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Complete Guide to Kyoto Tower: Great Food, Shopping, and Hotel In Japan's  Culture Center!

Complete Guide to Kyoto Tower: Great Food, Shopping, and Hotel In Japan's Culture Center!

Date published: 27 January 2021
Last updated: 25 February 2021

Right in front of JR Kyoto Station is Kyoto Tower. Standing at 131 meters tall, Kyoto Tower is not just for you to admire from the outside – there's so much you can do inside too! From the beautiful scenery from the observation deck, to gourmet food and shopping, there's even a hotel and public bath!

Kyoto conjures up images of temples and shrines, but it's recommended to start your trip from here instead. While mingling with both tourists and locals, enjoy a fulfilling day here at this Kyoto icon, with ample measures in place against Covid-19.

Table of Contents
  1. Fifth-Floor Observation Deck: Enjoy the panoramic view from Kyoto Tower's observatory deck first!
  2. Tower Terrace: Get great gourmet food!
  3. Bathhouse ~YUU~: Relax in a unique Kyoto public bath!
  4. Kyoto Tower Hotel (fifth to ninth floor): Excellent access, built at the entranceway to Kyoto!
  5. Kyoto Tower Sando Part 1 (second floor): Let's experience Japanese culture!
  6. Kyoto Tower Sando Part 2 (first floor and first basement level): Pick souvenirs and enjoy some beverages!

Fifth-Floor Observation Deck: Enjoy the panoramic view from Kyoto Tower's observatory deck first!

Fifth-Floor Observation Deck: Enjoy the panoramic view from Kyoto Tower's observatory deck first!

JR Kyoto Station, which is also a stop along the Tokaido Shinkansen. Once you exit from the Central Exit (Karasuma Exit) that is thronged with people, right before your eyes will be Kyoto Tower. As it's just a two-minute walk away from the station, there is excellent access there without any risk of getting lost.

The elegant white and slim structure of Kyoto Tower was built with the motif of a lighthouse. Compared to other skyscrapers and towers built in Japan in recent years, it may not seem very tall.

Still, in the streets of Kyoto, which has a height limit on buildings, it's one of the tallest structures around! This tower building has shops, a hotel, and even a bathhouse, stretching from the third basement level to the eleventh.

On top of that, there is an observatory, spanning floors three to five of the observation deck, a unique construction element.

First, take the elevator up to the entrance of the observation deck, on the eleventh floor. At the ticket sales counter, there is a vending machine on the left that accepts cash only, and there is a manned counter on the right which accepts cashless payments (some payment methods via QR code are available).

Admission: 800 yen for adults, 650 yen for high school students, 550 yen for elementary and middle school students, and 150 yen for toddlers above three years old (all with tax)

From here, take the special elevator that goes straight to the observation deck's fifth floor. Inside the elevator, you can enjoy a special video featuring the mascot character, Tawawa-chan.

On the observation deck's fifth floor are binoculars that are free to use, and you can feel just how close popular sightseeing spots such as Kiyomizu-dera Temple are! A panoramic view of Kyoto's streets is, of course, a given., but on especially clear days, you can even see Osaka.

Close to Kyoto Station, you can see Higashi-Honganji Temple

There are eight "Touch Panel-style Tourist Information Monitors" introducing sightseeing facilities that can be seen from the observation deck, as well as access to these places. On top of this, the "Moving QR Code", which sends more detailed information to your smartphone, has received great reviews as well. As English and Korean support are available as well, please thoroughly enjoy this world 100 meters above the ground.

You can see the streets of Kyoto bathed in orange light at sunset. As night gradually falls, buildings and cars light up at the same time, and you can see the special moment as the scenery shifts to a beautiful night view. And with that, the observation deck at night turns into a place almost like one out of a fantasy!

*From January 2021, opening hours have been shortened (11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., last entry at 6:30 p.m.)

