Sightsee in Arashiyama, Kyoto, by Tram with the Randen
The Arashiyama Line, popularly known as Randen, is a tram line in Kyoto City. It's a great mode of transportation to see the Arashiyama area in Kyoto, which is famous for its beautiful autumn leaves and the many World Heritage shrines and temples along the railway line. In this article, you'll learn all about this tram and how to ride it!
Jan 30 2019 (Sep 09 2020)
What Is Randen?
Randen is a tram line operated by the Keifuku Electric Railway. The line has 2 routes: the Arashiyama Line connecting Shijo-Omiya Station and Arashiyama Station, and the Kitano Line connecting Kitano-Hakubaicho Station and Katabiranotsuji Station.
Randen has over 100 years of history, and it is adored by the locals as the only tram in Kyoto. It operates mainly in the Rakusai area, and is very popular with tourists due to its excellent access to the most famous sightseeing spots in Arashiyama. The tram stops are shown in the map above.
There are a lot of World Heritage shrines and temples along the tram line, such as Tenryu-ji Temple, Ninna-ji Temple, Ryoan-ji Temple, Kinkaku-ji Temple, and Saiho-ji Temple (Koke-dera or "Moss Temple").
There's also convenient access to Matsuno-o Shrine, Umenomiya Shrine, Hirano Shrine, and Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, which are four of the famous 22 shrines and temples that have received tremendous reverence from the Imperial Court since ancient times. There are plenty of attractive sightseeing spots along the line as well, including the Toei Kyoto Studio Park, where you can watch the open sets of Japanese period dramas. There are too many places here to see in just one day!
Another perk of the Randen is the easy access to various events closely related to the local area. For example, there is a red ink stamp collecting tour in the Rakusai area. If you buy the original stamp book (500 yen) and collect the red stamps from certain shrines and temples, you will receive the Fukumisuzu lucky charm, which blesses you with safe travels. In addition to this, there are also iconic Japanese events such as Tanabata, and also collaborative projects with animated television shows. (*Events are generally held for a limited time, so please check the official website for details).
Ride on the Randen!
Randen is an extremely convenient means of transportation for tourists visiting the Rakusai area. Here's a guide on how to ride on the tram!
Apart from 4 major stations (Shijo-Omiya, Katabiranotsuji, Arashiyama, and Kitano-Hakubaicho), most Randen stations are unstaffed without a ticket gate. Trams run every 10 minutes.
It's a one-car tram without a conductor, and there are two doors on each side. The rear side (red part) is the entrance, while the front side (yellow part) is the exit. Please be careful not to accidentally board the tram from the exit in front.
This is an image of the inside of the tram. Since it is a single car tram, it can become very crowded during the holiday seasons.
Hand luggage can get in the way when crowded, so it is considered good manners to place them on the shelves on top on both sides.
Also, as indicated by the sign in the above image, some seats are priority seats. Please reserve these seats for the elderly or physically challenged.
When you want to get off the tram, press the button on the wall before your stop to inform the driver.
Exit the tram from the front door. Fares should be paid at the station ticket gate at one of the main stations (Shijo-Omiya, Katabiranotsuji, Arashiyama, and Kitano-hakubaicho). At other stations, put the money in the fare box near the driver’s seat.
Insert your money in the box (blue part indicated in the above image). If you don’t have enough change, there is also a money exchange machine (yellow part). You can also use major IC cards like ICOCA by tapping your card (green part). You don't need to tap the IC card when you're getting on the tram.
Great Ticket Deals!
Randen has many amazing ticket deals which are great to use for sightseeing.
The image above shows a Randen One-Day Ticket (adults 500 yen, children 250 yen), which you can use to get on and off at any station along the Randen Line as much as you want all day. This ticket also has benefits that can be used at 30 tourist facilities, and gives discounts on admission to shrines and temples. To use it, just show it to the driver when you get off the tram. This ticket can be purchased at any of the 4 major stations (Shijo-Omiya, Katabiranotsuji, Arashiyama, and Kitano-hakubaicho). You can also get it at some hotels, like Hotel Keihan Kyoto.
The above image is also a picture of the Randen One-Day Ticket. On the back, it shows the year, month, and day. You scratch off the date that you used the ticket. Besides this, there are many other great Randen tickets, such as the "City Bus, Kyoto Bus, Randen One-Day Ticket Card" (1,000 yen) and the "Kyoto Subway & Randen One-Day Ticket" (1,000 yen). Plan accordingly and find the ticket that fits best with your trip!
That wraps up this overview of Randen, an indispensable transportation method for sightseeing in the Rakusai area. Hope this information will be useful for those planning a visit to Arashiyama!
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.