The Hankyu Railway connects popular Kansai sightseeing spots in Kobe, Osaka, and Kyoto. Although several train lines run through each, including the JR Line and private railways, you can quickly get around these popular spots with the Hankyu Railway.
Here we’ll take a look at the Hankyu Railway and give you useful information about its routes and sightseeing spots. Enjoy the beautiful nature, historical places, and fashionable shopping districts along the Hankyu Line.
- Table of Contents
- What is the Hankyu Electric Railway?
- ■Two Main Sightseeing Routes
- Difference Between the Hanshin and Hankyu Lines
- Great Value Sightseeing: The Hankyu-Hanshin 1-Day Pass
- Introducing Sightseeing Spots Along the Main Hankyu Railway Line!
- Kobe Line: Kobe Sannomiya Station
- Kobe Line: Rokko Station
- Kobe Line: Nishinomiya-Kitaguchi Station
- Kyoto Line: Kyoto Kawaramachi Station
- Kyoto Line: Shijo Karasuma Station
- Kyoto Line: Arashiyama Station (Transfer to Arashiyama Line)
What is the Hankyu Electric Railway?
The Hankyu Electric Railway connects Osaka to Kyoto in the east and Kobe in the west. The Hankyu is the only private railway that connects these three cities. The train cars are a maroon color that has remained unchanged for more than 100 years since its opening in 1910. Its dark brown color, reminiscent of high-quality red wine, is considered elegant and popular with railway fans.
■Two Main Sightseeing Routes
There are nine routes in total: the Kyoto Line, Takarazuka Line, Kobe Line, Arashiyama Line, Senri Line, Mino Line, Itami Line, Koyo Line, and Imazu Line. However, the main lines for sightseeing are the Kyoto Line and Kobe Line.
From central Osaka Umeda Station, you can catch the Kyoto, Takarazuka, and Kobe lines. It takes about 42 minutes from Osaka Umeda Station to Kyoto Kawaramachi Station via the Kyoto Line limited express train. From Osaka Umeda Station to Kobe Sannomiya Station, it takes about 27 minutes via the Kobe Line limited express train. To get from Kobe Kawaramachi Station to Kobe Sannomiya Station, transfer from the Kyoto Line Limited Express to the Kobe Line Limited Express at Juso Station, which takes about 1 hour and 12 minutes.
Difference Between the Hanshin and Hankyu Lines
The Hanshin Electric Railway is a group company, and though some stations may share the same name, the station locations can be completely different. The Osaka Umeda Station on the Hanshin Line is a 5-minute walk south from Osaka Umeda Station on the Hankyu Line. The Hanshin Kobe Line connects Osaka Umeda Station to Kobe Sannomiya Station, the center of Hanshin Electric Railway, and runs south (seaside) from Hankyu. The Kobe Sannomiya Station on the Hanshin Line is also about 5 minutes away from Kobe Sannomiya Station on the Hankyu Line. Be careful not to confuse the Hankyu and Hanshin lines when going to meet your friends!
Great Value Sightseeing: The Hankyu-Hanshin 1-Day Pass
This is a ticket that you can purchase on all lines of the Hankyu Railway, Hanshin Electric Railway, Kobe Rapid Transit Railway (including Nishidai and Minatogawa), valid only for that one-day period. Adult passes are 1,300 yen, and children's passes are 650 yen. You can purchase a pass at Hankyu Railway service counters, as well as in the stations.
Introducing Sightseeing Spots Along the Main Hankyu Railway Line!
Kobe Line: Kobe Sannomiya Station
This is the central spot of Kobe, a port city. The port tower lies on the ocean side (south), while the old settlements and Kitano Ijinkan-gai are on the mountain side (north).
Kobe Port Tower
This tower standing on the middle jetty has a pipe structure and a unique shape, similar to that of a Japanese drum. There is an observation room and a souvenir shop inside. The nighttime illumination is also a beautiful sight.
Kobe Kyukyoryuchi (Former Foreign Settlement 38)
This is an area that housed foreigners who lived in Kobe, such as traders, in the Meiji era. It is known for its beautiful Western-style buildings, built in an orderly cityscape and its brand shops and cafes.
Kobe Line: Rokko Station
This station is located at the foot of Mt. Rokko, and the closest station to Kobe University. There are many fashionable cafes and general shops.
