Kyoto City has a convenient system of train lines that allows visitors and locals alike to get where they need to go quickly and cheaply. Though it may seem daunting at first, there are a few useful basics to know about the layout of the lines that can make navigating the train system easier.
Kyoto Station is the hub for almost all city trains, including the north to south Karasuma subway line, the Kintetsu line that will take you to southern Kyoto and beyond to Nara, and the JR lines. JR’s Sanin line can take you west to Arashiyama, the Tōkaido line can take you southwest to Osaka or to eastern Kyoto and beyond to the neighboring Shiga Prefecture, and the Nara line can take you south to the city of Uji or to Nara Prefecture. Of course, those coming to Kyoto will likely arrive first in Kyoto Station via the Tōkaidō Line on a shinkansen bullet train.
In addition to the lines that run through Kyoto Station, you can also make use of an arching east to west subway line called the Tōzai line, as well as a north to south line on the eastern side of the Kamogawa River called the Keihan line, which connects northern Kyoto with Osaka, and also has a Keihan Uji line to connect with Uji City.
Navigating through the suburban areas can be done with short private lines, such as the Keifuku (Randen) train line connecting Arashiyama with the downtown area, and the Eizan train line that joins the city center with the northern villages of Kibune and Kurama.
Take a look at the map above and familiarize yourself with the basic routes, and for more detailed information on transfers, travel time, and which tourist spots can be accessed from each station, please visit the pages for individual train lines!