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How To Do An Osaka to Kyoto Day Trip & Use Your JR Pass!

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Staying in Kyoto for a few nights was on my original Japan Itinerary however because I visited Japan during Cherry Blossom Season which is the peak of tourism in Japan, most of the accommodation in Kyoto was booked so instead, I decided to stay in Osaka with more accommodation options and do a Osaka to Kyoto day trip using my JR Pass which meant I didn’t need to pay for any extra transport to get from Osaka to Kyoto!

I didn’t know how much I could see in one day in Kyoto but I managed to tick off 3 of my must-visit places in Kyoto – Fushimi Inari Shrine, the Gion District and Arashiyama Bamboo Grove plus I saw a lot more of Kyoto and really enjoyed my day trip from Osaka to Kyoto.

Osaka to Kyoto Day Trip

The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog Osaka to Kyoto Day Trip
Keep Reading for how to do your Osaka to Kyoto Day Trip!

So in this Japan travel blog and Japan travel guide, here’s how to do an Osaka to Kyoto day trip using the JR Pass, some information to help you plan your one day in Kyoto and some things to do in Kyoto in 1 day.

Note that you can also follow this day trip to Kyoto post if you want to do a Nara to Kyoto day trip or a Kobe to Kyoto day trip!

How to Get from Osaka to Kyoto?

I had a JR Pass on my trip to Japan and it’s likely you will too!

I reserved a seat on a train leaving Osaka Station to Kyoto Station at 8:10 am arriving at 8:39 am. It was a speedy and comfy journey on a train called Thunderbird.

I’d definitely recommend getting this train for your day trip from Osaka to Kyoto.

If you have a JR Pass you can reserve a seat for free which I recommend doing if you are travelling Japan in high season. If you probably don’t need to as the train shouldn’t be too busy!

Osaka to Kyoto Train

In terms of what time to leave Osaka to get to Kyoto and what train to take from Osaka to Kyoto, I recommend getting an early morning train as I did, in fact, I wish I had got an even earlier train than 8:10 am!

This is because Kyoto gets very busy, especially in high season so if you want to see the popular Kyoto attractions without many crowds you need to get to them early!

Many people do a day trip to Kyoto from Osaka, Kobe and Nara so you need to get there before them and get to Kyoto’s attractions before the people who are staying overnight in Kyoto do!

If you use your JR Pass for the Osaka to Kyoto train it means it is free to use as it is included in your pass which is why doing a day trip from Osaka to Kyoto is so great and really helps if you are on a budget in Japan as transport for your Kyoto day trip is free!

*Remember you need to get a JR Pass BEFORE arriving in Japan, if you don’t have one yet, you can buy one here on the official Japan Rail Site, and if you’re not sure if you need one, read my JR Pass post here on what the JR Pass is all about!*

The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog Osaka to Kyoto Day Trip

Kyoto Day Tours

If you would rather take an organised day tour from Osaka to Kyoto which means you do not need to organise the train or any of the activities yourself and you’ll have a local guide to give you information about Kyoto, have a look into these day tours!

Or, you could book a ticket for the Kyoto Hop-On Hop-Off Bus here which will make sightseeing in Kyoto in one day much easier!

Things To Do in Kyoto in 1 Day

The main, popular and iconic places to visit in Kyoto, in my opinion, are the Fushimi Inari Shrine and Arashiyama Bamboo Grove and it is possible to visit them with 1 day in Kyoto on your day trip from Osaka to Kyoto!

For more things to see in Kyoto in one day, read this post for my full Kyoto 1 day itinerary!

Fushimi Inari Shrine

Fushimi Inari Shrine is much closer to Kyoto Station, so I decided to go there first and I recommend you do too!

To get to Fushimi Inari Shrine from Kyoto Station, when you get off the train head to the ‘JR Nara Line D’ Train on platforms 8-10. Check the train before you get on as you need to get the local train, not the rapid train as the rapid train does not stop at Inari.

The train from Kyoto Station to Inari Station takes 5 or so minutes and the station exit is across the road from the Temple Entrance so by 9:00 am I was there!

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Fushimi Inari Shrine Torii Gates Kyoto


Stay connected in Japan by ordering a sim card in advance and picking it up at the airport you land in. There a huge range of sim card options in Japan which you can see and buy here!

If you prefer eSIM’s these days, here’s a great option for an eSIM Mobile Data Plan in Japan so you’re connected as soon as you land without the hassle of swapping sims and waiting for connection.


I’m sure you know, or have heard, that the Japan Rail Pass is the best value for getting around Japan!

There are many providers for the JR Pass but this is the official provider and the one I used.

