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Traveling to Kyoto from Osaka: Planning A One Day Trip

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by GoWithGuide travel specialist:Akane N.

Last updated : Jun 18, 20249 min read

Itinerary Ideas

If you’re looking for information about a one-day trip to Kyoto from Osaka, you’re in the right place. Kyoto is a great place to go on a day trip since it’s only about 15–30 minutes away by train. There’s a lot to see but since it’s so close, it’s almost as if it’s in the same city. So having your accommodations in Osaka is not a problem.

 

If you’re only planning to be in Kyoto for one day, you won’t have time to wander around the city aimlessly, so make sure to create an itinerary to follow. And try to research how much time it will take from one sightseeing spot to another, how much time you want to spend at each place, and around what time or area would be a good time to fit in a lunch break. A lot of temples and shrines close in the early evening, so you’ll need to think about that as well when you’re making your plans. 

 

 

How to get to Kyoto

The fastest way to get to Kyoto from Osaka is by Shinkansen. It’s only a 15-minute ride. For those of you who have a Japan Rail Pass, if you ride on the non-reserved seating car, there’s no extra fee. But be aware, you can only ride the “Hikari” and “Kodama” Shinkansens and not the “Nozomi”. For people who don’t have a Japan Rail Pass, it’s 1,420 yen one way for a non-reserved ticket on any Shinkansen.

 

 

You can also get to Kyoto by regular train. There are two types of trains you can use, the JR train or the Hankyu train. They are two different train companies. 

 

The easiest and the fastest way is to use the JR line. You’ll need to get on the “Shin-Kaisoku” or new express train. You can get on from either JR Osaka station or JR Shin-Osaka station. The cost is 560 yen one way, and it takes 25–30 minutes, depending on which station you get on from. You’ll be arriving at JR Kyoto station. The only downside is that JR Kyoto station is a bit of a distance from the center of the city, where places like the famous Gion area is located.

 

 

The other route is to use the Hankyu train from Hankyu Umeda station in Osaka to Kawaramachi station in Kyoto. Umeda station is actually connected to JR Osaka station, though it’s a 5 to 10 minute walk from one station to the other. And Kawaramachi station is in the center of Kyoto city, so it’s easier to go shopping or sightseeing from there, and it is close to the Gion area. In order to get there, you need to take the Limited Express (“Tokkyu” in Japanese) bound for Kawaramachi station. It takes about 45 minutes and the cost is around 400 yen one way.

Famous sightseeing spots in Kyoto

Kiyomizudera Temple

 

 

Kiyomizudera was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1994. It was founded at the location of the Otowa Waterfall in 780, hence the name of the temple, Kiyomizu, meaning pure water in Japanese. The roof of the main hall has been under renovation since February 2017 and will continue to do so until March 2020. However, it’s still possible to go inside to sight see.

 

Kiyomizudera is famous for the large balcony outside the main hall. It is called the “stage” of Kiyomizu in Japanese. And you’ll see why when you see it. It hangs 13 meters high in the air like a performance stage you can view from the surrounding hillside below. As you can imagine, the view from the platform is amazing. In the spring, there are pink cherry blossoms everywhere. And in the autumn, the woods become like a carpet of red, yellow, and orange maple trees.

 

Kiyomizuzaka, which is the long sloping street leading to the temple, is the best place to do some shopping. You’ll find lots of shops lining the streets with souvenirs of Kyoto and many Japanese knick-knacks you can’t help but buy. And there are restaurants or cafés to stop by if you need to take a break from all the sightseeing.

 

Ryoanji Temple 

 

 

The rock garden at Ryoanji Temple is said to be the most famous rock garden in Japan. It is a simple but somehow beautiful and soothing scene that hundreds of tourists come to see every day. It’s less crowded in the early morning, so that is the best time to visit. The temples were originally built in the Heian Era as a villa of an aristocrat. Then in 1450, it was converted into a Zen temple.

 

The garden can be viewed from the Hojo building. When the garden was created or who designed it is unknown. The Zen garden is in a rectangular shape and has grey rocks placed at several points in a sea of small white pebbles. It has a curious and highly calculated design in which at least one of the rocks is hidden from view by another rock at any angle you look at the garden from. If you don’t believe me, try looking at the garden from multiple standpoints. You’ll find that it’s true. The meaning of the placement of these 15 rocks is unknown. Some say it represents an old Chinese theme of a tiger carrying her cubs across a body of water.

