Kyoto, Transportation, and the Name "Karasuma"

Few people know that the capital of Japan wasn’t always Tokyo. Before the Meiji restoration, Kyoto was the heart of Kansai and of the country, holding the seat of the Emperor and the thick of business, culture, tradition, and education. Kyoto actually means “capital city”. Although it is no longer the center of attention in Japan, so much of its time in the past spotlight has made it a city rich in history, beauty, and experiences.

Visiting Kyoto is a good idea if you’re a tourist coming to Japan, especially if you have background knowledge about both the prefecture and the city. While you’re in Kyoto, you may hear one name pop up a lot – and that word is “Karasuma”. This is because that name is used for five different services; a central business district, several stations, a subway line, a street, and a hotel.

All About Karasuma Station

Pronounced as “Karasuma-eki”, This location of this station is Shijō-dōri Karasuma Higashi-iru Naginatabokochō, Shimogyō, Kyoto. It was opened in 1963 and takes in a passenger count in the millions. Just in the year 2012, it was estimated to have served 31,479,000 people. Out of all the stations in Kyoto, this is high up on the list of busiest stations. It’s found right under intersection that connects Shiko Street and Karasuma Street. 

Hankyu Corporation operate this train station, with its line being Hankyu Kyoto Main Line. It also has an underground walkway that can lead you to Kawaramachi Station which is somewhat a long walk. There is also another underground walkway will take you to Shijo station (which is very near a bus station), and is a much shorter walk than Kawaramachi.

The establishments above this station include financial institutions, banks, and stores (like the famous department store, Daimaru). The station’s Kyoto Line serves two tracks; one to Kawaramachi, and the other to Umeda and Tengachaya in Osaka, Kita-Senri, Kobe, and Takarazuka.

What to Do Around Karasuma Station

If you find yourself around the area of this station and are thinking of something fun to do, there are many places to go and fun activities to choose from that are nearby. A 5-star rated place with 383 reviews is the Ninja Dojo and Store, where you can get ninja-related souvenirs, clothes, and equipment, and receive real ninjutsu training. Its address is 528 Hakurakutencho, Shimogyo-ku 2f, Kyoto 600-8422 Kyoto Prefecture, and is just .3km away from the Karasuma Station.

Cooking Sun follows suit on the list of highly-recommended places to go, as it offers workshops and lessons on how to make authentic Japanese meals. Take a .7 kilometer trip there, and you’re ready at the door for a delicious learning experience. If you want to participate, head to their address at 679 Funayacho Higashi Nakasuji Matsubara Agaru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8466 Kyoto Prefecture.

If you’re tired of going on foot and want to bike around to see more of Kyoto, head to J-Cycle. Here, you can rent an electric bike that you can take with ease around the city. Its hours are usually from 10 AM to 7 PM. Its address is 570 Torocho, Shimogyo-ku | Higashi no Toin Takatsuji Bldg. B1F, Kyoto 600-8401, Kyoto Prefecture.

Great Hotels Around the Karasuma Station

It is undoubtedly much more convenient for a hotel to be located near a subway station. It provides easy access to everything you might need in the city. If you are looking for a hotel that sits right by the Karasuma Station, here are a few options.

All About Karasuma Kyoto Hotel in Japan

A somewhat popular hotel, Karasuma Kyoto Hotel scores a 4 out of 5 out of 593 reviews on TripAdvisor. The rooms may be compact (as most Japanese hotel rooms are), but it has all the amenities you need – a private bathroom with a tub, toiletries, a refrigerator, free bottle of water, etcetera. Your stay doesn’t come with free breakfast, but it is available to those who are willing to pay extra.

Karasuma Kyoto Hotel is very clean, is well-situated, and comfortable. If you’re looking for a landmark to associate it with, it is right next to Starbucks. If you’re lucky, you can score a room for as low as 5185 yen a night. If you plan to stay a night, book ahead, and then head to Karasuma Shijo, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8412, Kyoto Prefecture.

Other Hotels

Daiwa Roynet Hotel Kyoto Shijo Karasuma is a close rival of Karasuma Kyoto Hotel. Their ratings hit 4.5 out of 5, according to 576 reviews. This hotel offers a touch of class for just a price that’s just a tad bit higher (7436 yen on a good deal). It also has many shopping establishments around it, and the rooms are a bit bigger than your usual hotel.

Another hotel to consider is the Hotel Nikko Princess Kyoto, with a whopping 1,074 reviews on TripAdvisor. Reviews call it a wonderful hotel, with its useful proximity to J-Cycle, large shower space, and takeaway breakfast. Its lobby is remarked to be impressive and is overall considered somewhat an upscale hotel, with a discounted price of 11,884 yen a night. 

Transportation in Kyoto, Japan: Understanding the Karasuma Line

The Japanese call the Karasuma Line “Karasuma-sen”, and write it as “烏丸線”. If you have a map of the different lines that run through Kyoto, it’s obvious that the Kyoto Municipal Subway has only two lines; one is the Tozai line, the other is the Karasuma line. If you see the diagrams of the Kyoto subway, you’ll observe that Tozai is marked with the letter T, colored red, and the Karasuma Line is marked with the letter K and colored green. 

Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau is responsible for operating this line. Kyoto, in total, has 11 wards. Out of those 11, Karasuma Line passes through 7 of them, namely Kita-ku, Sakyo-ku, Nakagayo-ku, Kamigyo-ku, Shimogyu-ku, Fushimi-ku, and Minami-ku. Sakyo-ku (particularly Kokusaikaikan) and Minami-ku (particularly Takeda) are connected through it.

The reason the Karasuma Line was named as such is that it operates right below a street with the same name; Karasuma Street. This run connects the stations Kitaoji and Jujo. Eventually, that train ends up in Karasume Oike, where you can cross over to the other line; the Tozai line. The Karasuma line runs vertically through Kyoto, while Tozai runs horizontally.

In the central business district of Kyoto, the Karasuma Line subways that function under can take you directly to the other lines; the Hankyu Kyoto Line (located right under Shijo Karasuma’s intersection), and the JR line found in Kyoto Station. The station that serves the Hankyu Kyoto Line is called Karasuma Station, whereas “Shijo” is the name of the station that is found at Shijo Karasuma. Both stations are quite close to each other but lead to different paths. 

Fast Facts about the Karasuma Line

This line is a rapid transit type. Its termini are Kokusaikaikan and Takeda. It was opened to the public on the 29th of May 1981 and was (and still is) operated by the Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau. Its depot is Takeda and has a rolling stock of 10 series EMU’s. The trains of the Karasuma Line make many stops; around 15 of them, stretching along a 13.7-kilometer distance, going at a speed of 75 kilometers per hour. The trains they use include the Kintetsu 3200 series and the Kintetsu 3220 series. 

The History of the Karasuma Line

The entire Karasuma line was not completed in one go; it took 19 years to complete the route it takes today. When the line began, it was first between Kyoto and Kitaoji. By June 11, 1988, they added another extension that was headed towards Takeda. On the 28th of August 1988, it was connected to Shin-Tanabe on the Kyoto Line via Kitaoji. 

Kitayama was then added to the list of extensions on Kitaoji by October 24, 1990. What is now known as Karasuma Oike station was once just known as “Oike station”. The change of name happened on May 22, 1997, as the Tozai Line was just about to be inaugurated, connecting to Karasuma Line. By the 3rd of June in 1997, the Kitayama to Kokusaikaikan route was added. Finally, on March 15, 2000, express services were offered, connecting Kokusaikaikan to Kintetsu Nara. 

Karasuma Oike Station

This station exists mainly to transfer passengers from the Karasuma Line to the Tozai Line, but also (on the Karusama Line) for the Kyoto, Kintetsu Kyoto Line and Takeda, along with the Imadegawa, Kitaoji, and Kokusaikaikan lines, and others. It is found in Nakagyo-ku and has the station codes K08, and T13. 

It opened in 1981, started service to the Kintetsu Kyoto Line on August 28, 1988, got renamed in 1997. In 2007, the PiTaPa (smart card and ticketing) was installed in this station. By 2008, this station offered round-trip rail services to Keihan Railway Keishin. Around the Oike station, you’ll find the Kyoto International Manga Museum, the Adachi Hospital, Nichicon Corporation, and the Museum of Kyoto. 

Cruise Down Karasuma Street

Karasuma street, called “Karasuma Dori” in Japanese, and written in Japanese as “烏丸通” is one of Kyoto’s major streets that cut through the city. It passes by many prominent establishments, one of which is the Higashi Honganji, which is a Shin Buddhist Temple, and head temple in Kyoto. It is right in front of Higashi Honganji that the road of Karasuma Street curves. There are two national routes that are a part of this street; National Route 367, and Nationa Route 24. 

Karasuma, The Name

Aside from being the name of different stations, a street, and a subway line, Karasuma is also a surname. It is, in fact, the surname of a model and actress who had her first break in the 80’s by acting as a Clarion Girl. Her full name is Setsuko Karasuma. She later went to pose in more provocative outfits and styles after being a Clarion Girl. She then starred in a film called Four Seasons, where she seized the lead role. Ever since then, she starred in 20 more productions.

Another famous entity who holds the name Karasuma is Tadaomi Karasuma; a fictional character in an anime and manga called Assassination Classroom. In the series, he is 28 years old and worked as an Air Force Elite Soldier/Trainee Instructor before he became a P.E. teacher.

He would become the Chief Intelligence at Ministry of Defense 7 years into the future of the plot. He is known for his kindness, that comes with a firmness as well. Though he is perceived as cool, he doesn’t let his students get too close to him

Getting To Know Kyoto More

Karasuma is just one simple name, but it represents so much when it comes to the transportation of Kyoto, which is a prefecture and a city worth it to pass by. It doesn’t matter if you’re a child, studying in a university, or are retired from work; you’ll surely love Kyoto and its many places that so happen to be named Karasuma.