January 19, 2017
by Yumika Fujii and Erica Wada
Japan has a lot of public transportation, for example, Tokyo, the capital city of Japan, has an amazing fifteen subway lines. You can transfer everywhere by those subway lines, but it is very complicated even for Japanese tourists. However, there are only two lines in the Kyoto City Subway system: The Karasuma line and the Tozai line. If you read this article and master the Kyoto City Subway system, you can enjoy Kyoto with more ease and comfort of movement. Here we would like to introduce to you some of the main points and interesting features of this very important part of the Kyoto travel network.
The Karasuma Line
The Karasuma line was the first subway line in Kyoto City when, in 1981, the line connecting Kitaoji station to Kyoto station started. The extent of the line grew longer and longer until it reached its present length in 1997. The railway runs under Karasuma Street, north to south, between Kokusaikaikan station and Takeda station. In the beginning, the Karasuma line trains consisted of only four cars, but now they consist of six cars, following the connection to Takeda Station. There are actually fifteen stations now, numbered K1 to K15, and all the stations are located in Kyoto City, with the express and regular trains all stopping at every station.
Imadegawa Station is located in Kamigyo ward, Kyoto city, and the station number is K6. Imadegawa Station was opened in 1981 which was at the same time the line first began operations. This station is very close to the Kyoto Imperial Palace (Gosho), which is one of the most famous traditional places in Kyoto. Imadegawa station is really only close to the Gosho or Tohoganji Temple, therefore if tourists want to go to the other popular places, they would really need to use the Tozai subway line, Kyoto city buses, or Kyoto bus. However, compared to the Tozai line, the Karasuma Line is more convenient for schools and businesses.
Connecting to Universities in Kyoto
In the north of the city especially, the Karasuma line is a key transport link to a number of large universities. For example, Kyoto Seika University and Kyoto Sangyo University both run shuttle buses from Kokusaikaikan station; Kyoto Kougei Seni University is near Matsugasaki station; Kyoto Notre Dame University is near Kitayama station; Otani University is close to Kitaoji station; the Imadegawa campus of Doshisha University and Doshisha Womens’ University is close to Imadegawa station; the Kyoto campus of HeianWomens’ University is close by Marutamachi station; the Murasakino campus of Bukkyo University is accessible from Kitaoji station and the Shijo center is near Shijo station. As you can see, many universities have a station on the Karasuma subway line nearby, so this is one of the most important transportation methods for students in Kyoto to commute every day.
Kitaoji Bus Terminal
This is a big bus station hub located on the basement level of Kitaoji subway station and a large department store called Vivre. The buses that leave here head to Kyoto Sangyo University, Kamigamo Shrine, Kinkakuji temple, Shugakuin, and many other tourist spots all across the city. This makes the subway and the bus station a major transport hub for Kyoto City.
Karasuma Oike Station
Karasuma Oike station used to be just another station until the Tozai Subway line was established, and the area near Karasuma Oike station was not well developed either. However, after the Tozai line started operations, Karasuma Oike station became one of the major stations to link the Tozai and Karasuma lines. This meant that the surrounding area also gradually began to develop, and is now a thriving business and commercial district in the city.
Kotochika Karasuma Oike
Kotochika is a commercial facility inside the subway stations at Yamashina, Kyoto, Shijo and Karasuma Oike, with Kotochika Karasuma Oike established in 2011. The shops and services you can find here are Daily Yamazaki (which is a convenience store with good bread), Kokokarafain (Drugstore), Ohgaki Shoten (Bookstore), Shizuya (Bakery), Raffine (massage and relaxation space), and Starbucks coffee. There are many people who drink coffee, or buy some when they get on the train or before going to their company. People also want to buy their lunch before going somewhere, or read a book while they are riding on the train. In general, everyone needs something to do to kill time while riding the trains. This facility is particularly useful for them, as they can buy all they need before boarding or heading out to work or school locally.
There are many kinds of tickets available for the subway. A book of 11 tickets, from 1 city ward (210yen) to 5 city wards (350yen), can be bought for the price of 10 tickets because of bulk discount pricing. Daytime discount coupon ticket books have 12 tickets but you can only use them on the subway from 10am to 4pm. However, you can buy 12 tickets for the same price as 10 tickets if you purchase this way. There are also other types of transfer tickets that let you change to the other subway line as well as buses: Trafika Kyo card, Surutto KANSAI Miyako card, a booking card for exclusive buses, and so on, are also available.
In conclusion, Kyoto subway has two lines, the Tozai line and the Karasuma line. Both are used by a lot of tourists and a lot of citizens in Kyoto. Most stations on the Karasuma subway line are located near a university in Kyoto, so this line is in comparatively high demand by students living in Kyoto, or from other prefectures. In addition, there are many convenient ticket options that allow tourists to access the subway line during the day. Please use them to go to tourist spots, and enjoy a wonderful relaxing time in Kyoto.