A Comprehensive Guide to Enjoying Kyoto’s Landmark, Kyoto Tower! Discover the Surrounding Sightseeing and Gourmet Spots Information

Kyoto, a city filled with historical charm, boasts a picturesque townscape and a wealth of attractions, including UNESCO World Heritage sites and national treasures. Throughout the year, Kyoto Tower stands as a landmark attracting visitors from both Japan and around the world.

This cylindrical tower, standing at a proud height of 131 meters, was constructed without using any steel frames, inspired by the image of a lighthouse illuminating the streets of Kyoto. Within the tower, you’ll find highlights such as an observation deck, restaurants, and even a large public bath.

In this article, we’ll thoroughly introduce the enjoyment of Kyoto Tower, which has become even more exciting with the opening of the new attraction “Kyoto Tower Sand.”

What’s Kyoto Tower All About?

Located just a stone’s throw away from Kyoto Station, Kyoto Tower stands tall as a landmark in the heart of Kyoto, welcoming tourists to the city. This tower, boasting the title of the world’s tallest structure in the category of “steel-frame-free architecture,” was designed with the image of a lighthouse, illuminating the roofs of traditional townhouses like waves.

From the observation deck at the top of the tower, positioned at a height of 100 meters above ground, you can enjoy a panoramic view of Kyoto city. Within the building beneath the tower, you’ll find restaurants and even a hotel, making it a convenient and attractive spot for both the beginning and end of your journey, thanks to its proximity to the station.

Introducing the History of Kyoto Tower

Kyoto Tower’s origins trace back to the relocation of the Kyoto Central Post Office in 1953, prompting considerations for its construction on the north side of Kyoto Station. With a refined cylindrical design befitting the gateway to Kyoto, the tower officially opened on December 28, 1964. In its 40th year, 2004 marked the birth of the beloved mascot, Tawawa-chan, who continues to charm visitors today.

In 2014, celebrating its 50th anniversary, the tower underwent a renewal with upgraded observation decks and restaurants.

A major transformation occurred in 2019, with a 50-year milestone refurbishment from the tower’s basement 1st to 2nd floors, resulting in the rebranded “Kyoto Tower Sand.” Now, this revamped facility offers not just breathtaking views but also a delightful mix of shopping and gourmet experiences, making it an increasingly popular destination for visitors.

Access Information for Kyoto Tower

Kyoto Tower is a must-visit attraction located just a short walk from JR Kyoto Station. For easy access, it’s recommended to walk from Kyoto Station, which serves various train lines.

Right in front of Kyoto Tower, you’ll find a large bus terminal, providing convenient access to nearby tourist spots.

Train Travel

  • Just a 4-minute walk from the central exit of JR Shinkansen Kyoto Station or a 3-minute walk from the central exit of the local train lines at Kyoto Station.
  • Only a 2-minute walk from Kyoto Municipal Subway Station’s north ticket gate at Kyoto Station.
  • If you’re arriving via Kintetsu Line, it’s an 8-minute stroll from the Kintetsu ticket gate at Kyoto Station.

Access to Kyoto Station from Various Locations

  • Approximately 120 minutes by Shinkansen from JR Kyoto Station.
  • Around 29 minutes by JR Special Rapid Service from JR Osaka Station.
  • About 47 minutes by JR Miyakoji Rapid Service from JR Nara Station.
  • Approximately 51 minutes by express train from JR Sannomiya Station (Kobe).
  • Around 50 minutes by Osaka Airport Limousine Bus from Itami Airport.
  • About 75 minutes by JR Airport Express “Haruka” from Kansai International Airport.

Kyoto Tower Visitor Information

Kyoto Tower is a free-to-enter tourist attraction. However, access to the main observation deck within the facility comes with an admission fee.

To save on observation deck entry, you can use the “Kyoto Tower Observation Deck Discount Coupon,” allowing discounted entry for adults to elementary and middle school students.

Additionally, you can enjoy Kyoto Tower Sand within the Kyoto Tower Building for free. For participation in workshops, make sure to check the costs and timings at each respective shop.

