Train stations in Japan are real hubs within the city. They are often full of not only daily commuters or people travelling but also shops and restaurants. Some larger stations double as shopping malls. They are the real heart of the city. Kyoto Station is one of the few stations I went through several times on every single trip to Japan because it is so centrally located in the middle of the country. It has Japan’s second-largest station building (after Nagoya Station). It is one of the country’s most prominent buildings, incorporating a shopping mall, hotel, movie theatre, Isetan department store, and several local government facilities under one 15-story roof.
It was absolutely stunning to see it in person. The roof is imposing, very high up, creating an airy and spacious central hall. Part of the roof also doubles as an observation deck where you can see Kyoto. The current Kyoto Station opened in 1997, commemorating Kyoto’s 1,200th anniversary. Architecturally, it exhibits many characteristics of futurism, with a slightly irregular cubic façade of plate glass over a steel frame. The architect was Hiroshi Hara. The last time when I was there, I took a few photographs in black and white; look below:
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PS. Here are 10 little-known facts about Kyoto Station:
- Kyoto Station is one of the largest and busiest train stations in Japan, with over 200,000 passengers passing through each day.
- The station was designed by architect Hara Hiroshi and was completed in 1997.
- The station’s distinctive design features a futuristic glass and steel structure that is meant to evoke the image of a bird in flight.
- Kyoto Station is not just a transportation hub, but also a major shopping and entertainment complex, with hundreds of shops, restaurants, and other attractions.
- The station is home to the Skyway, an elevated walkway that offers stunning views of the city and leads to the Kyoto Tower, a famous landmark in its own right.
- Kyoto Station is also home to a large hotel, the Kyoto Granvia Hotel, which offers stunning views of the city and is a popular choice for tourists.
- The station is built on the site of the former Kyoto Central Post Office, which was destroyed in a fire in 1950.
- The station is designed to be environmentally friendly, with solar panels on the roof that generate a significant portion of the building’s energy needs.
- The station is also equipped with a rainwater collection system, which is used to irrigate the building’s green spaces and flush its toilets.
- Kyoto Station is a popular destination for tourists, but it is also an important hub for local commuters and a symbol of Kyoto’s modernization and urban development.