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Kyo-Train Garaku

Experience a Japanese traditional setting inside an elegantly decorated train to and from Kyoto and Osaka.

By Alma Reyes

If you think Japanese traditional settings can only be seen inside Japanese homes, buildings, parks, temples and shrines, the Kyo-Train Garaku to and from Kyoto Kawaramachi and Umeda, Osaka proves you wrong.

Hankyu Railway’s retro-designed six-car train started its operation in March 2019 in celebration of Kyoto’s over 1,200-year history. Abiding by its name “garaku,” meaning refinement and the old imperial capital, Kyo-train Garaku promises to entice passengers with its beautiful seasonal ornamentation per car, which mirrors wooden homes in Kyoto during the 1950s. No two cars present the same design; thus, choosing your car preference can be the start of a thrilling ride.

Car Seating

Kyo- Garaku Train

Photo by: PIXTA/ KUZUHA Travel in style.

The first car in autumn theme is patterned after maple leaves in flowing water and highlights tatami mat backrests box seats, and round windows. In the second car, a wintery glow pervades throughout, with a bamboo motif on its exterior facade, and a dry landscape garden inside, typifying a tsubo-niwa (enclosed garden). Shoji-screened windows accentuate the atmosphere for viewing the snow outdoors. The third car, spring, filters cherry blossoms in both the box seats and rows facing the window, which permit a pleasant view of the scenery. Summer irises and hollyhock flowers spread around the fourth car, with checkered-patterned walls. Large, circular windows provide a wide spectrum of fields and mountains.

Another indoor garden with a stone lantern and chouzubachi rock water basin can be found in the fifth car, designed in the susuki (silver grass) theme of early autumn. Upholstery seats shine in fall colors of rust, yellow, and olive green. The sixth car exhibits the early spring feel with plum blossom decorations in its tatami-styled box seats.

All cars boast wooden lanterns, noren curtains in the doorways, bamboo-styled screens, all wooden seats, and even Kyoto’s inu-yarai (bamboo fences against dogs peeing) in the side walls.

Additional Perks

Kyo- Garaku Train

Photo by: Alma Reyes Early autumn interior of Car 5, Kyo-train Garaku.

Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe sightseeing magazines in English are also provided on the side walls. The stress-free bonus of the Kyo-train Garaku is that it requires no advance reservation, and costs the same price as the regular Hankyu train to and from Kyoto Kawaramachi and Umeda. The train departure times, however, are limited, with only four schedules a day, and only on weekends and holidays, so make sure to check the website before boarding.

No matter which car you sit in, the nostalgic sentiment of old Kyoto permeates through Japan’s charming four seasons wonderfully staged as you reach your destination.

Things To Know


Kyo-train Garaku is a limited express train with stops at Kyoto Kawaramachi, Karasuma, Katsura, Awaji, Juso and Osaka-Umeda. The ride between Kyoto Kawaramachi and Umeda takes about 45 minutes. Regular fare costs ¥410 one way.

How To Get There


Where To Stay

Kyoto Central Inn
  • 30 Otabicho, Kyoto-shi Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, 600-8002 Japan
  • ¥6,930 - ¥12,000
  • 3.65/5 (231 reviews)
  • 0.1 km
Tokyu Stay Kyoto Sakaiza
  • 557 Nakanochonakanocho, Kyoto-shi Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, 604-8042 Japan
  • ¥28,050 - ¥78,100
  • 4.5/5 (58 reviews)
  • 0.1 km
Sora Niwa Terrace Kyoto Bettei
  • 2-324 Inaricho (Kawaramachidorishijosagaru, Kawaramachidorishijosagaru 2-Chome), Kyoto-shi Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, 600-8022 Japan
  • ¥91,800 - ¥459,000
  • 4.75/5 (33 reviews)
  • 0.2 km
Shijo Kawaramachi Onsen Soraniwa Terrace Kyoto
  • 2-324 Inaricho (Kawaramachidorishijosagaru, Kawaramachidorishijosagaru 2-Chome), Kyoto-shi Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, 600-8022 Japan
  • ¥31,523 - ¥109,431
  • 4.51/5 (150 reviews)
  • 0.2 km
Good Nature Hotel Kyoto
  • 2-318-6 Inaricho (Kawaramachidorishijosagaru, Kawaramachidorishijosagaru 2-Chome), Kyoto-shi Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, 600-8022 Japan
  • ¥32,670 - ¥166,140
  • 4.45/5 (205 reviews)
  • 0.2 km

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