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Kyoto to abolish one-day bus passes to combat tourism overcrowding

By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

It’s hard to overstate just how many amazingly beautiful, culturally significant sites there are in Kyoto. Honestly, they’re spread all over the city, and for years one of the most convenient and budget-friendly ways to make your way from one to the other is with the One-Day Bus Ticket, which gives you unlimited rides on city-run buses in central Kyoto.

The supported routes will get you around to pretty much all the major sites, and the one-day ticket costs just 700 yen for adults, while the standard bus fare is 230 yen per ride in the city center. So you only need to take four rides to come out ahead, which is pretty easy to do if you’re headed to two sightseeing spots, then out to dinner before going back to your hotel for the night. Plus as a pre-paid pass that you just show to the driver, there’s no need to fiddle with yen coins you might not be familiar with every time you’re getting off the bus.

Unfortunately, though, the pass seems to have become too convenient for travelers, and in the process an inconvenience for locals, and so the city government has announced that the Kyoto One-Day Bus Ticket will be abolished.

Kyoto’s main tourism attractions are its shrines and temples. Rather than being remote mountain retreats, many of them are located near the heart of the city, or at least at the edge of the downtown area, growing in stature and importance as a benefit of their proximity to Kyoto’s nobles, merchants, and other residents during the city’s days as the capital of Japan, as well as visits from pilgrims and other olden-days travelers.

The result is that even now, there are often private homes and local businesses in close proximity to what are now world-renowned travel destinations, and some Kyoto residents are finding it unpleasant to commute or go about their daily lives by bus as the vehicles fill up with out-of-town visitors. In a recent interview, one worker at Kyoto Station said that in the morning, the line for the bus whose route includes the stops for Kiyomizu Temple and Yasaka Shrine is often so long that those who join the line at the back might have to wait for three or four busses to come through before there’s enough space for them to get on.


Such crowded conditions aren’t a new problem, as even in 2019 locals were saying that if you were in town during the peak vacation season, there was little point in even trying to get on the bus at Kyoto Station. And though Kyoto One-Day Bus Tickets dipped down to 1.1 million in 2021, compared to 3.29 million in 2019, city officials expect demand to start soaring again now that Japan is pulling out of the pandemic and has lifted inbound international travel restrictions.

This has led to the decision to abolish the One-Day Bus Passes, which the city announced last month. They’ll still be available through the summer, but sales (including pre-sales) will end at the end of September, and the passes will no longer be accepted.

With the One-Day Bus passes going away, the Kyoto government is hoping travelers will instead redirect themselves to the city’s subway network. That idea may or may not pan out, however. While Kyoto’s subway is punctual and clean (as is the norm for a major Japanese city), one of the reasons the One-Day Bus passes have been so popular is that often the nearest bus stop to Kyoto’s major attractions is much closer than the nearest subway station, especially for shrines and temples nestled in the foothills on the outer edge of the city center.


As such, some travelers may continue to make the bus their primary way of getting around the city, even with the increased cost of having to pay for each ride, or opt for the 1,100-yen combined one-day bus and subway pass, which, it appears, will continue to be sold.

Source: City of KyotoZakzak via Otakomu

Insert images: Pakutaso 

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

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© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Take Kyoto off your tourist list

-14 ( +13 / -27 )

Kyoto to abolish one-day bus passes to combat tourism overcrowding

For a city that face bankruptcy they really know how to make tourist happy now.


-10 ( +22 / -32 )

Absolutely stupid idea. Kyoto needs tourists like Donald Trump needs a good lawyer and a Diet Coke.

-5 ( +18 / -23 )

Simply pandering to the local voters. Now the local shopkeepers, restaurant and hotel owners likely have a very difference opinion.

10 ( +19 / -9 )

Kyoto's bus system on a weekend is the embodiment of living hell. Ah the memories: Waiting forever at bus stops with scores of other people standing on the sidewalk in the rain because there's no shelters or benches, while jammed-packed buses go past one after another not stopping. That was enough for us to vow to never go back to that very overrated city again.

And this was about 5 years ago, before the tourism boom.