Kyoto Tower

  • Address: 721-1 Higashi Shiokoji-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto City, 600-8216, Japan
  • Map: Google Maps
  • Access: 2 minutes on foot from JR Kyoto Station
  • Phone: 075-361-3215
  • Closed: Open every day
  • Operating Hours: 10:30 AM to 9:00 PM (Last entry at 8:30 PM)
  • Admission Fee: Adults 800 yen, High School Students 650 yen, Elementary/Middle School Students 550 yen, Toddlers (3 years and above) 150 yen
  • Official Website: Kyoto Tower

Exploring the Highlights of Kyoto Tower

At an elevation of 100 meters, Kyoto Tower offers a panoramic view of the city and boasts a variety of gourmet spots. In this blog, I’ll share the delights and attractions of Kyoto Tower based on my own experiences of visiting it multiple times.

Overlooking Kyoto City! Meet Tawawa-chan at the Kyoto Tower Observation Deck

At the top of Kyoto Tower, at a height of 100 meters above ground, you’ll find the “Kyoto Tower Observation Deck.” On clear days, you can enjoy a panoramic view of Kyoto city all around.

The “Touch Panel Tourist Information Monitor” allows you to simply touch the areas you’re interested in, and information about the tourist spots visible from the observation deck will be displayed.

By scanning the QR code displayed on the panel with your smartphone, you can automatically download information about the tourist spots, giving you a sneak peek of the places you’re planning to visit.

The telescopes inside the observation deck are all available for free use. The charm lies in being able to appreciate places not easily visible to the naked eye and getting a clearer view of the tourist spots visible from Kyoto Tower.

Let’s use the telescopes to observe iconic Kyoto attractions like “Kiyomizu-dera,” representing Kyoto, and “Nishi-Hongan-ji,” which houses numerous national treasures within its precincts. On clear days, you may even catch a glimpse of not only Kyoto city but also as far as the Osaka area.

Meet Tawawa-chan, the Official Mascot of Kyoto Tower

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Kyoto Tower, the official character Tawawa-chan was born. Derived from the gentle lights of Kyoto Tower, Tawawa-chan is a beloved character known for her warm and cheerful personality. There are rumors that Tawawa-chan shares the same creator as the popular mascot “Hikonyan.”

You can catch a glimpse of Tawawa-chan at Kyoto Tower on Saturdays and Sundays after 2:00 PM. With her friendly and approachable demeanor, she’s popular not only among families with young children but with everyone.

Don’t miss the chance to capture a photo with Tawawa-chan at the dedicated photo spot anytime you visit.

Within the Kyoto Tower Observation Deck, the “Tawawa-chan Shrine” was established in 2014 and is considered the highest power spot in Kyoto city. This shrine, celebrating various blessings for visitors to Kyoto Tower, has the radiant Tawawa-chan as its sacred object. Additionally, on both sides of Tawawa-chan, you’ll find cute-designed votive tablets.

Next to the shrine, you can purchase exclusive Tawawa-chan ema (votive tablets) and omikuji (fortune-telling slips) available only at Kyoto Tower. Tying the ema with a 5-yen coin and making a wish for good connections is also a delightful tradition to consider.

Discovering Kyoto Tower’s New Attraction – Kyoto Tower Sand

In 2017, Kyoto Tower Sand emerged within Kyoto Tower following a major renovation, marking its first transformation in 50 years. Named with the desire to connect tourists and locals while serving as a link between Kyoto Station and the city, Kyoto Tower Sand spans from B1F to 2F, housing a variety of shops with unique concepts.

Explore the “Food Hall” on B1F, attracting both locals and tourists, the diverse shops in the Kyoto-themed “Market” on 1F, and the cultural experience of “Workshops” on 2F. Each floor offers a different concept, catering to the interests of everyone from locals to sightseers.

Experience Kyoto’s Culinary Delights with a Fun Food Hall Adventure on the Underground 1st Floor. This floor, themed around enjoying a food journey through Kyoto’s gourmet scene, features renowned local eateries and popular establishments from all across Japan. Open for cafe, lunch, and dinner throughout the day, and conveniently located close to the station, it serves as a convenient dining spot for tourists. Inside the food hall, designed like a food court with open seating, you can pick up your ordered items when the buzzer rings.

