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Tokyo to Kyoto by train or plane?

Level Contributor
6 posts
2 reviews
Tokyo to Kyoto by train or plane?

Should my family and I take the Shinkansen from Tokyo straight to Kyoto, or take a flight to Osaka and then from Osaka take the 14 min Shinkansen to Kyoto? The reason I am considering the flight is because it is a lot cheaper than taking the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto... like $50 one way (excluding the fare to Narita and fare from Osaka to Kyoto) versus the Shinkansen which would be $127....

15 replies to this topic
Destination Expert
for Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
58,515 posts
67 reviews
1. Re: Tokyo to Kyoto by train or plane?

It depends on what you value your time to be. Also consider flying out of HND rather than NRT. It’s quicker and a less expensive commute by train or bus.

Level Contributor
1 post
46 reviews
2. Re: Tokyo to Kyoto by train or plane?

If you are staying in Japan for several days I recommend purchasing Japan Rail Pass. The Japan Rail Pass allows unlimited travel on the whole nationwide Japan Railway (JR) network, including the Shinkansen (bullet train), JR ferries, and JR buses. It is 29,110 yen in 7 days.

It is detailed in [NIHONRYOKO Bus Plaza]> English> RailPass of the following link.


Level Contributor
4,676 posts
335 reviews
3. Re: Tokyo to Kyoto by train or plane?

Consider that when you fly to Osaka, you actually fly to Itami, which is not a Shinkansen stop. From Itami, you have to get to Shin-Osaka to take the Shinkansen to Kyoto Station. Maybe cheaper in terms of money, but you might lose time and convenience. Your choices.

Queenstown, New...
Level Contributor
4,683 posts
61 reviews
4. Re: Tokyo to Kyoto by train or plane?

Are you considering transferring from an international flight directly to a domestic flight to Osaka? This may work for you.

Yes it may be a short shinkansen ride from ShinOsaka to Kyoto- but, as noted, you've got to get from either Itami or Kansai Airport to ShinOsaka. Then ShinOsaka to Kyoto is about 5,000yen. The normal trains are about 600yen from Osaka to Kyoto in comparisan.

Also as noted - ultimately it takes about the same amount of time from Narita Airport to Kyoto Station...

By land: NEX train Narita - Tokyo (60min); shinkansen Tokyo - Kyoto(140min).

By air: Check-in 60mins b4 flight, 60min flight to Osaka, time to pick up luggage, train to Kyoto (from Itami about 45mins/ from Kansai airport about 80mins).

Level Contributor
5,095 posts
11 reviews
5. Re: Tokyo to Kyoto by train or plane?

The overwhelming majority (close to 100%) take the Shinkansen between Tokyo and Kyoto.

The Shinkansen arrives faster, is easier, and more comfortable.

KIX and NRT are away from the city. ITM and HND are closer but still away, and are not in competition with the Shinkansen considering time required for airport access and checking in.

Edited: 13 May 2018, 14:20
Verona, Italy
Level Contributor
35 posts
96 reviews
6. Re: Tokyo to Kyoto by train or plane?

If you are on budget, then take plane to Osaka. Most LCC only cost like ¥5-7.000 including baggage, plus transportation to & from airport will cost you around ¥2-3.000 round trip. Total cost would be around less than ¥10-12.000, if you are taking plane, while taking Shinkansen will cost you around ¥15.000.

In case you are taking plane, taking bus from OCAT (Osaka City Air Terminal) will cost you ¥1.550, Kansai Airport to Kyoto cost you ¥2.550,

I fly in & out for over 7times a year to Japan, i never consider JR Pass, but if you still considering JR Pass, count your route in here https://www.jrpass.com/farecalculator

In most times, I take shinkansen without having JR Pass, as my itinerary won't paid off. The rest, taking plane.

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
971 posts
101 reviews
7. Re: Tokyo to Kyoto by train or plane?

Taking the discussion into account, I’d still go Shinkansen, not plane

Honolulu, Hawaii
Level Contributor
526 posts
19 reviews
8. Re: Tokyo to Kyoto by train or plane?

If you are staying in Tokyo already prior to Osaka/Kyoto make sure you add time and cost getting to and from airport to final destination.

In Tokyo (depending on the area you are staying) to Kyoto hotel = transportation time to get to HND or NRT, time to check in, going thru security and wait for the plane and the cost of the both transportation (going to airport + cost of plane tix)

Arriving in KIX or ITM to Osaka/Kyoto = cost of transportation to Shin-Osaka, cost of Shinkansen to Kyoto from Shin-Osaka (calculate time plus transpo cost); you can always take a regular train that will take about 30 mins or so for only 500 yen unless you want to experience Shinkansen. Which is waste to do so for only 14 mins with the cost. I wouldn't even bother paying for that ride.

If you are already within Tokyo metro area then you should be within 20 mins from Tokyo Sta or Shinagawa Sta to take a Shinkansen to Kyoto Sta. From there, just get to hotel.

So figure out how much you are actually saving after totaling ALL transportation costs to/from since you mentioned "excluding".

Tsukuba, Japan
Level Contributor
10,094 posts
317 reviews
9. Re: Tokyo to Kyoto by train or plane?

Yes, most people move from Tokyo to Kyoto by Shinkansen (@14,000 yen oneway), but if you want to fly directly from Tokyo (Narita or Haneda) to Osaka, 1) please check the cost of an air flight directly from your country to Kansai Airport (KIX) plus the cost of JR Haruka Express from KIX Airport to Kyoto. 2) If you come to Narita or Haneda Airport, please check JAL Japan Explorer Pass and ANA Experience Japan Fare. It is better to use JAL or ANA in combination with an air flight from country by the carrier in the same group, one world (JAL) or star alliance(ANA). 3) If you alternatively use other LCC companies, such as Peach Aviation, JetStar Japan, Vanilla Air, you have to be careful about the connection with your air flight from your country: if it delayed significantly and you missed the LCC, you might not get a refund or a ticket for a later flight of LCC.



Level Contributor
4,483 posts
149 reviews
10. Re: Tokyo to Kyoto by train or plane?

Add in the cost from ITM (Osaka airport) to your destination. You are not comparing like with like.

You can get from ITM to the shinkansen (about 30 minutes I think), or just get the bus (around an hour) to Kyoto.

Obviously airports and shinkansen stations are not even close to each other and involves a couple of transfers at Osaka.

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