By the way, though it is currently closed, on the third floor of the observation deck, there is a classy and elegant sky lounge, called "-KUU-". With chic lighting throughout the shop, starting from two types of counter seats, to couple seats and table seats, seatings for various scenes are spread throughout this space. Let's await its reopening, when we can once again enjoy days of seeing the night view of Kyoto through the glass.

In 2004, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Kyoto Tower's opening, the mascot character Tawawa-chan was created. Ten years after that, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Tower, a Tawawachan-Jinja shrine was created with the motif of the beloved mascot. This shrine on the fifth floor of the observation deck is the highest shrine in Kyoto, standing at 100 meters above ground level. To pray for a smooth holiday in Kyoto, let's do it at the adorable Tawawachan-Jinja shrine.

Beside the Tawawachan-Jinja shrine, are Tawawachan-Ema, which have wishes written on them, and Tawamikuji fortune slips tied there

Tawawa-chan's omikuji fortune slips, called Tawamikuji, are 100 yen each, and Tawawachan-ema boards with Tawawa-chan's face on them, are only available here.

It's an excellent fit if you write "I wish for good fortune", and offer a five-yen coin (pronounced as "go-en" in Japanese, it is homophonic with the word for "fate" or "fortune") as an offering.

The Tawawachan-ema boards with wishes on them and Tawamikuji fortune slips left here are brought to Shimogamo Jinja shrine to be prayed for and cleansed. A portion of the proceeds from here is also donated to the Tadasu-no-Mori, a world heritage site of Shimogamo Jinja, to protect the environment.

Countermeasures against Covid-19
Indoor disinfection measures taken / Sanitizer installed / Plastic partitions installed / Staff wear masks, gargle, wash hands regularly, and monitor body temperature / Guests who are feeling unwell are not allowed entry / Guests are required to wear masks and have their temperatures taken

  • Kyoto Tower
    京都タワー
    • Address 721-1 Higashishiokojicho Shichijo-sagaru Karasuma-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, 600-8216
    • Nearest Station ■From JR Kyoto Station, exit from the Central Exit , and walk for about two minutes.

      ■From the Shinkansen Central Exit: 140 minutes by shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto, 15 minutes from Osaka to Kyoto, 35 minutes from Nagoya to Kyoto
      ・Once you exit from the fare gate of the Shinkansen Central Exit, you'll see the platform for the Kintetsu line right in front of you. From there, head to the right.
      ・Go up the escalator, and walk straight.
      ・As you continue walking straight, you'll see the department store Isetan. Continue walking with Isetan on your left, and go down the escalator.
      ・Once you go down the escalator, cut diagonally right and you can see the lighthouse-shaped Kyoto Tower! Make a beeline for Kyoto Tower from there.
      *If you are coming from other local lines, exit from the West Fare Gate and turn right.
      *Accessible directly from Kyoto Station via an underground passage (access from the underground is closed from 11:00 p.m. to 11:00 a.m.).
      *No parking is available (please use public transport or parking lots in the surrounding area).
    • Opening hours: 9:00 a.m. to 9:20 p.m. (last entry at 9:00 p.m.)
      *From January 2021, opening hours are shortened, from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (last entry at 6:30 p.m.)
      Observation deck admission: 800 yen for adults, 650 yen for high school students, 550 yen for elementary and middle school students, and 150 yen for toddlers above three years old (all with tax)
      Open daily
      Access: Two-minute walk from JR Kyoto Station Central Exit
      Phone number: 075-361-3215 (available from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekdays)

Tower Terrace: Get great gourmet food!

Tower Terrace: Get great gourmet food!

After enjoying ourselves seeing the panorama from the observation deck, we head to the tower building underneath.

At the Tower Terrace on the third floor, is a cozy restaurant where you can enjoy the day by the windows. The shop interior is designed with the image of forests in mind, and you can catch a view of JR Kyoto Station while relaxing there too.

