In every major city, there is at least one area dedicated to shopping. When it comes to Japan, these areas are usually found close to stations for easy accessibility and are usually consist of very large buildings. In this article, we will be focusing on the place in Kyoto called Kaearamachi.
Stroll Down Kawaramachi Street, Also Known as Kawaramachi Dori
If one likes shopping, then Shijo Kawaramachi, (written as “四条河原町” in Japanese) found in the Shimogyo ward of the vivacious central area of Kyoto, is the place to go. Although most of Kyoto is caters to traditional design and culture, Shijo Kawaramachi leans more towards its modern side. Otherwise, it looks quite like a glimpse of the modern metropolis of Tokyo, except that there are sporadic temple and shrine locations tucked in next to buildings.
Located on the eastern side of Kyoto, Kawaramachi Street lies parallel to the Kamo River, while Shijo Street runs east to west through the center of the city. There are two large department stores facing each other on the southwest and southeast corners of this intersection.
This area has a train station, as well as a tram stop, which Kumamoto City Tram heads.
The Cross of Two Streets: Shijo Kawaramachi
Shijo Kawaramachi was named simply because it is where the Shijo and Kawaramachi streets intersect.
It is also in this area that many buses stop, giving hundreds of bus routes that go all around Kyoto and Japan. It is also in this area that Takashiya and Kyoto Marui stand.
At the southwest corner sits Takashiyama, and in the southeast corner sits the recently opened Kyoto Marui. Takashiyama is perhaps the more elegant department store in Kyoto, with elegant prices to boot, while Kyoto Marui sells trendy fashion products that cater to the younger market.
All about Kawaramachi Station
The terminal station of the Hankyu Kyoto Line of Hankyu Railway in Kyoto is called the Kawaramachi Station, known to the Japanese as “Kawaramachi eki” (河原町駅). Its address is Shijō-dōri Kawaramachi, Shimogyō, Kyoto, Kyoto – or “京都市下京区四条通河原町”: in Japanese.
Opened in 1963, the Hankyu Corporation operates this station. It uses one island platform to serve one line – the Kyoto Main Line – but works with 3 tracks. Beyond the Kamo, river you’ll find the other station; Gion Shijo station, which supports the Keihan Main Line. This station is part of the JR Pass System.
Places Around Kyoto You Can Go to From Kawaramachi Station
Those 3 tracks lead to many different places. The first one heads for Katsura, Umeda in Osaka, Tatsuki-shi, Kobe, Takarazuka, Kita-Senri, and Arashiayama. The second one is similar, leading to Katsura, Umeda in Osaka, and Takatsuki-shi as well. There are some express trains that head to Umeda, but these are limited. One train is specifically responsible for traveling to Nagaoka-Tenjin. The third and last track leads to the exact same places as the first track.
Traffic in Kawaramachi Station
You would think that, after 15 years, that amount of people who use public transportation would slowly increase. That is not the case for Kawaramachi station. There are many factors that come into play with this, but it is interesting to note.
In the year 2001, around 14,773,000 people passed through this station – but as the years went by, this number dropped. In 2004, that number went to as low as 13,641,000. From that point on, it slowly (but not consistently) rose to up to 15,816,000 people by the year 2008, but dropped dramatically in the next years, going as low as 12,819,000 in 2011. As of 2012, this station saw only 13,454,000 people.
Other Facts About Kawaramachi Station
Within one of Kyoto city’s busiest stations and shopping areas, this Station lies at the heart of Kyoto’s main shopping and tourist area at the intersection of the north-south Kawaramachi Dori and the east-west Shijo Dori.
The Hankyu Department Stores and Takashiyama department stores are linked via underground passageways, the station is a known meeting place for people in Kyoto by indicating outside which department store they wish to meet up. Takashimaya is on the west side of Kawaramachi Dori while Hankyu Department Store is on the east side.
Every year, 14 million passengers go through Kawaramachi station. It connects the center of Kyoto with its Osaka counterpart Umeda. The station also links all the underground department store food halls and basement shopping levels of the large buildings that occupy the four corners.
On top, the stores look out over the intersection of Shijō-dōri and Kawaramachi-dōri, which feature wide, covered shopping district cooperatives extending north and west on either side of the streets.
The Different Shopping Center Choices Near Kawaramachi
The Shijo Kawaramachi intersection is Kyoto's busiest shopping district. Located on the southwest corner of Shijo, the opulent Takashimaya department store is opposite Kyoto Marui department store on the south-east corner. The Koto+ (Koto Cross) mall with predominantly ladies' fashion products lies across Shijo on the north-east corner. Daimaru department store is located a short distance to the west on Shijo’s south side.
First Stop: Takashiyama
Among all of Kyoto's department stores, Takashiyama reigns supreme. It has a great food hall in the basement, a selection of fine restaurants on the seventh floor and imported and Japanese brands like Burberry, Chanel, Shiseido, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Issey, and Miyake. Louis Vuitton.
The Trendy Choice, Kyoto Marui
With six floors with a food hall in the basement, its competitor, Marui’s stores, mainly sell women's and men's fashions.
More Affordable Fuji Daimaru
Fujii Daimaru has seven floors and a food hall in the basement. The younger crowd is, again, the target market here and the department store houses Adidas, Beams, Birkenstock, Comme des Garçons, Crocs, Fred Perry, Katharine Hamnett, Paul Smith, Ugg, Vivienne Westwood and The North Face.