You need to get your JR Pass ordered BEFORE your trip and sent to your home address, so look into buying one here!

Not sure how the JR Pass works and wondering if it will save you money?

Read my JR Pass guide here!

I was really surprised by how long the Torii Gates go on for, they keep going and going! I turned around after about 30 minutes of walking but I could have gone much further. I didn’t expect the pathway to be such an incline either but it is although luckily there are quite a few stopping points on the way.

By 10:00 am I was back down at the base by the Temples and the day tour groups of Kyoto were arriving which made it so much busier and I was so glad I got there at 9:00 am.

The Fushimi Inari Shrine does not shut so technically you can get there as early as you like and the earlier the better.


I then headed to Fushimi Inari Station Railway which is across the across and different to the station I got off at and headed a few stops on the metro North to Gion Shijo.

To use the metro/subway in Kyoto you can either by individual tickets or use a top-up Icoca Card.

The Gion District is Kyoto’s famous Geisha District and an older area of Kyoto. For me, this is what I imaged not only Kyoto to be like but Japan too. Especially after reading the book Memoirs of a Geisha which I read a few years ago and really recommend to you if you haven’t read it.

There’s a river running through the Gion area of Kyoto with small traditional wooden merchant houses lining the streets.

For more things to see in Kyoto in one day, read this post for my full Kyoto 1 day itinerary!

The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog
Gion has beautiful blossom trees in Japan

Kyoto Bamboo Forest

What turned out to be my last stop on my Osaka to Kyoto day trip was Kyoto Bamboo Forest which is actually quite far out of the Centre of Kyoto.

Make sure you get a local train which stops at Saga Arashiyama and not a rapid train as you will miss the stop for the Bamboo Forest!

The Bamboo Forest in Kyoto for me had been really hyped up, especially on Instagram and I’ll say that I was a little disappointed in the fact it’s not actually that big or long like it looks in photos.

And if you’re reading this and have no idea about this forest, I would go as far as saying if you only have one day in Kyoto you don’t need to push yourself to visit here on a Kyoto day trip.

Aside from the line of Bamboo Tree’s though there are lots of temples and there are more green spaces to wander and relax in, it was just way to busy for me in Cherry Blossom season to really enjoy it like this.

For more things to see in Kyoto in one day, read this post for my full Kyoto 1 day itinerary!

The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog
Bamboo Groove in Kyoto

After visiting here I headed back to Saga Arashiyama on the JR line to Kyoto Station and then jumped on another JR train back to Osaka Station at about 16:00 meaning I had a nice full day in Kyoto and most definitely got some serious steps in as well as seeing this beautiful City.


Japan isn’t the cheapest country to travel but you can save money in Japan, here are my budget tips for Japan:

How to Save Money in Japan!

Free Things To Do in Japan!

Save Money with the JR Pass!


Here’s my 2 week Japan itinerary for first time visitors which will help you plan yours and you can adapt it whether you’re in Japan or longer or less time.

Is a Day Trip from Osaka to Kyoto Worth it?

I would say yes! I really enjoyed my Kyoto Day Trip, in fact, I enjoyed Kyoto so much I do wish I had / could have stayed there overnight and if you have time and there is the availability in accommodation online I would recommend staying in Kyoto for at least 1 night and 2 days.

Nice Hostels and Hotels I walked past and can see online have good reviews are:

The Limelight Kyoto

Bird Hostel

Ryokan Gion Hostel

For more accommodation in Kyoto, have a look at here.

But if like me, you only have one day then you should still go for sure. Just be sure to get an early train from Osaka to Kyoto or wherever you’re going from so you can beat the day tourists in your first few Kyoto attractions.

Although Kyoto is an easy city to walk around, I would recommend taking advantage of the public transport to cover bigger chunks of the City so that you can see more in one day and not tire your feet out too much.

To SEE my day trip to Kyoto, watch my Youtube video here:


Clazz - An Orcadian Abroad

Wednesday 2nd of October 2019

Interesting to see that you weren't that bothered about the bamboo forest! I was considering skipping it, and now I think we probably will. There's too much else we want to do in Kyoto that looks a lot better, and I'd rather not have to deal with wannabe-Instagrammers if I'm honest hahaha. Sounds like you got a hell of a lot out of your day in Kyoto though, I was starting to worry that 2 days might be too short!


Wednesday 16th of October 2019

Haha yes I did see a lot in one day, with 2 days you'll be fine! I have seen people go to the Bamboo forest and it be quiet but they get there really early! Like I said I was also there in cherry blossom season which is the busiest time of year, but the forest is much smaller than I thought too and quite far out so staying within the city in 2 days might be best! Enjoy it, it is so gorgeous!