One standout is ‘Kyoto Senmaru Shakariki Murasaki,’ a ramen shop that gained fame in Kyoto. With both counter and regular seating available, it’s perfect for solo diners too. Their signature dish, the ‘Za’ Ramen priced at 780 yen (tax included), offers a delightful soy-based ramen with rich seafood aromas.

Discover the Charm of Kyoto on the 1st Floor – A Market Filled with Kyoto-Inspired Treasures. This floor, themed around a collection of Kyoto’s traditional sweets, goods, and cosmetics, offers a variety of items capturing the essence of Kyoto. You’ll find a lineup of perfect souvenirs, including the classic ‘Yatsuhashi’ and sweets using matcha, a staple in Kyoto gifts.

The vibrant and eye-catching ‘Kyoto Ame Croche’ is a brand by the well-established candy maker ‘Imanishi Seika,’ with over 140 years of history. Their candies, showcasing meticulous craftsmanship and vibrant coloring techniques inspired by Europe, provide a delightful experience for both the eyes and taste buds. In addition to Kyoto-inspired flavors like matcha and ‘Nikki,’ you can also indulge in unique flavors such as raspberry and jasmine tea-flavored candies.

The 3rd floor of Kyoto Tower Sand is dedicated to interactive workshops that create lasting memories. This area is themed around hands-on experiences, offering a variety of participatory activities. From making traditional Japanese sweets to learning how to prepare sushi or trying your hand at painting on Kyoto’s famous Kiyomizu-yaki pottery, there are ongoing workshops that provide unique experiences not typically encountered in daily life.

For detailed information including workshop fees and duration, please check here.

Experience the Art of Kyoto Confectionery at ‘Shichijo Kanshundo’! Located right in front of Sanjusangendo, this time-honored establishment has been crafting sweets for over 150 years. Now, you can also try your hand at making traditional Japanese confectionery at Kyoto Tower Sand.

For a fee of 2,750 yen, you can participate in the workshop and take home four seasonal wagashi (Japanese sweets). While Japanese sweets are familiar to us locals, the art of making them is not widely known.

Enhance your Kyoto visit by adding a hands-on workshop to your itinerary. It’s a surefire way to deepen your understanding of Japanese culture and grow even fonder of it. Don’t miss this opportunity—give it a try and create lasting memories!

Discover hotels where you can unwind in a gourmet haven with the theme of “Restaurant Hotels.”

Within Kyoto Tower, you’ll find a variety of shops and facilities to explore. Indulge in a delightful dining experience, ranging from seasonal beer terraces to Italian bars with rich stew dishes and buffet restaurants. Among them, “Restaurant Tower Terrace” stands out with its tranquil interior, creating an atmosphere akin to dining in a forest. It offers a diverse range of dishes for you to savor.

Note: “Restaurant Tower Terrace” is temporarily closed for the prevention of the spread of the novel coronavirus.

On weekdays, you can enjoy the “Dinner Buffet” priced at 4,300 yen (tax included), featuring brasserie-style dishes that pair well with wine and beer. The buffet menu changes monthly, incorporating seasonal ingredients and offering exclusive dishes. Additionally, there is an abundance of Kyoto-style sweets such as matcha chiffon and matcha roll cake.

Additionally, the 5th to 9th floors feature a convenient hotel perfect for both leisure and business travelers. Situated just a 2-minute walk from Kyoto Station, this prime location includes popular Kyoto souvenir shops within the building. This allows you to enjoy a delightful shopping experience without straying far.

For those who may find venturing out for shopping during family or friends’ trips a bit daunting, staying here offers the comfort of relaxing in your room while still indulging in a leisurely shopping spree.

Whether you’re traveling solo or with a group, there are spacious rooms available to ensure a comfortable stay. Explore unique concept rooms designed in collaboration with various projects, including limited-time plans for an extraordinary overnight experience. These rooms feature innovative designs not commonly found in other hotels, making them a must-see.

For detailed information on concept rooms, please check the official website‘s latest updates section.

