Frequently Asked Questions

For general questions about Japan, KCB recommends Japan National Tourist Organization's (JNTO) excellent FAQ section on their website
The questions listed here are restricted to those specifically about Kyoto and have a bias towards event planners. If your question about event planning in Kyoto is not answered here, please Contact KCB.

What is Kyoto Convention Bureau?

Kyoto Convention Bureau is an independent not-for-profit organisation that is working to promote Kyoto as a convention destination. Our goal is to provide as many services as possible at little to no cost to people holding a convention or like event in Kyoto. We also provide support for the bidding process of events where the site is as yet undecided. Our full service outline is described in the Support for Conferences page.

Can I get tourist information from KCB? Can you send tourist information pamphlets?

Kyoto Convention Bureau is not a tourist information office, therefore if you need tourist information please see the links from the Sightseeing and Links pages. You can also obtain a printable Kyoto Map and Kyoto Tourist Guidebook for free from the Download Centre.

Meeting and event organisers are welcome to Contact KCB for details of tourist information pamphlets that we can provide in support of your event in Kyoto.

Is Kyoto easily reachable from abroad?

Kyoto is just 75 minutes from Japan's second international gateway Kansai International Airport. It is also within convenient transfer time to Tokyo Narita Airport and Centrair in Nagoya. Flight time to Japan from Europe is around 10 hours, about the same as from the west coast of North America and Sydney. Full details of how to get to Kyoto from the airport is presented in the Access page.

Can I get by without knowing Japanese?

Yes. Kyoto is Japan's primary tourist destination and has the infrastructure in place to make your stay enjoyable and stress-free. Subway and train station signs are clearly marked not only in Japanese but also in English, Chinese and Korean for easy comprehension. Buses post their destinations in English and Japanese, and stops are announced in English as well on board making it even easier for the visitor to navigate the city. Restaurants that do not have bilingual or pictorial menus are becoming a small minority; also shop assistants and taxi drivers are more than likely to be able to understand your needs. Furthermore, residents are friendly to visitors: if you speak in slow simple clear English you are likely to be understood and the person you ask is likely to be able and willing to help.

If you are intending to do business direct in Kyoto, please feel free to Contact KCB for advice on how and where to approach suppliers.

Will I be able to navigate the city transportation system with ease?

Yes! Kyoto is the most popular tourist destination in Japan and has an appropriate visitor-friendly infrastructure. A range of rail and bus services provide a comprehensive network throughout the city with signs and announcements presented in English and Japanese as well as Korean and Chinese too. For details on the City Subway and City Bus networks see the Kyoto Transport Department

As a meeting organiser you can make your event even more appealing to delegates by arranging the unlimited travel discounted Convention Pass. Please feel free to Contact KCB for more information.

Will I have dining options other than sushi in Kyoto?

Along side the excellent sushi restaurants you will be able to experience the very best and most traditional Japanese cuisine as well as a cosmopolitan offering of international fare in Kyoto. What is more, Japan has a highly developed eating-out culture, which means you can eat as reasonably (breakfast, lunch & dinner for a few hundred yen each) or as extravagantly as you wish. For more details see the Dining page and download the Kyoto Restaurant Guide from the Download Centre. As further recognition, since its first publication in 2010 Michelin has consistently rated Kyoto the world's most starred city (second only to Tokyo!).

Menus at conferences and receptions can be tailored precisely to your needs. Kyoto venues have even produced a Passover supper and allowed a delegate's personal chef full run of the kitchen!

Is Kyoto really as safe as they say?

Japan enjoys a violent crime rate that is much lower than most Western countries, as well as only rare incidences of pick pocketing. Travellers in Kyoto feel comfortable in all areas at all times of day. This said, you are encouraged to take proper precautions that you would normally practise when you are in an unfamiliar place.

See the Global Peace Index for Japan's current ranking

What about radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant? Is Kyoto safe?

