Does Kyoto Need a Tram System?

November 24, 2019

November 22, 2018

by Fumiya TAMAOKI  and Masahiro KOMATSU

About Transportation in Kyoto

Because Kyoto is an urban city, it is rare for people to be inconvenienced by transportation. The bus system which runs in the city covers all the main streets so making connections is also not complicated. In addition to that, the subway and the train also go through the city and it is very convenient when going a distance from the center city.  Unlike buses, trains are not going to be late because of traffic jams, so you can get to the destination station on time.

The problem that comes up is that buses often are delayed due to traffic congestion. If you live in Kyoto, you may be able to predict when the buses will be delayed and act. However, Kyoto, one of the world’s leading tourist cities, has many tourists from Japan and abroad. There are many disadvantages that tourists cannot act on schedule. For example, they cannot go to some sightseeing spots and have time for a return trip they are one a tight schedule.

In this way, transportation in tourist cities should be as timely as possible. Therefore, we would like to recommend running trams. There used to be a tramway operation plan in Kyoto, but the plan has disappeared. How would a tram system benefit Kyoto residents and visitors?

Merits of a Tram System

There are some merits of having a tram as an example of a successful city. For example, in Hokkaido which is located in the northernmost part of Japan, and in Sapporo city in Hokkaido there is a tram and it is very successful. The streetcar in Sapporo is circulating in the city and stops at major tourist spots. Connecting with trains and buses is complicated because the sightseeing spots of Sapporo city are scattered in a wide range in the east, west, north and south. However, the circulation of the tram has made it easy to go to various sightseeing spots. Not only that, because it is operated on time, it is convenient for commuting and going to school, so it seems that there are many customers on the streetcar in Sapporo. Next, the streetcar of Toyama, prefecture located in the center of the Japanese archipelago, is also a successful example. Toyama prefecture made various efforts to increase the number of customers using trams. For example, the plan is to improve convenience by maintaining the bicycle parking lot around the station, and also to improve the understanding of the residents because it operates firmly with the administration. Many customers have gained easy access to large shopping malls and public facilities. As you can see from examples of these successful cities, many people can easily access each sightseeing spot on time, easily by using trams in Kyoto.

Problems of a Tram System

However, in order to utilize a tram, it is necessary to clear many problems. First of all, Kyoto is a city that has existed for over 1000 years, and its remnants are a lot left behind. As a result, the road width is very narrow compared to cities of the same size. The road in Kyoto has no space for a tram. If the Kyoto tram planner goes over the rail of the tram without taking any measures at all, traffic congestion and traffic accidents will occur frequently. In order to clear this problem, it is necessary to regulate traffic to protect the streetcar by taking a firm link with the administration. For example, on roads where traffic congestion is likely to occur, there will be traffic regulation of general vehicles. Therefore, in order to solve the problem, understanding from residents is necessary. A sufficient explanation will be necessary for residents to understand the convenience of trams. However, the use of trams in Kyoto, a tourist city, leads to improvement of traffic congestion and improvement of convenience. By connecting the tram cars, it is possible to increase the number of people who can be transported. Buses have an upper limit on the number of people who can be transported at one time, but trams do not have an upper limit. Utilizing trams in Kyoto can reduce the amount of cars that customers ride, which leads to improved traffic congestion. In addition, the convenience for tourists would be improved by the creation of new transportation with transporting power.

Future of Trams in Kyoto

Next, consider the other merits of having a tram in Kyoto. If a tram can work to connect tourist attractions, tourists can plan stamp rallies etc. If you do such a project, it will be more fun to tourist attractions. Tourists are visiting Kyoto sightseeing spots, Kiyomizu Temple, Yasaka Shrine and Heian Shrine are on the straight main street called Higashi Oji Street so that it is easy to access. However, these places are a bit far to walk, but the same time is required to walk and use the bus, as buses are used to get caught up in traffic or the number of buses is small. Therefore, if tourists can utilize a tram without a traffic jam, it will be less stressful and accessible. Furthermore, if cooperation with other transportation facilities is established, it becomes easier to access various places.

The subway in Kyoto is inconvenient because it has only two lines. However, if you add a tram to those existing method of transportation, the range of access will be several times wider. Since the tram is a circulation line, even at the terminal station, the number does not decrease, so do not worry about the time. However, there is a possibility of a decrease in the number of people going to sightseeing spots away from the streetcar. To solve the problem, change the bus diamond according to the situation, set a rental bicycle at the station, and so on. Such efforts lead to departure from the car society. Utilization of trams will also be a solution to problems of exhaust gas and traffic congestion

Kyoto Needs a Tram

The operation of trams has all kinds of problems, and it will take a considerable amount of time and money to solve them. However, as trams become available, access in Kyoto will be very convenient. And the tram is good not only for people but also for the environment. We are hoping for a streetcar to be born in Kyoto for people and the Earth.