Take the Kobe City Bus 16 and Bus 106 to Rokko Cable Shita Station. From there, take the cable car to Rokko Sanjo Station. The view from the top of the mountain is incredible. You can enjoy the magnificent scenery of the islands of the Seto Inland Sea and Osaka Bay, and a beautiful nighttime view of Hanshin. There are also places of interest where you can spend a relaxing time on the mountain, such as the Rokko Music Box Museum and the Rokko Alpine Botanical Garden, as well as restaurants and cafes.
Kobe Line: Nishinomiya-Kitaguchi Station
The station between Kobe and Osaka. Here you can transfer to the Imazu Line to go to the Takarazuka Area, or to Imazu Station, where you can transfer to the Hanshin Electric Railway.
Hankyu Nishinomiya Gardens
This large-scale commercial facility was built in the place where a stadium once stood. There are a variety of specialty shops, including the Hankyu Department Store. There are many upscale brands and restaurants that are popular with women and always busy.
Kyoto Line: Kyoto Kawaramachi Station
This is the closest station to Shijo Kawaramachi, the most downtown area in Kyoto. If you head east, you will find many famous spots, including Gion, Yasaka Shrine, and Kiyomizu Temple. At night, you can enjoy the Kyoto nightlife of Pontocho and Gion Hanamikoji.
Head straight east from the intersection of Shijo Kawaramachi, where you will be greeted by the landmark vermillion tower gate. This historic shrine is where the Gion Matsuri, one of the three major festivals in Japan, is held, dedicated to Seiryu, the blue dragon said to protect the eastern part of Kyoto.
Gion Hanamikoji Street
This is a hanamachi (geisha district) frequented by maiko and geiko. In the past, there were many teahouses that could only be entered with a formal introduction. Recently, however, many of these old shops have been refurbished, so you can enjoy a meal in the traditional Kyoto atmosphere.
Kyoto Line: Shijo Karasuma Station
In this area lies Muromachi-dori, the center of Kyoto's finance and business, where many kimono shops once stood. Roads other than Shijo-dori and Karasuma-dori are quite narrow, and there are many one-way streets. However, with the old private houses that remain, you are sure to feel the real Kyoto atmosphere. There are many restaurants and retail stores as well, so you can also enjoy shopping.
Nishiki Market Shopping District
Nishiki-dori is lined with about 130 shops on both sides, and extends about 400 meters from east to west. Many shops have existed here since ancient times, selling groceries such as fresh fish, vegetables, pickles, and side dishes. Professional cooks also used this market. Today, the number of restaurants where you can enjoy a meal and drinks is increasing, and it is a popular spot with foreign tourists.
The Museum of Kyoto
Here, you can learn all about Kyoto's history, traditions, and culture. Enjoy dining and shopping at the 'Roji Tempo,' built as a reproduction of Kyoto's late Edo Period with traditional machiya townhouses.
Kyoto Line: Arashiyama Station (Transfer to Arashiyama Line)
Arashiyama is a scenic spot, and one of Kyoto's signature tourist destinations known for its beautiful scenery and viewing spots in every season.
After crossing the Togetsukyo Bridge, you can walk through Tenryuji Temple in the direction of Sagano, where you will find the Chikurin no Michi walking path. In addition to temples and shrines, there are also many cafes and souvenir shops.
This is a temple of the Rinzai Sect. The Sogenchi Teien Garden, established about 700 years ago, still retains its image of that time. With Arashiyama to the left and Kameyama and Ogurayama in the front, it is beautiful in every season. The area has been designated as a special scenic spot.
Sagano Truck Train車
This single-line tourist train connects Torokko Saga Station to Torokko Kameoka Station. You can enjoy the beauty of Hozukyo Valley while traveling at an average speed of 25 km/hour, the speed of a bicycle.
Chikurin-no-michi” (Arashiyama Bamboo Grove)
Bamboo forests line both sides of this 200-meter path from Nonomiya Shrine in Sagano to Okochi Sanso. It has a romantic atmosphere, with the sound of leaves swaying in the wind and the sunlight shimmering through the trees. It is a very popular spot.
The Hankyu Electric Railway connects the three cities of Kobe, Osaka, and Kyoto. You can enjoy the uniqueness of each city, from the exotic ports of Kobe, the bustling city center of Osaka, and Kyoto’s traditional Japanese atmosphere. Board the Hankyu Railway, and enjoy a time-saving and efficient sightseeing trip.
*The above article is based on information from June 2020
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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