The authorities need to take the European approach: extensively pedestrianize city's most popular and crowded areas and replace the buses with trams. Simply denying conveniences to visitors and complaining is hardly a solution. But then, Kyotoites are a grumpy and stubborn lot.

12 ( +21 / -9 )

Or they could start running direct busses to their major tourist traps from Kyoto Station. They could still do the one-day pass, but just put all the tourists on separate busses that go directly to those places. Stupid

13 ( +15 / -2 )

A hefty chunk of revenue that Kyoto city receives is from tourism.

Why aren’t there free buses for tourists?

Just show your passport and get on?

Never thought of that I guess…

1 ( +8 / -7 )

Ah the memories

Indeed. Not forgetting the suitcases on a packed bus. Kyoto is lovely and full of history, but the tourist traffic makes it horrid.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

Kyoto needs free or low-cost tourist buses running from the JR station to the main tourist locations. Allowing local buses to be used by citizens.

17 ( +19 / -2 )

Take Kyoto off your tourist list


Kyoto is one of the world's most magical cities.

10 ( +21 / -11 )

Here's an idea. How about introducing loop buses that stops off at the major sights and caters to the needs of the tourists? You could have a loop route that covers the Western side (Kinkakuji, etc) and a loop route that covers the Eastern side (Kiyomizudera, Ginkakuji, etc)

This would kill 2 birds with 1 stone. The tourists could use the loop buses, and this would free up/lower the congestion on the city buses that locals could use.

Hiroshima, Kagoshima, Sendai and other cities already have such a system in place. So I am sure that even the dinosaurs running Kyoto wouldn't have a hard time looking at how their fellow Japanese cities are running such a system.

21 ( +23 / -2 )

Most Tourists who come to japan come to Kyoto. The excuse of stopping overcrowding is a joke. If you want to see the sites you have no choice but to take a bus. Only difference is you have pay a lot more, be complicated with paying cash, and still the same amount of tourist crush.

I also hear they want finish free bus travel for senior citizens.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

Kyoto people are not friendly or polite and the city is grossly overrated imo

-13 ( +12 / -25 )

No doubt Kyoto is a great place to visit. It may be one solution to promote other attractive hidden locations since there are also many other wonderful places in Japan.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

It's amazing how anal they are about the supposed risks of overtourism (I've been there twice and neither time was it really that crowded). They don't produce anything. No major international businesses are choosing to open up any regional offices there. Yet all they seem to do is complain about tourists.

I think the government should just let Kyoto fail and modern developers can build artificial machiya districts in Tokyo.

-14 ( +7 / -21 )

The authorities need to take the European approach: extensively pedestrianize city's most popular and crowded areas and replace the buses with trams. 

This. There are only two left now. They used to crisscross the city. Bring them back and even increase them. [Kyoto has many things to celebrate, but losing its trams isn’t one of them]:


Do what cities have been elsewhere for decades now and begin to reclaim them for the people. It's criminal how the worlds' cities had their souls ripped out and paved over to cater for the motorcar.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I fail to see how this is going to make any difference whatsoever.

Do they think that tourists who have paid massive suns on airfare, hotels, etc are suddenly going to balk at paying an undiscounted 230 Yen bus fare?

9 ( +11 / -2 )

This. There are only two left now. They used to crisscross the city. Bring them back and even increase them. [Kyoto has many things to celebrate, but losing its trams isn’t one of them]:

The issue with trams is that they are subject to the same problems that buses have. Kyoto still has trams like the Randen line that runs to Arashiyama. Its lovely, but it gets insanely crowded and people get left waiting at the stations because they can’t squeeze in. Subways and trains have way more carrying capacity so that rarely happens.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

so, ¥700 option no longer available, but a ¥1,100 is... my guess is that ¥400 isn't going to make a lot of difference.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

It’s hard to overstate just how many amazingly beautiful, culturally significant sites there are in Kyoto.

That sounds like overstating it to me. Only five or six would be "amazingly beautiful". The rest will be beautiful or just quite nice.

As other posters say, they should just run more buses to kinkakuji etc. Make em direct and price them in a way that makes tourists want to ride them, eg passes that only work on tourist buses.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Kyoto - we want tourists.

