Kyoto’s Retro Trolley:The Keifuku Line

April 10, 2008

by Ikuyo Hayashi

Would you like to ride Kyoto’s retro trolley? And also avoid the heavy traffic in Kyoto’s tourist seasons of spring and fall? The Keifuku train is your best transport for visiting the western Kyoto area. It is, in fact, the only streetcar left in Kyoto, the city that built Japan’s first line, which began running in 1895 and grew into a broad network of electric trams that served passengers until 1971. Diesel buses replaced nearly all of the streetcars, but the Keifuku train still runs every 15 minutes from the center of Kyoto to the western area without delays. While riding the nostalgic Keifuku train to temples, shrines and other beautiful spots you can enjoy the calm scenery of daily life in Kyoto.

Lines

The Keifuku train has two lines: The Arashiyama line and the Kitano line. The main Arashiyama line runs between Shijo-Omiya Station and Arashiyama Station, and the Kitano line (a branch) starts farther north, from Kitano-Hakubaicho Station, and also heading westward, joins the main line in the middle at Katabiranotsuji Station, where you can get off and easily transfer.

How to get on the tram

Entry to the train is through the back door, and exit is via the front door just the same as with Kyoto’s city buses. The Keifuku charges a flat fare of 200 yen (100 yen for children.) You can also pay by kaisu-ken (a book of discount tickets). The four main stations (Arashiyama, Katabiranotsuji, Shijo-Omiya, Kitano-Hakubaicho) have ticket gates, so you pay the fare to the ticket examiner at the station, who gives you a ticket. The other stations do not have ticket examiners, so when you get off, drop the coins or kaisu-ken into the clear plastic receptacle on top of the machine right next to the front door of the tram. The machine can also give change for 100-yen and 500-yen coins or 1000-yen notes.

Tickets

Randen* 1-day round trip ticket (*the Keifuku train is also called “Randen”)
You can get on and off the Keifuku train anywhere for one day.
500 yen (250 yen for children)

Includes 26 discount tickets for temples and shrines along the Keifuku lines.
Kyoto Subway and Randen 1-day ticket
You can get on and off the Kyoto subway and Keifuku train for one day.
1000 yen (only for adults)

Kaisu-ken (the book of discount tickets)
2000 yen (1000 yen for children) for 11 tickets

All tickets are available at the four main stations of the Keifuku train: Arashiyama, Katabiranotsuji, Shijo-Omiya, and Kitano-Hakubaicho. A round-trip ticket is useful for saving money

Cherry blossom tunnel

Spring may be the best season to use the Keifuku train. It is worthwhile visiting many temples and shrines just to see beautiful cherry blossoms near the Keifuku train stations. The branch Kitano line in particular offers you beautiful scenery. Along its track is a fantastic stretch of cherry blossoms. This 200 meter-long “tunnel” is made up of 70 cherry trees, and it can be seen between Narutaki Station and Utano Station. At night, you can enjoy the lighted view of cherry showers from your seat on the train! The cherry tunnel is illuminated for a week (April 3-9 in the case of 2008). Remarkably, the train slows down and passes through the tunnel of blossoms at a speed three times slower than usual, and the driver turns off the lights inside the train so that you can indulge yourself in the unearthly beauty of the cherries. It’s part of the magic of Kyoto.

Timetable to See the Cherry Tunnel

From Katabiranotsuji Station to Kitano-Hakubaicho Station

6 pm

41

53

 

 

7 pm

05

17

29

41

8 pm

05

17

29

41

From Kitano-Hakubaicho to Katabiranotsuji Station

6 pm

36

48

 

 

7 pm

00

12

24

36

8 pm

00

12

24

36

                                                                                                                (in the case of 2008)

Ashi-yu: for your tired feet

A special treat for Keifuku passengers: You do not have to give up on experiencing the pleasure of an “onsen” hot spring because of your hesitation to be publicly naked! Keifuku’s Arashiyama Station has an ashi-yu spot at the platform. Ashi-yu (literal translation: ashi = foot + yu = hot water) can make your circulation better by letting you soak your tired feet in authentic hot spring water. This onsen gives you relief for neuralgia, muscular pain, and tiredness. Ten minutes of soaking is enough to get the effects of ashi-yu. It is open from 9 am until 8 pm (6 pm in wintertime). You can get a ticket, and a towel to wipe off your feet, for 150 yen at Arashiyama Station. Enjoy the onsen, and chatting with other tourists!

Where to visit

 

Arashiyama-line

Station

Destination

Arashiyama

Saga-Arashiyama JR Station

Arashiyama, Sagano

Rokuoin

Rokuoin Temple (2-min. walk)

Kurumazaki-jinja

Kurumazaki-jinja Shrine, Geino-jinja Shrine (by the station)

Uzumasa-Koryuji

Koryuji Temple (by the station)

The Toei Uzumasa Eigamura (Movie Studio) (5-min. walk)

Randen-Tenjingawa

Uzumasa-Tenjingawa subway station (by the station)

Sai

Saiin Hankyu Station (1-min. walk)

 

Shijo-Omiya

Nijo castle (15-min. walk)

Mibu Temple (5-min.walk)

Shinsen-en (15-min. walk)

Omiya Hankyu Station

Kitano-line

Station

Destination

Omuro-ninnaji

Ninnaji Temple (3-min.walk)

Myoshinji

Myoshinji Temple (3-min.walk)

Ryoanji

Ryoanji Temple (7-min.walk)

Tojiin

Toji-in Temple (5-min. walk)

Kitano-Hakubaicho

Hirano Shrine (7-min. walk)

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine (5-min.walk)