Kyo-Train - Feeling of Kyoto on The Way
(Above images borrowed from sharing-kyoto.com/See-Do/magazine/td008348 , 4/8/20. Love that vintage feel. )
While I was on my last trip to Kyoto, one of the things I really wanted to do was to take the famous Kyo-Train. It's a special service that runs between Osaka and Kyoto. I loved riding it. But I can give you some tips so that you'll have an easier time finding it.
(Images borrowed from facebook.com/wowbox.japan/ , 4/8/20)
What is it that makes the Kyo-Train worth visiting? It's a set of specially designed trains that cost the same as any other train to ride. But on the outside and inside they are decorated perfectly with traditional Japanese flourishes. In fact, if you can manage to do it without disturbing other passengers, you should try visiting each of the carriages, since each is decorated according to a different theme.
Firstly, it only runs on weekends and public holidays since it is a special service. Secondly, only seven services run per day. See this schedule so you can time your visit:
(Taken from the official Kyo-Train website: https://www.japanstation.com/hankyu-new-kyo-train-garaku-tribute-to-old-kyoto/ , 4/8/20)
At last look, the Kyo-Train seems to leave from Umeda Station Level 3 Platform 3, though I recommend verifying this with station staff, or looking at the ground on the platform itself, since Kyo-Train platforms are specially marked with the times that Kyo-Train comes. The Kyo-Train also stops at other stations, as it is Limited Express. These stations are Umeda, Juso, Awaji, Katsura, Karasuma, and Kawaramachi. If you would like to get on to the Kyo-Train in these stations, you will want to ask station staff for help. Bring 400 JPY with you, since this is how much it costs.
Here is the official Kyo-Train Hankyu Website for more details:
Here is an Instagram post I made that includes some of my photos on the Kyo-Train. I was alone, so I wasn't able to take the high quality shots I wanted. But I think you get a sense of what the journey is like.
My feeling is that Kyo-Train is one of those "only in Japan" experiences. Where else in the world could you charge people a normal price to get on to a luxury train between two metropolitan areas and not find it totally trashed? Looking back, I'm amazed at how relaxed I felt there, sitting alone with my things and simply enjoying my surrounds. The colours and decorations didn't feel pretentious to me, as the train seat material was the same sort of pile you'd find anywhere, but decorated with traditional Japanese motifs. I didn't wander about the train, since I didn't want to ruin the serenity with my clamoring and clattering.
Wearing kimono for the occasion really added to the experience. It made me feel like I blended perfectly with the settings. You can get kimono too, through my online store: