The Karasuma Line is one of two subway lines operated by Kyoto Municipal Subway. The line runs north to south between Kokusaikaikan Station and Takeda Station. It is called the Karasuma Line because for much of the way it runs beneath Karasuma Street. At Karasuma Oike Station it connects with the other subway line, the Tozai Line, which runs east to west.
The Karasuma Line is very useful for getting from Kyoto Station into the center of the city. At Shijo Station you can transfer to the Hankyu Line which will get you to the shopping district around Kawaramachi. Alternatively, transferring to the Tozai Line at Karasuma Oike allows you to access the Higashiyama sightseeing district.
There are 15 stations on the Karasuma Subway Line. They are all numbered with the letter K. The following are the stations you are most likely to visit running north to south.
K01 Kokusaikaikan Station
This is the northernmost station on the Karasuma Line. Exit here for the Grand Prince Hotel, Kyoto International Conference Center and the northern entrance to Takaragaike Park.
K02 Matsugasaki Station
Exit here for the southern entrance to Takaragaike Park. The Eizan Line’s Shugakuin Station is a ten minute walk east of this station.
K03 Kitayama Station
Exit here for Kyoto Botanical Garden, Kyoto Concert Hall and Notre Dame University.
K04 Kitaoij Station
Exit here for Kitaoji Bus Terminal, Kitaoji Vivre department store, Otani University and the Daitokuji Temple complex. Daitokuji is considered one of the five great Zen temples in Kyoto and consists of 22 subtemples, four of which are open to the public. These are famous for their contemplative rock gardens.
K06 Imadegawa Station
Exit here for the northern entrance to Gosho Imperial Palace Park, Doshisha University, and Shokokuji Temple, another one of the five great Zen temples of Kyoto.
K07 Marutamachi Station
Exit here for the southern entrance to Gosho Imperial Palace Park.
K08 Karasuma Oike Station
This station lies under the intersection of Karasuma Street and Oike Street. Exit here for The Museum of Kyoto, and Kyoto International Manga Museum. Transfer here to the Tozai Subway Line.
K09 Shijo Station
This station is convenient for the financial district around Shijo and Karasuma. Daimaru department store is within easy walking distance. It also has direct underground access to the Hankyu Kyoto Main Line at Karasuma Station.
K11 Kyoto Station
Kyoto’s gateway, this is the major transportation hub in Kyoto. Exit here for Kyoto Bus Station, Kyoto Tower, Higashi Hongan-ji Temple, and the Hotel Granvia. The area around Kyoto Station is also a thriving shopping district with Isetan Department Store, Kyoto Yodobashi and Bic Camera among the major stores in the vicinity.
Passengers here can transfer to JR West for lines to Osaka, Kobe, Nara and Arashiyma, to the Kintetsu Kyoto Line for Nara and to the Tokaido Shinakansen for Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo.
K15 Takeda Station
This is the southernmost station on the Karasuma Line. Passengers here can transfer to the Kintetsu Kyoto Line for access to Nara.
The Japan Rail Pass does not cover the Kyoto Municipal Subway however discount passes are available. These are as follows:
The Kyoto Municipal Subway One-day Pass gives unlimited travel on the Karasuma and Tozai subway lines. It is priced at 600 yen for adults and 300 yen for children.
Kyoto Subway & Bus One-Day and Two-Day Passes are available that cover Kyoto City Buses and Kyoto Municipal Subway. Some sections of Kyoto Bus and Keihan Bus routes are also covered by these passes. The one-day pass is priced at 900 yen for adults and 450 yen for children. The two-day pass is priced at 1,700 yen for adults and 850 yen for children.
The Traffica Kyoto Card is a prepaid card you can buy for 1000 yen for children and 3000 yen for adults. It gives a 10% discount when riding Kyoto City Buses and the Kyoto Municipal Subway. This is available from Kyoto City Bus and Subway vending machines and ticket offices.
Visitors from overseas can also get a Kansai Thru Pass (also called the Surutto Kansai Pass) for two or three days. This covers not only the Kyoto Municipal Subway Line but many of the private railways, buses and subway systems in Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara and Shiga. This pass cannot be used on JR Railways however. Visit the Kansai Thru Pass website to find out more.
To get the big picture, you can download a free route map of Kyoto’s complete train and subway system.
Station maps and timetables are available at the Arukumachi Kyoto website. To find train and transfer times quickly and easily it is best to use an English language online route finder like Jorudan or Hyperdia.
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.