In my last Kyoto Journal, I covered how to get around the city using the buses. This time around, I figured out how to navigate the subway system, and it's not as scary as I had initially thought it to be! Here, I'll explain how to get around the faster way in Kyoto!
The Kyoto subway system is wonderful; it gets you where you want to go (or very close to it), without having to wait for traffic. Consequently, it winds up being much faster than the buses for about the same price!
There are 2 main lines in central Kyoto: The Karasuma line, which runs south and north, starting from Kyoto Station, and the Tozai line, which runs east and west. Both lines are mapped out at Kyoto station, which is the starting point for most tourists.
Here is a step-by-step guide for the ticketing process:
1.) Determine which subway station is your final destination.
2.) Go to the fare map and find your destination/fare on the map. Remember this fare.
3.) Go to the ticketing kiosk and press ENGLISH SERVICE. (This makes things a lot easier!)
4.) Insert your money based on your TOTAL FARE(S). You can purchase tickets for more than one person at a time.
5.) The kiosk will then ask you for your individual fare. If your destination states on the map that your fare is 250 yen, enter "250".
6.) At the bottom, there are buttons that have pictures of one to five people; if you are purchasing tickets for 2 people, press the button indicating 2 people.
7.) Press "Purchase tickets". Tickets will spit out of the machine. Hooray!
If you're starting from Kyoto station, you will be on the Karasuma line and can only head north. Depending on your destination, you may have to switch to the Tozai line. Be sure to note the station at which you must switch trains. There are English announcements on the trains informing you of the stops, but if it is during the busy hours, you may not be able to hear the announcements, so be alert.
It helps to count the number of stops the train will make before your final destination. That way, if you miss the announcement of which station you're at, you will still know which station to get off at.
Also make note of the final destination of the TRAIN you need to get on - and make sure it matches the destination of the train you actually board. It is easy to get on a train that's headed in the opposite direction - so if you're going to sightseeing attraction on a train that ultimately heads to "X", make sure you hop on the train that says "X" and not "Y", or you may find yourself lost!
While the subway system may be a bit intimidating to a first-timer, I assure you, once you get the hang of it, using it is a snap, and will save you a lot of valuable sight-seeing time!