 

Ginkakuji Temple 

 

 

Many Japanese people sightseeing in Kyoto think of Ginkakuji Temple (Silver Pavilion) and Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion) as a set, because of the names of these temples have the color silver or “gin” and gold or “kin” in their names. But if you go to Ginkakuji Temple thinking that it’s covered in silver, just as Kinkakuji Temple is covered in gold leaf, you’ll be sorely disappointed. The temple actually has another official name, but as it was modeled after Kinkakuji, it is called by this more popular name. 

 

It was built as a villa for Yoshimasa Ashikaga, but was converted into a Zen Temple after his death. There are several buildings along with a moss garden and a dry sand garden. These unique gardens can be enjoyed by following the circular path. It takes you up onto the hillside so that you can enjoy a wonderful view of the entire temple grounds.

 

Arashiyama 

 

 

Arashiyama is popular for its green bamboo forest. It’s about 30 minutes away from central Kyoto but well worth the train ride. You’ll find several temples in this area surrounded by nature. However, since it’s such a popular sightseeing spot, you’ll also find a great many tourists there as well. To be able to visit this area without navigating the crowds, going there early in the morning is best. 

 

The Togetsukyo bridge is also a highlight. In the cherry blossom season of spring, the bridge is illuminated so that it creates a mystical scene with the cherry blossoms in the background. It’s also an area popular in the summer since its closeness to the river and the shade of the trees makes the heat of summer a little more bearable.

 

Tips and Recommendations

If you’re not too keen about thinking up an itinerary by yourself or researching how to get from one sightseeing spot to the other, then why don’t you just hire a tour guide to pick you up in Osaka, take you to Kyoto and back? It’s much easier and less stressful than trying to do something you don’t feel up to doing. 

 

Want to make your Kyoto trip more interesting? Here's how! 

 

GoWithGuide the Best Private Tours and Locals Guides across Japan. If you are interested to know more and save your time during your trip to Kyoto, you can Send a Message to our local guides to get a customized itinerary and quotation for an unforgettable experience.

 

GoWithGuide website you can find the best professional Local Guides all across Japan to help you plan your trip. Check our Private Tours for Kyoto

Shiga Tour Guide - Koichi W.

Koichi W.

4.95 / 5
(56 reviews)
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Hi! I'm Koichi. I was born in Osaka, I studied in Kyoto when I was a university student. Now I live in Shiga next to Kyoto. I am a national government licensed tour guide. I have been guiding about 160 groups over the past twelve months. I usually guide my customers mainly in Kansai region including Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Kobe and Shiga by public transportation systems. Well, I am curious about Japanese history, especially the history of Japan's ancient times since I was raised next to the world biggest mausoleum of the ancient Emperor called "Nintoku" in Sakai city Osaka which has just become one of the world cultural heritage sites. I dug out some ancient earthen ware vessels around there when I was a primary school student like the adventure archaeologist “Indiana Jones" (It’s our secret!!). That was my hobby. Now, one of my hobbies is outdoor activities such as mountaineering, kayaking, skiing and others. So I would like to take you to some good places where you can enjoy Japanese unique nature. I love to guide foreign visitors from all over the world. I think it is my calling or heavenly given job. Let's go and enjoy together! I hope to see you soon.                                                                                                                                 

Osaka Tour Guide - Takashi M.

Takashi M.

5.00 / 5
(17 reviews)
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Hi, my name is Takashi!! When I go abroad, I think that how nice it would be to have a friend there and hang out together. I want you to feel like you have a friend in Osaka and we can go around and explore the city. I was born and grew up in Japan. And I speak English, Spanish and Japanese. I can be the perfect guide for you!! I can also guide you any other cities in Japan, just let me know where you wanna go :)                                                                                                                                 

Osaka Tour Guide - Kazuyoshi M.

Kazuyoshi M.

5.00 / 5
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This tour mainly tours Osaka and Kyoto. I have lived in Osaka for 10 years and have been to Kyoto 300 times through tourism. I can also offer hands-on guided tours. I can offer maiko and geiko viewing, furoshiki (wrapping cloth) making, matcha (powdered green tea), professional acupuncture in ninja costume, and introduction-type experiences. My Instagram account has been viewed by 130,000 people in one month. Not to mention famous places. I can also guide visitors to places where foreign tourists do not usually go. I can be flexible. Best regards.                                                                                                                                 

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