Kyoto Regular Tour Bus (京都定期観光バス)
Kyoto Regular Tour Bus is a regular sightseeing bus operated by Keihan Bus and Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau in Kyoto City and the surrounding area.
This section will introduce the Lake Biwa Regular Tour Bus which departs from Kyoto Station, and is managed by Keihan bus (the Kojak Bus used to jointly operate the Lake Biwa Regular Tour Bus as well). At present, it has been merged with the Kyoto Regular Tour Bus, so the name Lake Biwa Regular Tour Bus no longer in use. In the past, people would line up from Otsu Station for the Lake Biwa Regular Tour Bus.
This section also introduces a special tour for foreigners produced by JTB which is run as a part of Sunrise Tours.
The regular tour bus has a long history and was opened in April, 1927 in Kyoto, which is one of the most famous sightseeing spots in Japan. As the typical features of the regular tour bus in Kyoto City, it is prepared as a set with entrance fee and meal so that people are able to get in to the popular sightseeing spot without waiting time, and it makes a course which is not able to enter as individual tour.
The most remarkable tours are the "Winter Tour in Kyoto" and "Summer Tour in Kyoto" and are included as tie-ups to various events throughout the year.
(The routes change every year, please confirm with the official website.)
The wealth of sightseeing resources allows these tours to never lose their luster, and thanks to this and superb management, the tour is busy with many passengers during the spring and winter sightseeing seasons even now, making for a bustling tour bus.
At present, almost all courses depart from and arrive at the Karamsuma Exit bus terminal in Kyoto Station.
Some of the buses which depart from 8:00 to 9:59, do so from Keihan Sanjo Station and Hachijo Exit of Kyoto Station, but both buses stop at the regular tour bus stop at Karasuma Exit, Kyoto Station, before proceeding onward with the tour. Some of these don't return to Sanjo Keihan Mae or Hachijo Exit of Kyoto Station. Also there is a sightseeing tour for Lake Biwa, whereby passengers connect at Otsu Station after initially departing from Hachijo Exit, Kyoto Station.
April 18, 1927: Kyoto Sightseeing Bus starts the business (The first regular sightseeing tour bus in Kyoto.)
January 30, 1934: Otsu Area Sightseeing Bus starts as a business (the first regular tour bus in Lake Biwa area)
September 30, 1939: Temporarily closes
October 13, 1948: Restarts
October 10, 1954: Commences joint service with Kyoto City Bus
December 15, 1983: First service of the first double-decker bus employed as a regular tour bus
May 15, 1983: Employs the first female driver in Japan (later, this is abolished naturally)
The main names for the tours and routes are as follows (routes are in no particular order)
Please see the following for tours still in service. However, since the following are only representative of tours offered, there are also tours which do not specify the route taken "Summer Trip in Kyoto", "Winter Trip in Kyoto" and so on.
Please check the official website for other tours outside of the following.
Kyoto One Day (A course) #: Heian-jingu Shrine (the precincts of a shrine), Arashiyama (free time), Kinkaku-ji Temple/ Kiyomizu-dera Temple
Kyoto Half Day (B course): Kinkaku-ji Temple, Ginkaku-ji Temple, Kiyomizu-dera Temple
Quick Course of Kyo (AS course): Kinaku-ji Temple, Ginkaku-ji Temple
Saga/ Arashiyama (C course): Daikaku-ji Temple "former Saga-gosho," Tenryu-ji Temple, walking in Arashiyama (free time), Ninna-ji Temple "former Omuro-gosho," Ryoan-ji Temple
Rakuto Tour: Daigo/ Higashiyama (W course): Nanzen-ji Temple, Daigo-ji Temple, Shoren-in Temple, Kodai-ji Temple, Nene no michi (Nene's road) (free time), lunch at Rihga Royal Hotel Kyoto
Daigo-ji Temple and Romantic Uji (D course): Manpuku-ji Temple, Mimuroto-ji Temple, Byodo-in Temple, walking in Uji (free time), Daigo-ji Temple Sanbo-in, Kaju-ji Temple
Trolley train, and Hozu-gawa River rafting (S course) *: Sagano Scenic Railway (the trolley train), Hozu-kyo Gorge Hozu-gawa River rafting, walk through Arashiyama
Kyoto Night Highlight (DH course) #*: Museum of Kyoto (History and residences of Kyo), Shinsenen (Kyo food), Higashiyama Drive Way (a night view on top of Higashiyama Mauntain)
And, "*" marked routes may be canceled or changed due to weather. Also, "#" marked routes are run with double-decker buses operated by Keihan Bus.
(This may not be the case for additional buses.)