Exploring Kyoto Tower Area’s Must-See Attractions

Exploring the area around Kyoto Tower offers a plethora of tourist spots within walking distance from the central Kyoto Station. From temples with national treasures and important cultural properties within their grounds to expansive Japanese gardens, there’s a diverse range of attractions to visit.

Headquarters of the Jodo Shinshu Otani-ha Sect! Just a Short Walk from the Station – ‘Higashi Honganji Temple’

Located just a 7-minute walk from Kyoto Station, ‘Higashi Honganji Temple’ is renowned as the main temple of the Jodo Shinshu Otani-ha Sect. Nestled within a vast compound, which is hard to believe is in the heart of the city, you’ll find notable structures like the Goei Hall and Amida Hall.

Explore the rich architectural heritage with valuable structures like the grand Goei Gate and the entrance to Amida Hall, which have also influenced local Japanese-style architecture. At the heart of the grounds stands the ‘Goei Hall,’ one of the largest Buddhist halls in the country in terms of width and area. Inside, you’ll find the sacred image of Shinran Shonin.

Adjacent to it is the Amida Hall, and both interiors are open for exploration. Don’t forget to take off your shoes before entering and immerse yourself in the historical charm.

Higashi Honganji Temple

  • Address: 754 Jōmyōchō, Shimogyō-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, 600-8003, Japan
  • Map: [Google Maps]
  • Access: 7-minute walk from JR Kyoto Station
  • Phone: 075-371-9181
  • Closed: Open every day
  • Hours:
    • March 1 to October 31: 5:50 AM to 5:30 PM
    • November 1 to February 29: 6:20 AM to 4:30 PM
  • Admission: Free
  • Official Website: [Higashi Honganji Temple]

Higashi Honganji Temple’s Satellite Grounds! Experience the Four Seasons in the Japanese Garden ‘Shosei-en.‘

Located just an 8-minute walk from Kyoto Station, the Japanese garden ‘Shosei-en’ is nestled within the satellite grounds of Higashi Honganji Temple, which we introduced earlier. This expansive 30,000 square meter garden boasts a rich display of seasonal flowers, earning it the title of the ‘Thirteen Views’ due to its diverse and ever-changing landscapes. Even during peak times, the large garden allows for a leisurely stroll, providing ample space to enjoy the beauty of nature.

In 1641, approximately 10,000 square meters were generously donated by the third shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu, and the garden was meticulously designed by Ishikawa Jozan.

Designated as a national scenic spot in 1936, the garden follows the ‘pond-strolling’ style, with a central pond as its focal point. Take a leisurely walk around the pond, immersing yourself in the seasonal beauty woven by nature.

Shosei-en Garden

  • Address: Shimogyo-ku, Shimodachiuracho, Shichijo-agaru, Matsunokoji-dori, Higashitamamizucho, Kyoto
  • Map: [Google Maps]
  • Access: 10-minute walk from JR Kyoto Station
  • Phone: 075-371-9210
  • Closed: Open every day
  • Hours:
    • March to October: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
    • February, November: 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
  • Admission:
    • Adults: 500 yen
    • High school students and below: 250 yen
  • Official Website: [Shosei-en Garden]

Experience Japan’s Largest Railway Exhibition at the ‘Kyoto Railway Museum

Located a 20-minute walk from Kyoto Station or a 2-minute walk from the bus stop ‘Umekoji Park/Kyoto Railway Museum’ on bus lines 205 and 208, the ‘Kyoto Railway Museum’ awaits. This museum offers interactive exhibits where visitors can see, touch, and experience various aspects of trains, including driving simulators and meticulously recreated interiors of actual operational vehicles. As Japan’s largest railway exhibition, the museum is not only a delight for train enthusiasts but also a fantastic attraction for families with young children.

On the first floor, designated as an Important Cultural Property, the ‘Roundhouse’ houses 20 locomotives that operated during the Meiji to Showa eras. Outdoors at the Steam Locomotive Square, there are events where visitors can ride on vehicles pulled by locomotives emitting steam.

Additionally, there’s a souvenir shop selling railway-themed goods, and the museum boasts exclusive exhibits and facilities that you won’t find anywhere else.

