Check Out Keifuku Randen, Kyoto’s Last Remaining Tram Line

Explore Kyoto on Tram: Experience the Keifuku Randen

Can you imagine embarking on this scenic journey during the cherry blossom season?

All aboard the Keifuku Randen Tram! 

Natsukashii is the Japanese word for nostalgia, and it comes to mind once aboard the Keifuku Randen. Everything feels extra poignant on the last remaining tram line in Kyoto. This especially holds an irreplaceable space in the hearts of locals.

The Keifuku Randen Tram Line has been operated by Keifuku Electric Railroad over the past decades. The Randen branches out into two lines: the Arashiyama Line as well as the Kitano Line. It follows a flat fare system, which gives tourists and passengers the freedom to make pit stops along the way. Both lines boast of picturesque sceneries, as well as iconic landmarks for you to explore. 

Arashiyama Line

Keifuku Randen Tram

Image credit: Fabio Achilli

The Arashiyama Line runs from Shijo Omiya until Arashiyama, a tourist district known for relaxing boat rides and Instagrammable bamboo groves. The entire train ride takes roughly 22 minutes, spanning 7.2km. Feel free to disembark at any point in time to explore the historical sites along the way.

Kimono Forest

Keifuku Randen Tram

Image credit: Fabio Achilli

Although the Arashiyama bamboo forest is one of Kyoto’s most popular photo locations, there is another forest worth exploring. Disembark at the Arashiyama station to uncover the mystical Kimono Forest.

Kimono Forest is home to 600 poles adorned with vibrant Kyo-Yuzen or Kyoto printed silk. These fabric-covered cylindrical pillars are clustered together, lining the pathway of visitors. It’s as if you’re making your way through a mystical, silken forest of vibrant Japanese patterns.  

kimono forest

Image credit: Basile Morin

Dusk gives you the chance to witness the beauty of the art installation illuminated by bright lights. Nevertheless, its grandeur in the daytime is not to be forgotten. This serves as a unique cultural experience. 

If you are growing weary after a day’s worth of travelling, Arashiyama station offers a hot spring footbath on its platform. Simply pause for a moment to enjoy a relaxing footbath whilst watching trains whizz by. This is sure to provide a welcome respite from your fatigue.

Can’t wait to explore the magical Kimono Forest? Embark on a virtual tour of the enchanting Kimono Forest from the comforts of your own home this season!

Kitano Line

The 3.8km Kitano Line branches out from the Arashiyama Line at Katabiranotsuji station and ends at Kitano-Hakubaicho station.

Cherry Blossom Tunnel

High up on the bucket lists of many travellers around the world are the dainty cherry blossoms of Japan. Embrace springtime by getting a closer look at these delicate, fragrant flora. The Cherry Blossom Tunnel between Narutaki station and Utano station is a sight to behold; don’t miss it!

The cherry blossom season is affectionately coined Hanami. The name itself speaks volumes about the way people immensely enjoy this natural spectacle. “Hana” means “flower”, while “mi” means “to look”. During the peak of cherry blossom season, cherry blossom trees line the tracks on either side. This envelops the tram, creating an illusion of a tunnel-like path of cherry blossoms. For one week during the cherry blossom season, the tram is said to slow down whilst running through the tunnel. This gives commuters a chance to fully appreciate the transient beauty of these fleeting blooms. Whip out your cameras if you’re lucky enough to be onboard!

As the day draws to a close, it is a vastly different world altogether. Riding the tram as evening falls proves to be a magical experience. Watch as the cherry blossom trees illuminate against the backdrop of the night sky. The bloom forecast is estimated to be between the end of March to April. Although short lived, it is nonetheless breathtaking. 

When aboard the Keifuku Randen Tram

Reminiscent of yet another Japanese term Komorebi, the Keifuku Randen is perhaps one of the best places to experience the cinematic light that Japan is known for. Aboard the tram, I would imagine how the moniker, “Land of the Rising Sun” would perfectly fit nature’s light show. Picture sunlight streaming through the tree leaves and cherry blossoms — hitting the dashboard and swaying with the wind.

When aboard the tram, you would be surrounded by scenery so sublime, it almost hurts not to document it. Nevertheless, although it might seem counterintuitive, do remember to savour the present. Simply take in the scenery for all that it is worth before whipping out your phone to snap a shot. More often than not, we grow too busy editing our present reality to savour the season’s transient beauty. Unplug for a moment to enjoy the full experience aboard the Keifuku Randen Tram Line.

Also read: 6 Insta-worthy Sakura Spots in Japan: Vibrant Blossoms, Snow-capped Mountains + More!

Exploring the Land of the Rising Sun on tram is arguably one of the most authentic ways to travel. The scenic tram routes would be absolutely worthwhile, and the Keifuku Randen is no exception.

About Author

Jaime Lee
Jaime Lee

Golden hour adventures are Jaime's favourite kind of adventures. She hopes to see all the sunsets in the world one day.


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