Trains (contain Subways)
Trains in Japan are among the best in the world. They are fast, clean, comfortable and impressively punctual. There are several different types of trains. Local trains stop at every station along its route, while express trains will only stop at larger stations. Super express trains, usually meant for travel to the next city, only stop at limited stations. Buying tickets may seem complicated and intimidating, but is actually quite simple. Above the ticket is a large map of the railway system, with Romanized pronunciations of all stations, along with their fares. Insert your money and press the Yen amount. A good tip if you are not sure how much to pay, is putting in the lowest fare, and inserting the remainder at the fare adjustment booth when arriving at your desired station. Fare adjustment booths are near the exit ticket gates.
Within Kyoto, besides the JR (Japan Rail) Line, there are many other lines that run through the city. The subway lines, Kintetsu, Keihan, Hankyu, Keifuku, Eizan and Kyotsu line. Most are made easy to transfer lines within the station.
JR (Japan Railway)
The centralized Kyoto station, where the JR Shinkansen stops, has several local train lines that run through it.
The subway operates from 5:30 am to 11:30pm. Stations are numbered, and the names of the station and the station numbers are always announced in English. The station names are written in Japanese along with the Romanized pronunciation. The previous and next station names are also shown. Not all train companies show station numbers, but other than that, they are the same.
There are 2 subway lines the Tozai and karasuma line.
Kyoto station, being the passageway into and out of the city is one of the Shinkansen stops. The Karasuma line runs through Kyoto station and conveniently connects to downtown Shijo Karasuma. The northern most stop is Kokusaikaikan station. Southbound on the Karasuma line goes to Takeda station which changes to the kintetsu line if you stay on the train it will take you into the south part of Kyoto.
The Tozai line is currently under construction, but is scheduled to extend to the popular tourist spot Arashi-yama. Presently, it runs to the tourist attracting Nijo station. From there, you can transfer to the JR Sanin line. Eastbound on the Tozai line takes you past Yamashina station the eastern edge of Kyoto then curves south east to the final stop, Rokujizo station. Along the way to Rokujizo station, you can see temples such as Daigoji there. At Yamashina station, you can transfer onto the Tokaido honsen line, and at rokujizo station, you can transfer onto the JR Nara line or Keihan Uji Line.
The Keihan train has several different lines. In Kyoto, there is the Keihan main line, and the Keihan Uji Line. The Keihan main line runs north south. From the Northern last stop, Demachiyanagi station, you can transfer to the Eizan Line. The southern last station stops in central Osaka. You can also make transfers to the Subway Tozai line and Kyotsu line at Sanjo station, the Hankyu line at Shijo station, the JR Line at Tofukuji station and Kintetsu line at tanbabashi station. The tourist spot Uji station is accessible by transferring to the Keihan uji line at Chushojima station from the Keihan main line. It is also possible to transfer to the Tozai subway line and JR Nara line from Rokujizo station, which is along the way. From there, the JR Nara line and the Keihan Uji line run parallel to each other so the stations are close by and transferring is much easier.
The Hankyu line also has several lines running through 3 different prefectures, Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe. In Kyoto there is the Hankyu Kyoto line and the Hankyu Arashi-yama line. The Hankyu Kyoto line runs from central downtown Kawaramachi through the Southwestern part of Kyoto finally stopping at Osaka. You can transfer to the Keifuku train at Omiya station, and the katsura line from Hankyu Katsura station. The Katsura line runs to the popular tourist spot Arashi-yama.
the Keifuku train also has 2 lines. One is the Arashiyama Honsen and you can transfer at Hankyu Omiya station to get to Arashi-yama. The other is the Kitano Line. It runs from Katabira no Tsuji Station, which is along the way of the Arashi-yama line, to Kitano Hakubai-cho Station. From Kitano Hakubai-cho station, you can walk to Kitano tenmangu, which is a very famous tourist attraction especially during the Plum season. Along the Kitano Line there are many famous tourist spots such as Kinkaku-ji and Ryoan-ji.
Runs from the Keihan main line's last stop, Demachiyanagi to northern Kyoto. The Eizan train also has 2 different lines, the Eizan line and the Kurama line. Each line alternates departures from Demachiyanagi station. You can transfer to the Hieizan Cable car from the Eizan line's last stop Yase Hieizanguchi station.
The kyotsu line is accessible from transferring at Keihan Sanjo station. There are several common stations that share the same tracks as the Kyoto city Tozai subway line. You can get on the subway, and Kyotsu line from Sanjo station. If you are heading West, the last stop for both lines is Nijo station. Alternatively, if you are heading East, you must be careful, for the train cars split at Yamashina station and the Kyotsu line cars will go to Otsu toward Shiga Prefecture, and the Kyoto City Tozai subway cars will run to Rokijizo. You can also transfer to the JR tokaido Honsen from Yamashina staion.
The Kintestu line runs from Kyoto station, where the shinkansen stops, through Southern Kyoto and finally into Nara Prefecture. There are tracks that share the same route with the Kyoto city subway line so you can transfer while on the same train. You can also transfer to the Keihan Line from Tanbabashi station.