Countermeasures against Covid-19
Disinfection of shop interior and surfaces / Sanitizer installed / Disinfection between customer rotations / Regular ventilation of the shop / Limited capacity/increased space between seats / Plastic partitions installed / Staff wear masks, gargle, wash hands regularly, and monitor body temperature / Entry declined to anyone who is feeling unwell / Guests are required to wear masks and have temperatures taken

  • Tower Terrace
    タワーテラス
    • Address 721-1 Higashishiokojicho Shichijo-sagaru Karasuma-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, 600-8216
    • Nearest Station 2-minute walk from JR Kyoto Chuo Exit
    • Phone number: 075-371-3370 (restaurant reservations from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.)
      Opening hours: 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (maximum 120 minutes stay, last admission at 3:00 p.m.)
      *From January 2021, only open on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays.
      *Regular buffet will be closed, and food will be served via wagon service by staff and order-buffet style. (Restaurant hours and operation style may change as the situation evolves)

Bathhouse ~YUU~: Relax in a unique Kyoto public bath!

Bathhouse ~YUU~: Relax in a unique Kyoto public bath!

At Kyoto Tower, where there are many ways to enjoy yourself, there's even a public bathhouse on the third basement level! If you've been to the observation deck, you'll receive a coupon for the bath, so do experience the baths for yourself.

The bathhouse ~YUU~ is built to be wide and spacious, and is a well-known spot amongst visitors of Kyoto! The baths for males have murals featuring the Daimonji bonfires and Kyoto Tower floating like shadow pictures, allowing you to enjoy the sights of Kyoto while enjoying the baths. The baths for the ladies have separators between each person at the bathing area, providing a little more privacy.

Countermeasures against Covid-19
Interiors are disinfected / Sanitizer installed / Plastic partitions installed / Staff wear masks, gargle, wash hands regularly, and monitor body temperature / Entry declined to anyone who is feeling unwell / Guests are required to wear masks and have temperatures taken

  • Bathhouse ~YUU~
    大浴場~YUU~
    • Address 721-1 Higashishiokojicho Shichijo-sagaru Karasuma-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, 600-8216
    • Nearest Station Access: 2-minute walk from JR Kyoto Chuo Exit
    • Phone number: 075-361-3215 (available from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)
      Opening hours: Currently from 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. (last entry at 8:30 p.m.)
      Admission: Adults - 770 yen on weekdays, 910 yen on weekends and public holidays; children - 450 yen on all days, above two years old and below elementary school age (all with tax)
      Caution: People with tattoos, drunks, people with relations to violent groups, and those who are required to use diapers regardless of age are not allowed to enter.
      Open daily

Kyoto Tower Hotel (fifth to ninth floor): Excellent access, built at the entranceway to Kyoto!

Kyoto Tower Hotel (fifth to ninth floor): Excellent access, built at the entranceway to Kyoto!

Kyoto Tower Hotel is built directly underneath the symbol of Kyoto, Kyoto Tower. The front desk is accessible via elevator, on the 8th floor.

You can self check-in using these touch panels too!
The lobby has a calm and relaxing atmosphere
Superior twin room

The rooms are a modern mix of traditional Japanese and Western styles, and it's very well suited for passing the days by in. Depending on the room type, between one to seven people can stay there, and rooms for business travelers to family travelers are available. Besides this, on the eighth floor is a Tawawa-chan Room, which has many cute Tawawa-chan themed items.

Breakfast is served in a casual box-style. You can enjoy it in your room. (The photo shows one type.)
*Though there is normally a buffet-style breakfast at the Tower Terrace, from January 2021, breakfast is served in a box style that can be enjoyed in your room. (Further changes may be made in the future.)