A Guide to Transportation In Kyoto

by Misato Yamada and Yukiko Yoshizawa

We take public transportation, such as Kyoto city bus and Hankyu train every day to go to our university. Sometimes we see some foreign tourists who are confused about how to ride those transportation when we use it. So, we would like to show how to take Kyoto city bus and Hankyu-train. We’d appreciate for it if you could make use of this website during your visit in Kyoto.

Kyoto City Bus

Kyoto City Bus

Kyoto City Bus

This bus system runs around Kyoto city and we can take many bus routes for 230yen (child:120yen) despite the distance between a bus stop of departure and that of the destination within some areas. Some buses are crowded with a lot of passengers through the year or during the good seasons for travel like spring and fall, but you can watch great historical city views of Kyoto city while taking the bus. If you have questions such as whether the bus goes to your destination, please ask a bus driver or other passengers.

How to ride

Although in some countries, passengers might get on from front the entrance and pay fares soon after getting on a bus, there are different rules for the bus in Kyoto. At first, passengers get on the bus from the back or the middle entrance and they have to pay their fares before getting off from the front entrance in Kyoto City bus. When you don’t have exactly 230 yen, you can’t get change directly from the fare collection. However, you can exchange paper money or 500 yen coins into some 100 yen coins and 10 yen coins. Buses also accept prepaid cards, such as Lagare, Kyoto City Bus and Subway cards.


  1. Priority Seat

There are priority seats in the front space and they are mainly seats for elderly persons, pregnant women, injured persons or physically challenged persons, and persons accompanied by small children. If there are few passengers in the bus, anyone can sit down on the priority seats. But, when you notice those priority passengers, it is customary to give up your seat to them.

Priority Seat

Priority Seat

  1. Wheelchair space

Also, there are seats for a person in a wheelchair in the front space. Any persons usually can sit down on the seats. However, when a person in a wheelchair gets on the bus, this seat can be folded back by a bus driver and make wheelchair space. Also, it is fastened to the floor on a belt.


Hankyu train and Kyo-train

Hankyu train- Kyo train

Hankyu train- Kyo train

The Hankyu train runs between Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto. You can go to a lot of tourist attractions by taking this train. In recent years, a wonderful train runs. It is called Kyo-train. The exterior of the train has painted pictures of fans. The moment you take it, you can feel like you are in Kyoto. It is Japanese style in the train. Each car has a different Japanese style.

In cars 1 and 2, there are reddish-colored seats on which there is a design of an orchid. You can feel Kyoto’s brightness.

In cars 3 and 4, the style is especially wonderful. I recommend that you take these cars. It’s because you can see Kyoto’s traditional house. In the entrance, there are lattice divider plates. It is like the entrance of Kyoto’s traditional houses.

These seats are really Japanese style. The backrest of the seats are tatami, and they are designed to look like floor cushions (zabuton). The design is a Japanese pattern.


The seats in cars 3 and 4

The seats in cars 3 and 4


Although you are in the train, you would feel like being in Kyoto’s house.

In cars 5 and 6, there are green seats which have a design of hemp leaves. You can feel that this is a comfortable space.

In cars 5 and 6

In cars 5 and 6


In addition, there are Kyoto guide maps in each car. They are written in Japanese, English, Korean, and Chinese. They introduce the recommended spots in Gion, Kiyomizu, and Arashiyama. They also include information about festivals, food in Kyoto and so on.

Traditional patterns are also on the floor, doors, and walls. The dark-brown floor is designed to look like an earthen floor in Kyoto’s traditional house. The design of the doors is the bamboo-patterned, and the wall is designed to look like a wave.

Information about Arashiyama is announced in Japanese, English, Korean, and Chinese.


If you take the Kyo-train, you would have a chance to experience a taste of Japan, and be excited.


Train Information

・Areas served: Umeda to Kawaramachi

・Days of service: Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays

・Number of trains: 4 round trips per day

・Stations served: Umeda, Juso, Awaji, Katsura, Karasuma, Kawaramachi


We introduced Kyoto City Bus and Hankyu Kyoto line Kyo-train. Please visit tourist attractions by taking them. We will be very happy that this web page is useful to you. We hope that your travel is satisfactory.



・“Hankyu train”

・”KYOTO Guide Map”