Buses in Kyoto are very easy to use and economical. Here are some quick tips to help get you on your way to navigating the Kyoto bus system with ease and comfort.
This Kyoto Bus Map (perfect for tablets and smartphones) lists most of the main routes, but not every single one. Paper copies can be found at most hotels, ryokan, and other accommodations as well as Kyoto City Information Centres such as:
JR Kyoto Station Building 2nd Floor
Hours of Operation: 8:30-19:00 (all year round)
All Day Kyoto Bus Pass (Inner City)
Where to buy?
Bus passes are sold at hotels, information centres and on the bus from the bus drivers. Just ask in Japanese「一日乗車券」”ichinichi jyoshaken” which means a “one day pass.” The first time you insert your card there will be a date printed on the back of it. After that you can simply show the bus driver the date on the back of the card, instead of inserting the card every time.
Note: Unlimited use on day of validation (very first bus until last bus) but Arashiyama, Sagano, Takao, Shugakuin etc. are outside of allocated zone (Inner City); must pay extra for these.
Where to enter?
Enter at back of bus (for ticket buses, please take a ticket). Usually there is no ticket and you pay at the front before getting off.
Where to get off?
The name of your destination might be announced or indicated at the front of the bus on an electronic board next to the driver on the upper left hand side.
How to get off?
You’ll see buttons located all-over the bus. Just push one.
How to pay?
Drop the fare into the opening at the top of the fare box next to the driver. If you have a bus pass, please insert the card into the slot the bus driver directs you to. The first time you insert your buss pass there will be a date printed on the back of it. After that you can simply show the bus driver the date on the back of the card, instead of inserting the card every time. You can purchase the bus pass from the bus driver. In Japanese「一日乗車券」”ichinichi jyoshaken” which means a “one day pass.”
You are also able to make change, but only for a ¥1,000 bills or ¥500 coins. The location of the slots may differ depending on the bus. However, there are little pictures next to the slots that indicate where to insert ¥1,000 bills or ¥500 coins. The bus driver will show you if assistance is necessary.
It will probably be announced in Japanese, so I recommend keeping a look out for your stop. When you want to get off, press one of these buttons located throughout the bus. You will notice them immediately as they all light up when someone presses it.
◊ Information referenced from 京都市情報館 Kyoto City Web Website
Route & Bus Stops
Bus stops are usually located among the main roads. Using an online or hard copy of the bus map, Bus Navi, match route numbers on your map with numbers displayed on the front, back, and side of the bus. Bus Navi lists only the major bus numbers and routes.