Kyoto Tower, Kyoto’s Tallest Structure

Situated across from Kyoto Station is the grand Kyoto Tower, a 131-meter tall structure that overlooks Kyoto as its tallest structure. The tower was supposed to be finished in time for the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, but was instead opened to the public in December of the same year. In this article we’ll go more in-depth about the tower, and where you can stay near it (hint: it’s inside the tower!).

What to do in Kyoto Tower

You can’t miss Kyoto Tower when looking across the skyline of Kyoto, it’s the tallest structure after all! Being right outside Kyoto Station central/north exit, you can’t miss it when you arrive on the shinkansen. Many people are divided over the tower, regarding the tower as unnecessary in a city that is immersed in ancient Japan style, but that doesn’t stop nearly 400,000 people from visiting the observation deck near the top of the spire.

Designed by Kyoto University’s doctor of Engineering, TANABASHI Ryo, Kyoto Tower’s look was inspired by the Japanese candle. It was built to withstand even the greatest earthquakes and typhoons. The tower is built differently that its Tokyo counterpart, with steels rings stacked upon each other and then covered with lightweight steel sheets, painted white. When lit up from the bottom, the white becomes a gradient on the top and bottom, giving the structure depth in the darkness.

Getting to Kyoto Tower is no easy feat. While you’ll be able to see the structure from miles away, the tower itself is on top of a 9-story building complex that can be a maze to get through. The complex holds everything from public baths on the 3rd basement floor, to the Beer Garden & BBQ Garden on the 10th floor of the main building. You could lose a day walking around the complex and then capping off the relaxing day with a great view on the observation deck.

A Stunning Kyoto Tower View

The observation deck inside Kyoto Tower is a must for any traveler to the city as it has a stunning Kyoto Tower view. Located on the 4th and 5th floor inside the tower itself (not to be confused with the complex underneath), the view from the observation deck can stretch all the way to Osaka on a nice sunny day.

To get to the observation deck, you must buy a ticket on the first floor of the main complex, head up to the 11th floor of the main building then transfer to the Kyoto Tower elevator to reach your destination. At most, you’ll pay 800 yen for an Adult Ticket to go to the observation deck of Kyoto Tower and have the chance to see a panoramic view of the old capital of Japan, the rest of of the ticket prices are:

  • Adults: 800 yen
  • High School students: 650 yen
  • Junior High & Elementary School students: 550 yen
  • Children over 3 years of age: 150 yen
  • People with disabilities: 400 yen

On the fifth floor of Kyoto Tower, there are free to use telescopes, so you can get an up-close look at the machiya houses of Nishijin or the sparse fields near Uji.

Stay Inside the Tower at Kyoto Tower Hotel

In the shadow of Kyoto Tower is the Kyoto Tower Hotel, a three-star hotel located in the complex underneath Kyoto’s tallest structure. The hotel is only a few minutes-walk from Kyoto Station, and is easy to spot, even if you’re a first-time visitor to Kyoto. It’s hard to miss the tower on top. It’s a convenient place to stay thanks to being located near all the major train lines and bus terminal just outside its doors.

Thanks to its location and surrounding restaurants and facilities, you’ll be able to eat, bath and relax the day away. For Kyoto Tower Hotel guests, you’ll be able to get discounted rates at the public bath located on the 3rd basement floor and lovely views from the Sky Lounge restaurant located on the 3rd floor inside the tower. Booking quickly and early is essential as the hotel is very popular.

Spot information

  • Spot name: Kyoto Tower Hotel
  • Street address: 721-1 Higashishiokoji-cho, Karasuma-dori, Shichijo-sagaru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto 600-8216
  • Access: A 2-minute walk from Kyoto Station Karasuma Central Gate