Tour operated everyday except the winter season
Mt. Hiei and Ohara Sanzen-in Temple (Q course): Mt. Hiei Drive Way, Enryaku-ji Temple Konponchu-do, Okuhiei Drive Way, Minedo observation deck, Sanzen-in Temple, walk through Ohara
Tours operated during the peak seasons of spring and fall
Nishiyama Sanka (MA course): Matsunoo Taisha Shrine, Shoji-ji Temple (Hana no tera Temple), Oharano Jinja Shrine, Shobo-ji Temple (Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto City), Jurin-ji Temple (Kyoto City) (Narihira-dera Temple), Yoshimine-dera Temple, Yoshimine no sato Nishiyama Bento (lunch box)
Takao-Sagano (Y course): (operated only during fall high-season) walk through Takao (Kyoto City), Arashiyama-Takao Parkway, walk through Sagano
Summer only tour
Mt. Hiei and Lake Biwa Michigan (Z course): Mt. Hiei Drive Way, Mt. Hiei national treasure palace, Enryaku-ji Temple Konponchu-do, walk through Hamaotsu, Lake Biwa ship (sightseeing on the lake)
Garden Museum Hiei and Lake Biwa Michigan (GM course): Mt. Hiei Drive Way, Garden Museum Hiei, walk through Hamaotsu, Lake Biwa Michigan
Tour for foreigners (Sunrise Tour)
The following tours run as a part of Sunrise Tours for foreigners operated by JTB. The entire tour is conducted in English, and as such it is necessary to be able to understand English to join the tour.
(It's not required that the customer be a foreigner if they understand English completely.)
Kyoto One Day:Nijo-jo Castle, Kinkaku-ji Temple, Kyoto Imperial Palace, Kyoto Handcraft Center, Heian-jingu Shrine, Sanjusangendo, Kiyomizu-dera Temple
Kyoto Morning: Parts of the Kyoto One Day tour listed above to Kyoto Handicraft Center.
(There is also a tour "Kyoto Morning & Craft" in which the tourists can receive a souvenir at the Handicraft Center.)
Kyoto Afternoon: Parts of the Kyoto One Day tour listed above following Heian-jingu Shrine.
There is a special tour which is sometimes organized as an authorized 'Kyoto Okoshiyasu Daigaku' tour.
The service uses private and regular tour buses which are marked with the company number C, and are prepared by the Rakunan Office of Keihan bus.
(At present, Hino S'elega and Mitsubishi Fuso Aero Ace are used the most.)
A double-decker bus called "Grand Panorama" which is described above is only used for # marked bus.
Also, small form factor vehicles, such as the Hino Rainbow and Hino Melpha are used only for tours which run through narrow parts such as "Nishiyama Sanka."
Also, cars for the Sunrise Tour is limited to two (currently C-3716/ 3717) due to curtains equipped on the vehicles.
(However, the vehicles operate on a general tour during off-days.)
In addition, the bus called One-roma Car with relatively gorgeous seat among the buses that ran regular roads used to be used as well.
Please see the following about Skybus Kyoto.
Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau
The service uses a car called the Fantastic Bus "Kyo Nozomi-chan Go," chassis made by Hino Motors and equipped by the Tokyo Special Coach Manufacture company, and four Isuzu Gala cars made by Isuzu Motors, which are prepared by Umezu Office of Kyoto City Bus.
Please check the official website for "Kyo Nozomi-chan Go", as tours are limited.
Support from Keihan Bus Group
A private car and a specialized highway car are used as extra support by Keihan Kyoto Kotsu during the sightseeing season in the fall when the number of passengers peak (this has been ongoing since it used to be a part of Kyoto Kotsu (Kameoka)).
Also since Keihan Kyoto Kotsu doesn't own many private cars or specialized highway cars, the registered private car of Keihan Uji which relatively has many cars supports them when they need an extra (but, the One-roma car which runs on regular street and the car for a street and private use, doesn't manage the regular sightseeing tour bus).
Skytbus Kyoto' (also called SKY bus) uses an open-top bus by Neo Plan/Space Liner, which started service in October 4th, 2007 and is operated by the Kyoto Regular Tour Bus. It is operated under Keihan Bus. However, only top drivers from the Rakunan Office or Yokooji Office which is a branch of the Rakunan Office are able to drive, which differs from typical regular tour buses.
The vehicle officially belongs to Hinomaru Limousine Itabashi Office (Itabashi Ward, Tokyo), but is placed at the Keihan Bus Rakunan Office when available for rent. The winter service ended successfully in January 6, 2008.
Because of this, spring service commenced from March 20, 2008, ("Sakura Course" until April 13, operated as "Shinryoku Course" from April 14 to June 8). Before that, it operated a free route which tied-in with Higashiyama hanakoro 2008.
Also, there is an afternoon bus which provides English language announcement during spring service.
The jurisdiction office
Kyoto City Bus
Kyoto City Bus Umezu Office (only city employees are able to drive regular tour buses)
Kyoto City Bus Gojo Office used to be in charge, but changed to Umezu due to the office being abolished.
Keihan Bus Rakunan Office (Only top drivers are able to drive in all 11 offices of Keihan Bus)
Keihan Bus Otsu Office, Keihan Bus Yamashina Office (it was Kyoto at that time), and Rakunan Office used to be co-managed until December 1985, but merged to form Rakunan Office. Keihan Bus Otsu Regular Tour Office was located near Otsu Station until February 1966, but was later abolished and merged with Otsu Office (the second office), Otsu Office was charged with the route of Otsu Regular Tour Office after the relocation.
Choro Q was sold to commemorate 80 years of service by the Kyoto Regular Tour Bus in April 18, 2008. It featured a set of two buses, one from Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau, and one from Keihan Bus.