Heading west towards Karasuma Station are the Louis Vuitton and Armani stores. on the eastern side of the Marui department which sits across the Kamo River, the shops are more traditional including traditional Japanese bags, reflecting the area's association with geisha.
Heading north on Kawaramachi route, both sides of the street have awnings that provide shelter from the elements. On the east side of Shijo Kawaramachi, Tsujikura has been around since 1690 and sells beautiful Japanese paper lanterns and umbrellas.
The OPA mall is on the west side of the street specializing in youth fashion and the latest trends. The Mina Kyoto mall is just up north with branches of the popular Uniqlo clothing store, Gu fashion, Godiva chocolates, and Loft.
More Fun Things to Do Near Kawaramachi
Around Kawaramachi are interesting places which are all less than a mile away that you should check out if you find yourself in this area - here is a quick guide.
- For an exciting night out at a club, go to WORLD-KYOTO. It’s rated 4 out of 5 by 17 reviewers on TripAdvisor, with customers commenting about having a great time, even though the area was small. Out of the places to go in the nightlife scene, this club is ranked 11 out of 60. The address of WORLD-KYOTO is 97 Shincho Nishikiyamachidori Shijo-agaru, Shimogyo-ku | Imagium Bldg. BF, 2F, Kyoto 600-8001, Kyoto Prefecture. This place is only 0.1 km away from Kawaramachi Station.
- If you want to see the quainter side of this district of Kyoto, head to Pontocho. It’s a little street that has different izakaya, eateries, and art shops that pay tribute to the classic charm of Kyoto. It is also supposedly enchanting to visit at night, and a pleasant area to walk around, despite some crowding. From the 1,077 reviews, this area is rated a 4 out of 5, and is ranked as 34th out of the 1,236 things to do while in Kyoto. Pontocho is a 0.2 km walk from Kawaramachi Station.
- For high-quality drinks and a unique experience, L’Escamoteur Bar hits second place in the best spots of Kyoto’s nightlife scene. It boasts of a 5-star rating from 169 reviewers on TripAdvisor and lives up to this rating with its cozy interiors, and amazing cocktails. You may have to dig a little deeper into your pockets for the price of these drinks, but it’s worth every yen, as some customers have even hailed this as their favorite bar in the entire world. Le’Escamoteur Bar is located at 138-9 Saisekidori, Shijosagaru, Saitocho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8012, Kyoto Prefecture. It is only 0.2 km away from Kawaramachi Station.
- For something more lighthearted and culturally inclined, Fuuka-Kimono is a shop that sells and rents high-quality yukata and kimonos. Stop by and feel free to purchase some to bring home as special souvenirs for family and friends. The employees manning the shop speak English quite well, and are extremely helpful and friendly. Out of the 26 reviews of this store, it has garnered a 5-star rating. This store is located at 235 Sendocho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8019 Kyoto Prefecture, and is only 0.2 km away from Kawaramachi Station.
Have Delicious Food at Sanjo Kawaramachi
Tired from a day’s worth of shopping? Check out Shinshindo, Sanjo Kawaramachi, which offers some of the tastiest intercontinental-style food. It has a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor, from 180 reviews. Come here for a filling breakfast at a reasonable price, and be sure to try their croissants and baguettes. This café’s address is 4 Nakajimacho, Nakagyo-Ku | 1F Royal Park Hotel Kyoto, Kyoto 604-8004, Kyoto Prefecture.
Hotels near Kawaramachi
There are quite a few hotels in Kawaramachi that you should consider staying in if you visit. These are some notable examples you may want to consider booking.
- Hotel Grand Bach Kyoto Select costs around 12,000 yen per night and is ranked 20th place out of the 380 hotels in Kyoto. Out of 473 reviews, it has a star rating of 4.5 out of 5, and has earned a Certificate of Excellence tag from TripAdvisor. It has free WIFI, breakfast buffet, a restaurant, suites, non-smoking rooms, and air conditioning, and is located in 363 Naramonocho Shijodori Teramachi Nishi Iru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8004, Kyoto Prefecture. It is 0.3 kilometers away from Kawaramachi Station.
- Super Hotel Kyoto Shijokawaramachi costs thereabouts of 16,500 yen a night. It ranks as 72 out of Kyoto’s 380 hotels, with 4 stars out of 5 given by an average of 361 reviewers. It has free wifi and breakfast, as well as a restaurant, air conditioning, laundry service, and more. It is 0.2 kilometers away from Kawaramachi Station.
- Watazen is a ryokan that goes for 18,300 yen a night on a sale – 25,000 yen on a normal day. Being a little farther away from Kawaramachi station at 0.6 kilometers, this ryokan is worth it, as it has a 4.5-star rating given by an average of 297 reviewers. For those who want their lodging to have more of a local, traditional cultural twist, this is a perfect choice.
Where to Get a Map of Kawaramachi
The best map to use when traveling around Japan – no matter what area it is – is google maps. This is because it is quick to update whenever something changes, is more comprehensive, and it also helps you figure out how to get around. There are two areas in Japan that share the name “Kawaramachi”, so google maps can give you the option of seeing both.
A Fragment of Kyoto – But Also of Miyagi, Mie, and Kagawa
Though this area is more popularly known as something that is part of Kyoto’s Shimogyo Prefecture, it is also known as railway stations in Miyagi Prefecture’s Wakabayashi-ku in Sendai, Mie Prefecture's Yokkaichi, and Takamatsu, Japan.