So, you’re going from Tokyo to Kyoto with a JR pass.
Or maybe Hiroshima to Kyoto.
Can you use your JR pass for buses in Kyoto?!
Yes, there ARE some top Kyoto attractions that you can visit using your JR pass.
There are a number of different types of buses in Kyoto, with the regular buses being the “city bus” and “Kyoto bus.”
There’s also the “Raku bus” which is basically a tourist bus with bus routes going near main tourist attractions.
And then there’s the “JR bus” which is the ONLY bus you’ll be able to use your JR pass.
The JR bus route is a bit more limiting, but if you want to get around to some of Kyoto’s top spots ONLY using your JR pass, you can make it work!
There is also a JR train in Kyoto and it does go near some top spots too.
Another option might be to go for a one day bus pass (you’d pay extra for this – it’s like US$5).
And if you haven’t yet bought your JR pass, see the current price of a JR pass from an official JR pass vendor (and partner website). There are 7-day, 14-day, and 21-day passes available.
First, the quick list of the best places to visit by taking a JR bus.
Then, the more complete list of places you can go by bus in Kyoto with a JR pass.
3 best places to visit by bus in Kyoto with a JR pass
1. Nijo Castle (+ teahouse)
2. Kinkakuji Temple
3. Ryoanji Temple
These 3 places are among the top UNESCO world heritage sites in Kyoto.
You can also go to the popular Kyoto neighborhood called Arashiyama with a JR pass (there’s a JR train), and here’s a one day Arashiyama itinerary for that.
And if you’ll be in Kyoto for cherry blossom season, here’s a one-day cherry blossom photo walk.
List of where you can go by taking the JR bus
- Kyoto Station
- Kyoto Aquarium
- Kyoto Railway Museum
- Nijo Castle
- Kitano Tenmangu Shrine
- Kinkakuji Temple
- Ryoanji Temple
- Ninnaji Temple
- Jingoji Temple
- Kozanji Temple
JR bus route map
Photo was taken summer 2018.
And if you’re not committed to the JR bus, also consider…
Kyoto with a 600 yen (US$5) one day bus pass!
It’ll get you to a few more of the top spots in Kyoto!
- Kyoto Station to Nijo Castle bus
- Nijo Castle (+ teahouse)
- Nijo Castle to Kinkakuji bus
- Kinkakuji Temple
- Kinkakuji to Ryoanji bus
- Ryoanji Temple
- Ryoanji to Yasaka Shrine bus
- Gion to Kiyomizu-dera walk
- Kiyomizu-dera to Kyoto station bus
JR train in Kyoto
There are also a few trains in Kyoto that are on the JR line.
Once again, this may be a bit more limiting compared to if you allow yourself to ride on any subway or train in Kyoto.
HAPPY JR BUS RIDE IN KYOTO!
Use this Kyoto tourist map to plan out your 5 days in Kyoto!
- Day 1: Top tourist spots with one day bus pass
- Day 2: Fushimi Inari Shrine hike through 1,000 torii gates
- Day 3: Philosopher’s Path walk
- Day 4: Arashiyama and Sagano
- Day 5: Kurama Kibune Ohara with one day pass
More quick tips for planning your trip to JapanThere are affiliate links on this page that take you to partner websites.
For more on planning your trip to Kyoto, see the 1-day, 2-day, and 5-day Kyoto itineraries. If you'll be in Kyoto in the spring, also see the 1-day cherry blossom photo walk.
Hotels in KyotoSearch for deals on Kyoto hotels here.
For hostels across Japan, try this top backpacker's hostel chain.
Kyoto can also be a good place to stay at a Japanese-style ryokan, like this one. Or if you're on more of a budget, try this one.
Also use the map below to see more hotels in Kyoto!
The super fast train in JapanIn general, 2 long-distance shinkansen train trips will likely end up making it so the JR pass will be worth it.
See the current price of a JR pass from an official vendor.
See an example of traveling by the fast train from Tokyo to Kyoto.
NEW way of buying individual shinkansen train tickets online!I will start by saying I have NOT bought train tickets online this way (yet!) to verify this! (But it's on my list for my next trip to Japan!)
There's an online train ticket booking method that's popular for other parts of Asia, and they are just now branching out to Japan.
You can now buy train tickets online here for popular shinkansen train routes. (And some bus routes too.)
I've used this booking site for taking the train from Thailand to Malaysia, and it worked out well, so I would expect it to work out well in Japan too!
The thing is, though, that you need to pick up the physical train tickets in person.
So it won't be enough to just buy the tickets online. I had to do this in Bangkok for my train ticket - and it was easy! So again, I would think it'd be easy for Japan train tickets too.
Search for popular routes in Japan here. For example, Tokyo to Kyoto.
If you end up buying train tickets online this way, I would love to hear how it goes! Whether that's good, or if it came with some challenges!
Natural disasters in JapanUnfortunately, Japan can be prone to natural disasters which means risk for travel delays. So be sure to look at travel insurance for natural disasters.
My travel insurance took care of my accommodation and food costs when I was forced to stay extra days in Japan because of a typhoon.
See how much insurance costs for your trip.
Best travel guides for JapanIf you're at step 1 in your planning process, have a look at this Discover Japan book.
For "books" that won't take up space in your suitcase, see the best PDF guides.
See more of the best books for Japan trip planning.
Create your Japan itinerary
- 5 days in Kyoto
- Cost of climbing Mt Fuji from Tokyo
- Where to go for famous Mt Fuji views as seen in pictures
- Know before you go to Hiroshima
- One day in Miyajima with famous floating torii views
- 3 days in Okinawa, Japan's tropical islands
- Cherry blossom photo walk
- When is the JR pass worth it for train travel?
- Tokyo to Kyoto train
- Hostels in Japan