Kitano Line, Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd (京福電気鉄道北野線)

The Kitano Line (Kitano-sen) is a railway line operated by Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd. that connects Kitano-Hakubaicho Station (located in the Kita Ward of Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture) and Katabiranotsuji Station (Ukyo Ward). This line and the Arashiyama Main Line, which is also operated by Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd., are collectively known as the Randen line.

Moreover, both sides of the railway track between Utano and Narutaki are planted with cherry trees and during the cherry blossom season in spring, the location is lit up at night. Moreover, both sides of the railway track between Utano and Narutaki are planted with cherry trees, which are illuminated on spring nights during the cherry blossom season. The entire rail line is exclusive.

Route data

Line distance (working kilometers): 3.8 km

Track gauge: 1435 mm

Number of stations: 9 (including the stations of origin and destination)

Double-track sections: between Narutaki Station and Tokiwa Station

Electrified sections: entire line (direct current 600 V).

Block (railway): Automatic block system

Operating pattern

Generally, a shuttle service is operated during the daytime, with all trains running at 10-minute intervals. During the autumn and spring sightseeing seasons, operation of regular trains on this route is extended from Kitano Hakubaicho Station through to Arashiyama Station along the Arashiyama Main Line during the daytime on Saturdays and holidays. All trains are run with a single operator and no conductors.

While there are passing sidings at all intermediate stations except for Myoushin-ji Temple Station and Utano Station, trains usually pass only at Narutaki Station and Ryuanji Station. However, because the route between Tokiwa and Narutaki is double-tracked, if a train heading for Kitano Hakubaicho is delayed, trains are likely to pass at a point between these stations if the timing is right. Moreover, more than half of the secured lands along the route between Ryuanji Station and Tojiin Station are wide enough for double-tracking. These areas of land were secured to enable double tracks to be laid so that trains could pass between stations; however, because the areas of land that have not yet been secured are crowded with private houses and securing this land is proving difficult, complete double-tracking for the entire route has not yet been realized. In the 1960s, trains ran at intervals of eight minutes and passed in Tokiwa Station, Omuro Station (present Omuro-Ninnaji Station) and Tojiin Station.

Neither Myoshinji Station nor Utano Station has a passing siding; however, at each station, two plover-type platforms have been installed along the lines to and from Kyoto. This is due to door operation considerations, to ensure that the left door, where the fare box is usually located, is always opened for boarding or disembarking.


Railroad service begun by Kyoto Dento. When the trains first began running, Kitano Station, to the south of Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine, was the station of origin; however, with the expansion of Imadegawa-dori Street, Kitano Hakubaicho became the station of origin. The route between Kitano and Kitano Hakubaicho was transferred to the Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau and incorporated into the Kyoto City Trams Imadegawa Line.

November 3, 1925: Kyoto Dento started railway service between Kitano and Takaoguchi (present Utano).

March 10, 1926: Trains started running between Takaoguchi and Katabiranotsuji. The line was connected to Arashiyama Main Line.

March 2, 1942: It was transferred to Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd.

September 16, 1958: With the expansion of Imadegawa-dori Street, the route between Kitano and Kitano Hakubaicho was transferred to the Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau. Hakubaicho Station was renamed Kitano-Hakubaicho Station.

December 15, 1975: The electricity collector for the cars was changed from a wheel type power collector to a bow collector.

January 9, 1982: Trains began to be run with a single operator and no on-board conductors.

May 1, 2002: A uniform fare system (adults 200 yen, children 100 yen) was adopted. The Kansai Thru Pass was introduced.

March 19, 2007: Ryoanji-michi Station, Omuro Station, and Takaoguchi Station were renamed, respectively, Ryoanji Station, Omuro Ninna-ji Station and Utano Station. In addition, the station numbering tested on the Kitano Line and the Japan railway line color list were formally introduced.

April 1, 2008: A departure melody was introduced at each station between Katabiranotsuji Station and Kitano Hakubaicho Station.

List of stations
Existing districts

Discontinued stations in existing districts

Between Komatsubara Station, Tojiin Station and Hakubaicho Station. It was near the intersection with Badai-dori Street.

Discontinued districts

Use of Kitano Station (Kyoto Prefecture) was discontinued on September 16, 1958.

LRT (Light Rail Transit) 'Imadegawa Line Plan'

The Light Rail Route was constructed on Imadegawa-dori Street, between Kitano Hakubaicho Station and Demachi-yanagi Station. Since the late 1990s, there have been plans to run direct trains on lines including this route and the Eizan Main Line of Eizan Electric Railway. Kyoto City is also conducting an examination, but it is unclear whether or not the plan will be realized (see the Kyoto City LRT plan by Kyoto City Trams for details).

Randen Brush-up Project

Beginning in Fiscal Year 2006, the following projects were executed as the Randen Brush-up Project.

The names of the Arashiyama Main Line and Kitano Line were united as "Randen" (March 19, 2007).

Seven stations, such as the closest stations to several tourist spots, were renamed (March 19, 2007).

Sightseeing information was included in onboard announcements.

A comprehensive tourist guide board to each station was established.

Reforms at each station

In addition to these projects, the following were carried out on the Arashiyama Main Line and Kitano Line, both of which have many world cultural heritage sites or national treasures designated as sightseeing spots along their routes.

Randen Kaiwai-kan
First, in October 2006, with the exception of Kitano Hakubaicho Station and Katabiranotsuji Station at either end of the Kitano Line, a large panel of photographs was posted at each station. The panels were called "Randen Kaiwai-kan," and they described places of interest in the vicinity of that station. Next, in September 2007, all stations on the Arashiyama Main Line had panels posted, with the exception of Shijo-Omiya Station, Nishioji-Sanjo Station and Yamanouchi Station (Kyoto Prefecture). While the panels were commonly posted in only one of either the Kyoto-bound or outward-bound platforms, Ryuanji Station and Rokuoin Station had panels posted on both these platforms. The works are composed of color photographs; only the photograph panel posted at Arashiyama Station (Keifuku Electric Railroad), a photographic work with Zen Buddhism (Tenryu-ji Temple Unsui) as its theme, is in monochrome. These photographs are the work of photographer Hiroshi MORITANI, while the title "Randen Kaiwai-kan" written beside the photograph panel was brushed by calligrapher Kagen HIGUCHI.

Symbol trees
In December 2006, every station on the Kitano Line except for Katabiranotsuji Station was planted with symbol trees or flower beds. The symbol trees are often planted in large wooden plant pots, but those at Omuro Ninna-ji Station and Utano Station are planted directly in the ground. The red maples at Utano Station were planted there long ago.

Before the Randen-Tenjingawa Station began service in March 2008, comprehensive tourist guide boards were posted only at each station on the Kitano Line. However, with the opening of the Randen-Tenjingawa Station, one was also set up at each station along the Arashiyama Main Line.

Formerly, there were two kinds of station name signpost: a sign attached to the station's rooftop, or a two-legged signpost on the platform. On March 19, 2007, when the line colors were formally introduced, all two-legged platform signposts were removed.

Tunnel of cherry blossoms
All pictures were taken between Narutaki and Utano.

[Original Japanese]