Kyoto station, a Japanese architectural gem 京都駅の建築
Kyoto station, a modern gateway to the city
Kyoto Station is often the gateway for a trip to Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan. This huge glass building, modern and versatile, is one of the emblems of the city and, in addition to trains, stores, restaurants, hotels, and even a garden. The station and the entire district that surrounds it constitute a dynamic and important center in the heart of the city.
Exceptional Japanese architecture
To celebrate its 1,200th anniversary in 1997, Kyoto inaugurated this temple of glass and steel, a railway sanctuary designed by the architect Hiroshi Hara (1936-2007). As soon as you arrive at the central station, monumental and contemporary, the images are blurred. A gigantic complex, architectural curiosity, it welcomes, apart from a crowd of passengers, restaurants, department stores, and the international center of Kyoto prefecture.
Of the 238,000 square meters of the station, the railway facilities occupy around 12,000 square meters. The Kyoto Central Station building is, after Nagoya, the second largest in the country. The very impressive building is 70 meters high and has 15 floors. Its large main atrium does not leave you indifferent, with its all-glass and steel ceiling.
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The Kyoto station building, which is huge, has a lot of shops and restaurants, which is very common in Japan. On the floors, we discover shopping centers (the Isetan department store in particular), but also a theater, a hotel, the EKI museum (a gallery of temporary works) as well as the main tourist office of Kyoto.
On the 7th floor of the station, near the Isetan department store, you will come across the EKI museum ("eki " means "station"). Opened in 1997, this small gallery hosts exhibitions on various themes, from photography to industrial art, including animation and fashion.
Open from 10 am to 8 pm, closed on exhibition preparation days and according to the JR Kyoto Isetan calendar. Price: varies according to the exhibitions offered. More information here.
Kyoto station also conceals its little secrets, ready to be revealed to those who wish to discover. After having climbed the large escalator heading west, the curious will discover the large staircase (the daikaidan) which begins on the 4th floor. It is at this level that a stage is installed for concerts or dance demonstrations. The staircase continues up to the 15th floor, where there is a refreshing open-air garden, the "Sky Garden".
From there, leads the "Skyway tunnel", a long glass and steel tube that connects the west to the east wing rewarding you with a beautiful view of the city and its mountains, day and night.
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A little history of Kyoto station
Kyoto's very first station was inaugurated in 1877 by a decree of Emperor Meiji (1852-2912). In 1889, the station was integrated into the main section of the railway connecting the modern capital Tokyo to Kyoto, which led to its attachment to the private lines Nara LIne and Sagano Line.
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The Kyoto station was renovated for the first time in a style inspired by the Renaissance, in 1914. Destroyed in a fire in 1950, it rose from its ashes in 1952, in its modern form. It will then take on its futuristic look that we now know it, thanks to the imagination of architect Hiroshi Hara, to whom we also owe the Umeda Sky Building in Osaka. The underground infrastructures date back to the opening of the city's metro in 1981.
Train and transport lines at Kyoto station
The building is large, and the organization of the train lines is arranged in four distinct spaces.
The shinkansens area on the South or Hachijo side: the hall and the main entrance to 2F serve the platforms which are located at 3F. Departures for Tokyo and Nagoya are from platforms 11 and 12, departures for Shin-Osaka, Hiroshima, and Hakata (Fukuoka) from platforms 13 and 14.
The platforms for the JR lines are on the ground floor. The main entrance is to the north (Karasuma side) and provides direct access to platforms 0, 30, 31, 32, 33. To reach platforms 2 to 10, you have to take the footbridge.
Kintetsu Station and its four platforms are located in front of the main entrance to the Shinkansen Hall on the Hachijo side. The Kintetsu lines connect with Nara and Ise from Kyoto but are not accessible with the Japan Rail Pass.
The Karasuma line metro station is located in the basement and is well signposted (follow signs for "Subway").
Finally, a large bus station is located just in front of the station. A large number of city buses depart, arrive, or pass-through this station, serving as Kyoto's main hub.