So, you’re going from Tokyo to Kyoto with a JR pass.
Or maybe Hiroshima to Kyoto.
Can you use your JR pass for trains in Kyoto?!
Yes, there ARE some top Kyoto attractions that you can visit using your JR pass.
There are different train companies in Kyoto, and there is a “JR” train too.
The “JR train” is the ONLY train you’ll be able to use your JR pass.
The JR train lines don’t go everywhere, but if you want to maximize the use of your JR pass when you are in Kyoto, there there are a few places that you can go taking the JR train.
There’s a subway system in Kyoto, and your JR pass won’t be good for that.
To know which your JR pass is good for, the train will say that it’s “JR” and that’s how you’ll know whether you’ll be able to use your JR pass for any given train.
When you’re looking at Google Maps, it’ll say “JR” in front of the train line, so be sure to look out for that. If you look on google maps of any of the places listed below from Kyoto Station and don’t see “JR” then you might need to adjust the departure time so it’ll show up. The immediately departing trains may not include the JR trains.
Google Maps can be a pretty reliable way for getting around Kyoto by public transportation.
There are also limited places to go taking the JR bus in Kyoto too.
4 best places to visit by train around Kyoto with a JR pass
Arashiyama is an area of Kyoto, and you can get to Arashiyama by JR train.
Some of the top things to do in Arashiyama…
This is probably among the most iconic pictures of Kyoto.
There are 2 train stations near the Fushimi Inari shrine. If you’re looking at Google Maps, you’ll want to go to “Inari” station, and not “Fushimi Inari” station. Inari station is for the JR train.
A visit to the Fushimi Inari shrine is a part of this 2-day Kyoto itinerary.
But a day of Fushimi Inari and Arashiyama sounds perfect! If you decide to go to both in one day, then I think going to Fushimi Inari first is better, because you’ll find a lot more things to do in Arashiyama so you don’t have to feel as rushed knowing you need to go somewhere else afterwards!
3. Nijo Castle
This is a UNESCO world heritage site. Also visit the Nijo Castle teahouse!
You can get to Nijo Castle by JR train, but consider also paying around US$5 for a one day bus pass so you can go to a bunch of other spot to go along with it.
Although not in Kyoto, there’s also a JR train that will take you to Nara.
Nara is the former ancient capital of Japan and city with deer roaming around.
It can be perfect to spend one day in Nara.
See more about taking the train from Kyoto to Nara with a JR pass.
And if you’re flying out of Osaka after Kyoto, you can get from Kyoto to Kansai airport by JR train too!
JR bus in Kyoto
Again, there are also a few places you can get around Kyoto by JR bus.
This may be a bit more limiting compared to if you allow yourself to ride on any subway or train in Kyoto, but it’s there.
The sequence of taking a train in Kyoto!
Just follow the signs!
HAPPY JR TRAIN RIDE IN KYOTO!
More quick tips for planning your trip to JapanThere are affiliate links on this page that take you to partner websites.
When the JR pass is worth itIn general, 2 long-distance shinkansen train trips will likely end up making it so the JR pass will be worth it. But here's how to calculate it to be sure. See the current price of a JR pass from an official vendor.
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. There have been a few typhoons that have hit Japan in the past couple of years and they can cause real travel disruptions!
See how much insurance costs for your trip.
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.