommended is Willerexpress. They have different types of buses available but even the most economical ones have large and comfortable seats.

Tickets can be purchased in person at the office of each bus terminal, but we recommend buying them in advance because depending on which dates they may sell out.

From Tokyo Station

Tokyo station bus terminal is located in Yaesu Exit (八重洲口.) Long-distance bus tickets can be purchased at JR Expressway Bus at the bus terminal in Tokyo Station Yaesu Exit or online.

From Shinjuku Station

JR Shinjuku Station is connected to BUSTA, the biggest bus terminal in Tokyo. Ticket counters and ticket vending machines are located on the 4th floor, which is the departure floor. The fare from Shinjuku BUSTA is the same as that from Tokyo Station.

For more info:

▶︎How to Ride a Bus in Japan: A Detailed Bus Guide for Tourists

▶︎How to Book Bus Tickets in Japan

▶︎3 Best Highway Buses in Japan

▶︎10 Best Destinations to Go from Tokyo by Bus

▶︎How to Ride a Night Bus in Japan


As you can see, the Shinkansen is much faster but buses are the better option for budget. The price may vary depending on the class of seats. An overnight bus may be the better choice for those who wish to save on accommodation expenses. To sleep comfortably, a superior seat is recommended. Another advantage of buses is the time of the last bus: about 1 hour later than the train’s one.

So, it depends on which you value, time or money during the trip.

▽Transportation Guide for Other Popular Destinations▽

▶︎How to Get to Osaka from Tokyo

▶︎How to Get to Hakone from Tokyo

▶︎How to Get to Nikko from Tokyo

▶︎How to Get to Mt.Fuji from Tokyo

▶︎How to Get to Hiroshima from Tokyo

▶︎How to Get Disneyland and Disney Sea from Tokyo

Also how to get to Tokyo from the two main airports, Narita Airport and Haneda Airport.

▶︎How to Get from Narita Airport to Tokyo

▶︎How to Get from Haneda Airport to Tokyo

If is your first time in Japan and don’t know where to go, this article may help! ▶︎Guide to Trains in Japan: Including Shinkansen and Japan Rail Pass

▽For more Shinkansen Information▽

▶︎A Guide to Japan Rail Pass

▶︎The Ultimate Guide for Transportation in Tokyo

▶︎How to Move Around Kyoto

What Should You Do in Kyoto??

Kyoto, the second capital of Japan, has lots of historical sites and nature-rich spots for sightseeing. As for a history trip, you can’t miss Kinkakuji Temple, Kiyomizudera Temple, and Fushimi Inari Shirine. In the Gion area, you can enjoy Geisha performances and drinking at night!!

▼Make your perfect itinerary for 1 or 3 days in Kyoto with this article▼

▽First time in Japan??? Check out this 1 week itinerary for first-timers!▽

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I'm writing by my motto: helping travelers spend their limited time experiencing something priceless in Japan. My articles won't let you down! Living in Tokyo and traveling many popular and hidden sites all over Japan, I deliver well-selected and latest tourist information to you from the perspective of “100% Japanese local”. My specific interests are island hopping, eating countless bowls of ramen, watching anime and reading manga. Enjoy Japan Web Magazine for recommended food spots, hidden gems Japanese Otaku (geek) culture, and everything about Japan :)