Kyoto Railway Museum

  • Address: Kankiji-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto
  • Map: [Google Maps]
  • Access: 2-minute walk from the bus stop ‘Umekoji Park/Kyoto Railway Museum’ on bus lines 205 and 208 from JR Kyoto Station
  • Phone: 075-314-2996
  • Closed: Wednesdays, year-end and New Year holidays
  • Hours: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM (Last entry at 4:30 PM)
  • Admission:
    • General: 1,500 yen
    • University/High School Students: 1,300 yen
    • Elementary/Middle School Students: 500 yen
    • Preschoolers (3 years and above): 200 yen
  • Official Website: [Kyoto Railway Museum]

Exploring Gourmet Spots around Kyoto Tower

Around Kyoto Tower, you’ll find a diverse range of dining options covering various cuisines.

Savor A4-ranked Ooita beef grilled over charcoal at ‘Sumibi to Wine Kyoto Station Front Store.

Located just a 5-minute walk from Kyoto Station, “Sumibi to Wine Kyoto Station Front Store” is renowned for its charcoal-grilled meats. Indulge in over 70 dishes paired with a selection of more than 16 wines available at all times. The mellow and flavorful meat dishes complement well with the red wines, offering a perfect balance of richness and fruity aromas.

Try the “Ooita Wagyu Red Marbled Special” priced at 1,800 yen, featuring A4-ranked Ooita beef grilled over charcoal. The red marbled meat, with a balanced amount of marbling, releases a juicy and savory flavor with every bite.

Sumibi to Wine Kyoto Station Front Store

  • Address: 241-1 Ame-yacho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto 600-8105, Japan
  • Map: Google Maps
  • Access: 5-minute walk from JR Kyoto Station
  • Phone: 050-5267-2524
  • Closed: Irregular holidays
  • Business Hours:
    • [Mon-Fri] 17:00–23:00 (Last Order: 22:00 / Last Drink Order: 22:30)
    • [Sat-Sun, Holidays] 16:00–23:00 (Last Order: 22:00 / Last Drink Order: 22:30)
  • Budget: ¥3,000–¥3,999
  • Smoking Policy: No smoking allowed throughout the restaurant

Indulge in a matcha parfait at “Saryo Tsujiri Isetan Store,” a cafe crafted by a longstanding tea shop.

Just a 2-minute walk from Kyoto Station on the 6th floor of Isetan, you’ll find “Saryo Tsujiri Isetan Store,” a cafe brought to you by a longstanding tea shop.

This cafe, conveniently located near the station, attracts both locals and tourists alike, making it a perfect spot to take a break during your outing. Established in 1978, this venerable establishment offers carefully selected Uji matcha in its sweets and dishes.

The “Tokusen Tsuji-ri Parfait,” priced at 1,441 yen (tax included), features an abundance of aromatic teas, including Uji matcha, in components like matcha whip and hojicha jelly. The parfait strikes a delightful balance between sweetness, the fragrance of roasted tea, and the subtle bitterness of matcha, ensuring an enjoyable experience from start to finish.

Explore a variety of tea-infused sweets, from the “Tanabata Limited Parfait Orihime-Hikoboshi” to seasonal parfaits, and savor the unique flavors of tea at this charming establishment.

Saryo Tsujiri Isetan Store

  • Address: 6th Floor, Kyoto Isetan, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture
  • Map: Google Maps
  • Access: 2 minutes on foot from Kyoto Station
  • Closed: Irregular holidays
  • Phone Number: 075-352-6622
  • Business Hours: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM (Last Order: 7:30 PM)
  • Budget: [Lunch] 1,000 – 1,999 yen [Dinner] 1,000 – 1,999 yen
  • Smoking Policy: Completely non-smoking
  • Official Website: Saryo Tsujiri Isetan Store

Enjoy Kyoto Tower Sightseeing with a Restaurant on the Observation Deck!

After more than 50 years since its opening, Kyoto Tower continues to be cherished by locals and tourists alike. We introduced the highlights of Kyoto Tower, including breathtaking views befitting the city’s landmark and excellent restaurants. There are various ways to enjoy, so let’s explore Kyoto tourism along with the surrounding sightseeing and gourmet spots.


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