Kyoto Tower Hotel countermeasures against Covid-19
Indoor disinfection measures taken / Sanitizer installed / Disinfection between guests / Ventilation measures taken / Plastic partitions installed / Staff wear masks, gargle, wash hands regularly, and monitor body temperature / Limits on the number of people allowed to enter / Entry declined to anyone who is feeling unwell / Guests are required to wear masks and have temperatures taken / Restrictions on room service where staff have to enter rooms / Automatic self-check-in, without staff contact

  • Kyoto Tower Hotel
    • Address Shimogyo-ku Shichijo-sagaru Karasuma-dori , Kyoto, Kyoto, 600-8216
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Kyoto Station (JR Tokaido Line / JR Biwako Line / JR Tokaido Shinkansen / JR Kyoto Line / JR Sagano Line / JR San-in Line / JR Nara Line / Karasuma Line / Kintetsu-kyoto Line)
      7 minutes on foot

    Vacancy search, reservation

    Check with our partner site as the latest rates, rate details, and guest room requirements may vary.

Kyoto Tower Sando Part 1 (second floor): Let's experience Japanese culture!

Kyoto Tower Sando Part 1 (second floor): Let's experience Japanese culture!

After checking out from the hotel, we headed to Kyoto Tower Sando, from the first basement level to the second floor. Here, you can eat, shop, and experience, enjoying yourself at the various facilities here. First, let's pop in at the workshop on the second floor!

Shichijōkanshundō is a Japanese sweets shop from Kyoto with a long history stretching back to 1865, and they're holding a Japanese sweets making workshop now! Making use of simple techniques and tools to make Japanese sweets, it's simple even for beginners and foreign visitors. The sweets which you make can be eaten together with some matcha tea.

■Kyogashi sweets making workshop
Fees: 2,750 yen (with tax)
Contents: 4 raw sweets (out of three types, one type will be made twice), and one dried sweet
Reservations: Until 12:00 p.m. the day before
Time slots: a. 10:00 a.m., b. 1:00 p.m., c. 3:00 p.m., d. 5:00 p.m.
Time needed: about 90 minutes
*Children below elementary school age must be accompanied by an adult
*If there are vacancies, same-day reservations are allowed
Phone number: 075-371-0801
Web reservations available here:
http://airrsv.net/7jyo-kansyundo/calendar

"Let's make it quickly," says the shop owner Mr. Ōta. As we fold mochi powder into the white bean filling, let's start making the "Nerikiri", a Japanese style sweet, also called wagashi!

Using both hands, gently wrap it up.

Using a tool called a "hera", create the sweet.

The raw sweet for December, called "Sazanka", is completed!

When we visited the shop in December, sweets available included a cute Santa Claus and the Sazanka, and a Christmas tree made using chestnut paste, along with other Japanese style sweets that incorporate designs of the current seasons. The seasonal sweets available change each month, so there'll definitely be something new to discover each visit!

You get to try making five wagashi sweets. You can challenge yourself to make raw wagashi, where you can make three types with a total of four pieces (one type is made twice), and a small dry sweet too.

The dry sweet is a type of wagashi which uses sugar to dry it out. You can enjoy the difference between raw and dry wagashi too. Out of the raw sweets you've made, you can choose one to try with matcha tea, and you can bring the rest home. Do try out this special experience where you can feel the seasons in Japan!

Besides this, the "Sushi Seminar" held by sushi chefs on the same floor, and the "Traditional Craft Experience" where you can try painting craft pieces, are popular workshops too.

Kyoto Tower Sando Part 2 (first floor and first basement level): Pick souvenirs and enjoy some beverages!

Kyoto Tower Sando Part 2 (first floor and first basement level):  Pick souvenirs and enjoy some beverages!

On the first floor of Kyoto Tower Sando, is a market where exclusive products from Kyoto are lined up for sale! Be it sweets, miscellaneous goods, and alcohol, you can have fun picking and choosing them.

Kyoto Rokukakukan Sakura-dō is a brand of make-up brushes that has received rave reviews from actresses and models.

Made carefully by master craftsmen from Kumano in Hiroshima Prefecture, there are over 150 types available, from powder brushes and face washing brushes, to lip brushes and more!

The main shop is near Shijō-Karasuma and Rokukaku-dōri, but you can buy it from here too, right in front of Kyoto Station.

The soft brushes are made of 100% pure natural wool

The "Kessho Hana Hitsu Ayari", which went on sale in November 2020, which costs 7,700 yen, has vivid colors in the same manner as the Olympic rings!

