The Kyoto Tower is one of Kyoto’s modern landmarks, standing in gleaming contrast to its ancient shrines and temples. Its red and white spire stands tall above the city. The tower was built in 1964 and is 131 meters in height, weighing 800 tons. It was one of Japan’s many feats that year, alongside the Tokyo Olympics and the inauguration of the Shinkansen bullet train.
The tower itself rests upon a commercial building. The structure is home to restaurants, souvenir shops, an observation deck, a public bath, and a hotel.
Check out all that the Kyoto Tower has to offer, and start planning your next journey to Japan today!
How to get to Kyoto Tower
Kyoto Tower is located on the north side of the train station (called Karasuma side) directly across from the north central exit.
Read more: Getting around Kyoto
A brief history of Kyoto Tower
Kyoto Tower has been called “a cheerful beacon of 1960’s optimism.” At the time of its construction, it was the tallest building in Kyoto, and it remains so to this day. Along with the Olympics and the Shinkansen, the Tower marked a “wave of modernization” in Japan.
The Tower’s location was formerly home to the Kyoto Central Post Office. Kyoto’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry desired to fill this space with a “center of culture and industry” to encourage tourism.
At that time, buildings in the area were limited to a height of 31 meters. Architect Mamoru Yamada circumvented the regulation by designing a tower which could be labeled a “rooftop structure”. The tower itself was shaped to resemble a traditional Buddhist candle, and designed to withstand high-magnitude earthquakes and typhoons.
At the time of its construction, the Tower met with opposition from those who felt it didn’t fit in with Kyoto’s charming historic architecture. This opposition still exists to some extent, but many residents today consider the Tower a beloved landmark.
Kyoto Tower facilities
Kyoto Tower is divided into two portions. The Kyoto Tower Building spans the block and is nine stories in height. It is home to the Tower’s restaurants, shops (including a small mall, the “Kyoto Tower Sando”), and a hotel.
The Tower Building serves as the pedestal on which the Tower itself was built. The “tower proper” reaches into the sky another 100 meters above the Tower Building.
A viewing platform or observation deck is located 100 meters above the ground. The deck allows visitors to enjoy a 360-degree view of Kyoto. On clear days, visibility increases to include the distant skyline of Osaka, making it an ideal base for sightseeing. Telescopes mounted on the deck will help you pick out important landmarks. The deck’s interior space also houses a miniature shrine.
To reach the observation levels, take the elevator to the eleventh floor. This floor serves as a transfer point between the Kyoto Tower Building and the tower proper. From the eleventh floor, you can take another elevator to the Tower’s upper levels. These include the Sky Lounge bar on Level 3 and the observation deck on Level 5.
The Kansai Tourist Information Center, or KTIC, is located on the third floor of the Tower Building. Its multilingual staff are there to help international tourists learn about and make reservations for hotels, transportation, and events all across Japan. Free maps and discounted transit passes are available.
Next to the KTIC, you will find a kimono rental shop and a professional photography studio to help you remember your remarkable trip to Kyoto.
The sento-style public bath or spa is known as Kyoto Tower Daiyokujo Yuu. It is located in the Tower Building’s basement level. Remember to employ the etiquette typical of any onsen when using the bath. Leave your clothing in the locker, and wash before and after entering the bath.
Hotels and restaurants
The Kyoto Tower houses three restaurants. They are located on Basement Level 1, the third floor of the Tower Building, and on Observation Level 3.
On the fifth through ninth floors of the Tower Building, you will find the Kyoto Tower Hotel. Hotel guests will receive reduced admission to Tower amenities, such as the public bath.
Opening hours and admission fees
The opening hours differ between Kyoto Tower’s various amenities.
- The popular viewing platform is open from 9 am to 9 pm daily,
- The admission price is of 770 yen. Tickets can be purchased at a booth on the first floor of the Tower Building.
- The public bath, located on the Tower’s basement level, is open daily from 7 am to 10 pm.
- The bath also requires an admission fee of 750 yen. A ticket vending machine is located outside the spa entrance.
Note: At times, online coupons may be available that reduce these admission costs to 700 yen, respectively.
Tourist information center
- The Tourist Information Center is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm.
- It is closed from December 30 to January 3 each year.