Kyoto - we don't want tourists.

Make your mind up!

3 ( +11 / -8 )

This is why I took my opportunity during Covid to travel all around Japan. Went to all 4 main islands plus Okinawa over the 3 years. Visited 34/47 prefectures.

Everything is getting so crowded now again but remember we don't even have the Chinese tourists back in force yet. The Japanese government is targeting record numbers of tourists.

Great for those related to the tourism industry but not for those of us who just live here

14 ( +15 / -1 )

Kyoto is indeed a beautiful city. But the residents have some room for improvement. I don't see how changing the bus pass is going to stop overcrowding. A sensible solution would be to promote travel to other gorgeous and nearby areas in Western Japan, such as Nara, Mie, Wakayama etc.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"Unfortunately, though, the pass seems to have become too convenient for travelers, and in the process an inconvenience for locals, and so the city government has announced that the Kyoto One-Day Bus Ticket will be abolished."

Kyoto, the most snobbish and arrogant city in the world, is on the verge of bankruptcy, and after their mayor said "We don't need tourists" pre-Covid, he came BEGGING to bring back tourism only a year ago. Now he's back to his old practices, I see. Well, maybe the city can go bankrupt and we'll see what happens then.

-8 ( +13 / -21 )

Local business wont be happy. If any left are owned by Japanese these days.....

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

I call this BS. What they are doing is that they decided to increase prices and milk the tourists more. That’s what they are doing. And instead of admitting that, they are playing as usual the victim card of the oppressed Japanese by the invasion of foreigners.

-3 ( +9 / -12 )

If the Kyoto authorities had any braincells to rub together, they'd run a tourist bus service on a loop around the top 10-15 attractions and sell one day passes to that.

It immediately removes the bulk of tourists from the normal commuter busses, and the tourists know they can just get on/off right next to their temple of choice.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Kyoto's love-hate with tourism. More than 80% of tourists are domestic ones.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Bus? Use your legs!

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

They don't produce anything. 

Omron, Kyocera, Nintendo, Nidec to name just a few.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

I visited Kyoto four times during six different 5- or 6-week adventures around Japan. I walked everywhere, except to a few slightly out-of-downtown sites, for which my Japan Rail Pass was very handy. So, there's more than one way for a tourist to get around town.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

How about putting on more buses?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

More than 80% of tourists are domestic ones.

The biggest source will be day trippers from Osaka. And yes, people in Kyoto generally look down on them too.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Although Kyoto residents don't like tourism, I have always found them to be very friendly.

I recall reading that Kyoto's train stations were ill-sited due to vested interests, but I can't remember which.

Tourist buses would help, as bus transport in Japan is not as multilingual as the trains. Limit bus use without tourist buses and you will make taxi drivers happy, but one bus of tourists will equate to a lot of extra taxi rides. Lots more carbon monoxide and even more traffic jams. Kyoto's traffic reminded me of central London.

Kyoto would be a great place to switch the buses and taxis to EV only, reducing pollution and the endless traffic noise.

Kyoto is a huge draw for Chinese tourists. I've found the hotels there overpriced and underwhelming, perhaps because they cater primarily to the Chinese. The ones I've been to were baking hot and scented with stale cigarette smoke.

There are some must-see tourist sights in Kyoto but tailor your visit to your own interests. Kinkakuji is well worth seeing, even if you have to file past it in a long queue.

More than anywhere else in Japan, plan your trip to Kyoto and research every part of it. Maybe stay in Osaka near the shinkansen station and book seats early in the morning and late at night, spending the day there. Some places have odd opening hours - arriving as soon as they are opening, on a weekday, gives you the best shot at avoiding crowds. Use taxis to go from A to B. You will squeeze more in. You are paying for time in Kyoto as well as the miles covered. Nara and the deer are also a must.

The Lake Biwa area and Osaka also have lots to offer, so maybe base yourself in the area for a bit and increase your travel budget, but consider day trips for Kyoto. If you only want to visit three or four places in Kyoto, you can take an early shinkansen from Tokyo and return last thing at night.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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