"We hope that the Olympics can go on in 2021," says the shop owner, Mr. Konishi. In contrast to the bright five colors of this brush, is the chic black and white "Kessho Hana Hitsu Modern", which costs 5,500 yen, which is popular as well.

Left: Kessho Hitsu sui Koroko (7,700 yen); Right: Kessho Hitsu sui Face Brush (6,600 yen)

With the meanings of "vibrance" and "connecting" in mind, the "sui" series has a checkerboard pattern, considered a lucky pattern, and with gold and silver leaf along the brush handles, it's absolutely gorgeous. As they come with their own original wooden box, we recommend it as a great present for someone important to you.

"Fan-shaped Powder Brush", which costs 3,410 yen, an excellent product that can be used for lymphatic massages too!

One of the advantages of using natural hairs is that the more you use it, the more familiar it becomes with your skin, allowing you to use it for extended periods of time. At the very least, they can last five to six years, and there are even fans who have used it lovingly for over fifteen years.

From caring for the brushes at home to hair quality, for those who are buying brushes for the first time, you can get advice from the staff, and explanation pamphlets in English are available as well.

*All prices include tax

Finally, let's go take a look at the first basement level. Roughly seventeen stalls are arranged in a free-style food hall, along with two restaurants, allowing for a spacious area where you can also enjoy tea and other refreshing drinks with your lunch.

KYOTO TOWER SANDO Bar is created with the image of a Kyoto-style cafe-bar, and it's easy to pass time there on your own as well. It's a great place to down a quick drink while enjoying your time sightseeing and shopping.

When speaking of Kyoto, sake is definitely on the list! If you're lost as to what to try, we recommend trying the "Kiki Sake Set", which starts from 1,100 yen, which serves three out of twenty eight types of sake from the shop's cellar, including junmaishu, ginjoshu, and daiginjo, and the variety changes every day.

As for glass wines, you can experience the luxury of their rich smell. From 500 yen, you can pick a wine of your choice from three types available for a shot, or try several different types like the Kiki Sake Set too. For food, the anchovy potato salad, for 410 yen, and roast beef, for 720 yen, are popular.

There is also Tanba wine and craft beer available, along with a 45-centimeter tall glass, called the "Tower Beer", for 1000 yen, where you can pick an alcohol of your choice to fill it up with, for a fun and exciting lineup! Matcha lattes and other soft drinks are available too.

*All prices are tax inclusive.

Countermeasures against Covid-19 at Kyoto Tower Sando
Indoor disinfection measures taken / Sanitizer installed / Removal of several public rest spaces / Ventilation measures taken / Plastic partitions installed / Staff wear masks, gargle, wash hands regularly, and monitor body temperature / Limited capacity/increased space between seats / Entry declined to anyone who is feeling unwell / Guests are required to wear masks

  • KYOTO TOWER SANDO
    京都タワーサンド
    • Address 721-1 Higashishiokojicho Shichijo-sagaru Karasuma-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, 600-8216
    • Nearest Station Three-minute walk from JR Kyoto Station Central Exit
    • Phone number: 075-746-5830 (from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.)
      Business hours: B1F Food Hall - 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.; 1F Market - 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.; 2F Workshop - 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. *Business hours may change. Do check the official website before heading down.
      Irregular holidays

As we left the tower after finishing our coverage, Kyoto Tower had lit up. Though it's usually white, several times a year, the color changes to match a theme, including orange, blue, and red.

There aren't just beautiful sights to see, there's delicious food and shopping, and accommodations at this tower that is a symbol of Kyoto! Do come and enjoy it at your leisure.

* Due to the influence of COVID-19, business hours may be changed, temporary closures, and service contents may be changed.

Written by:

WESTPLAN

WESTPLAN

Kiko Matsuda, Keiko Kimura, Risa Tsuji, and a team of female writers familiar with Kansai. We love eating, drinking and traveling! We share fun information based on our experiences.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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