The Aoniyoshi is a luxury sightseeing train operated by Kintetsu Railways connecting Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto. The word "Aoniyoshi" was a classical poetic term used to refer to Nara in the Man’yoshu, the oldest collection of Japanese poetry published in 759 during the Nara period. The color of the train, the patterns and motifs within the interior have all been designed to celebrate ancient Nara. To complete the theme, the food and drinks available on board are also local to Nara.
We took the Aoniyoshi from Kyoto Station back to Kintetsu Nara Station and the whole journey took less than 35 minutes. It goes without saying that Kyoto Station is an impressive building. Although fast approaching 30 years of age, the glass and metal geometric structure retains a sense of futurism and dynamism that cannot be ignored. It's quite simply a joy to behold.
Its 15 floors incorporate a department store, dozens of cafes and restaurants as well as local government facilities, a sky garden, a hotel, and a movie theatre. Designed by the award-winning architect Hiroshi Hara and opened in September of 1997, Kyoto Station is the second-largest station building in the country and subsequently one of Japan's largest buildings.
The Kintetsu part of Kyoto Station is located on the Ground Floor at the far end of the station to the right. After entering Kyoto Station, you'll walk past the main entrance of Isetan Department Store on the right, then the ticket gates to the JR lines on your left - continuing straight ahead down some short escalators, then heading right towards the Kintetsu Line.
With the vast number of people ferrying through the station all around you, it can feel a tad overwhelming, but there are numerous signposts hanging from the ceiling which are easy to understand, and should you run into any difficulties, station staff is always ready to lend a helping hand.
The Aoniyoshi train is a refurbished version of the Kintetsu 12200 series from the 1960s and 1970s, known at the time as "The New Snack Car." It is made up of 4 cars with 84 seats in total. Cars 1, 3 and 4 feature oversized plush green twin chairs. Each twin set comes with a table and side lamp and is laid out in two configurations. One side of the train's chairs face the large windows offering great views of the passing scenery and on the opposite side, the chairs face each other.
Car 2 is arranged much differently. Divided by partitions to create semi-private rooms for groups of 3 or 4 people, the salon car offers passengers an extra touch of VIP travel. The sales counter is also located in Car 2. Here you can purchase items such as the limited edition Sheraton Miyako Hotel Osaka’s raisin and chestnut butter sandwiches, Daibutsu purin puddings, fruit juice from Nara Prefecture, bottled beer and draft beer from one of Nara's popular microbreweries and a selection of other snacks and soft drinks.
The eye-catching deep sangria purple used for the color of the train is no accident either. Purple was considered the color of nobility even during the Tenpyo Era (729-749), so it was chosen for the Aoniyoshi to further enhance the sense of luxury. The regal connection continues in knowing that the late Queen Elizabeth II traveled on this train from Kyoto to Ise in 1975 as did Emperor Hirohito and his family for their visits to Ise Shrine and Kashihara Jjingu Shrine.
The gold crest at the front of the train represents 'Hanakuidori', a mythical bird that is thought to bring good luck. The carriage interior also features elaborate “Tenpyo” mandala-like patterns of birds and flowers that are all associated with Nara during its time as the nation's capital.
Power outlets to recharge your devices
Large luggage compartment Cars No. 1, 3 and 4 are equipped with a luggage compartment for large carry-on bags and other items, allowing passengers with large luggage to board with peace of mind
Restrooms The restroom in Car No. 3 is barrier-free and can be used by anyone without worry. It has a diaper-changing bed, baby chair, and an automatic door
An onboard library containing books about the railway lines (Car 4)
Fees and Timetables
The Aoniyoshi make 8 trips during the day with the vast majority running back and forth between Kyoto and Nara. The first train leaves Osaka-Namba at 9:15 AM and gets to Kintetsu Nara at 9:51 AM. After a short wait, it then leaves at 9:56 AM for Kyoto, arriving at 10:33. The final trip leaves Kyoto at 4:20 PM and arrives at Kintetsu Nara at 4:55 PM. It departs 5 minutes later on its final leg to Osaka-Namba, arriving at 5:34 PM. These are the current times for weekdays at the time of publishing. Please be aware that the first and last train times for Saturdays and holidays differ slightly.
The full timetable can be found here.
As there are three routes, there are of course 3 separate price structures, with Osaka-Namba to Kyoto being the most expensive. The prices are further divided into two categories depending on whether you are traveling alone or in a group of 2 or more. If you are traveling in a group of 2 or more, the price per person for a one-way Kyoto⇄Nara ticket is ¥1,370 and ¥690 for children. The price is the same per person for a group of 3 or 4 using the salon car. The fare breaks as follows:
*Please note that the salon car is only available for groups of 3 or 4
Ltd. Express Charge
Special Car Fare
If you were to make the same trip as a single passenger using one of the twin seats, the fare is ¥1,740 for adults and ¥1,060 for children. The fare breaks as follows:
Ltd. Express Charge
Special Car Fare
The fares for Osaka-Namba⇄Nara and Osaka-Namba⇄Kyoto are a little different.
The Aoniyoshi is not a regular commuter train, so prior reservation is necessary.
You can purchase tickets at any Kintetsu station ticket counter with the following symbol.
You can also buy your tickets online via their dedicated webpage. The web pages are written in clear English and are easy to navigate.
Kintetsu Nara Station
Nara Station is the terminal station on the Nara line offering direct access to Kohfuku-ji Temple, Nara-machi, Nara Park, JR Nara Station and the UNESCO World Heritage Sites Todai-ji Temple and Kasuga Taisha Grand Shrine. With bus stations and taxi ranks right in front of the station, it serves 10s of thousands of passengers a day.
The two main exits lead out to Konishi Sakuradoori Street and the famed Goyoki statue just in front of Higashimuki Shopping Street. From here, NARA Visitor Center is just a 7-minute walk away.
The following video is a quick run-through of how to get from the Gyoki statue water fountain to our facility.
For just a little extra money, the Kintetsu Aoniyoshi Sightseeing Express offers a perfect way to travel to your next amazing sightseeing destination while indulging in a touch of luxury and extra comfort.
This beautiful train turns a simple journey from one city to another into an event in itself and we can't recommend it enough!!
Along with the Aoniyoshi, Kintetsu Railways operate 2 other special sightseeing trains. The Blue Symphony, which runs from Osaka-Abenobashi to Yoshino and The Shimakaze which connects the Ise-Shima region to Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya.
We recently took a trip on the Blue Symphony and you can read all about it here.
Author: NARA Visitor Center & Inn