Yes. Absolutely. Kyoto is safe. Daily life and business in Kyoto was and remains completely unaffected by Kyoto the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident that occurred in Fukushima on 11th March 2011.

Further information from official sources

Isn't Kyoto, in fact the whole of Japan, expensive?

Surprisingly not! This is one of the myths that is not true. With a more than decade of price stability and exchange rates very much favouring the Euro and Dollar, travel in Japan has become very attractive financially as well. Furthermore, Kyoto has lower prices than larger cities and its wide range of restaurants and hotels makes it easy to choose according to your budget, from economy to five-star. Kyoto's philosophy of providing the very best service means that the level of cleanliness and comfort in even budget accommodation is an example to other more well known destinations. Also, the highly developed eating-out culture here means that you can enjoy a filling, healthy and delicious meal for just a few hundred yen any time of day. For those with a passion for shopping there are a number of stores in the city that display tax-free signs. Favourites with visitors are Kyoto Handicraft Center  for all your souvenirs and Taniyamamusen  for electrical items.

Tipping is not practised in Japan. Service charge and consumption tax is included in the bill for all hotels, restaurants, and taxis. The price on the bill is the price that must be paid and service is impeccable everywhere - a pleasant change from many Western countries! JNTO gives more details on prices in Japan: http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/arrange/attractions/faq.html

Convention organisers too can take advantage of the favourable pricing in Kyoto to create a memorable event that appears to have cost much more. Please Contact KCB to discuss your ideas.

What kinds of conventions are held in Kyoto?

Kyoto is perhaps most famous for the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP3) that resulted in the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. Indeed it is a popular city for government meetings such as the G8 Foreign Ministers Meeting, Asian Development Bank, ASEM Asia-Europe Meeting and Science & Technology in Society Forum (STS forum). As a leading university city Kyoto also hosts a large number of scientific and culture conferences each year. It also stands out as a destination of choice for company meetings and incentives.

What makes Kyoto different from the rest of Japan?

Kyoto was the capital of the nation for over 1000 years - the longest period of rule of any city in the country - and is today the undisputed the culture heart of Japan. Today with the population approaching 1.5 million Kyoto presents an amazing blend of modern convenience with heritage-rich tradition. It is unique within Japan in that it was virtually untouched by bombs during the second world war leaving a myriad of temples, shrines, imperial residences and a castle intact to be explored in your free time or used as an event venue. This legacy has been recognised by UNESCO in designating 17 separate locations here as World Cultural Heritage sites that prove to be popular excursion destinations. It is also home to 47 institutions of higher learning and research, and half of all Japanese Nobel laureates have been Kyoto University researchers making the city a leading academic centre and attractive to scientific meeting organisers. Kyoto even uses traditional art forms to create modern technology as in the example of one company that used long-standing pottery techniques to develop high-tech ceramics for the electronics industry. The city pioneered once again in 1966 when the national government chose Kyoto to represent the country on the international meetings scene and opened the first international conference facilities and designated Kyoto to be the first International Convention City. Very few cities in the entire world can provide for your convention event needs with this harmony of culture and modernity.

What kind of convention facilities are there in Kyoto?

As well as Kyoto International Conference Center (ICC Kyoto) - Japan's first international convention centre - Kyoto provides a full range of dedicated convention facilities, hotels and special unusual venues that incorporate world-leading technologies. See Conference Facilities for more information and Contact KCB for consultation.

I want to give our delegates a really unusual experience - something they can only get in Kyoto. Any recommendations?

Kyoto offers a plethora of opportunities to show delegates true Japan. This is the place where you can get hands-on experience of many fine Japanese heritage traditions in their birthplace. KCB can assist you in arranging a reception at a cultural site such as a temple, a shrine or a castle. It is also possible to arrange for an expert instructor to guide delegates through the tea ceremony and the art of kimono wearing or any other cultural art that you want to know more about. There is also the chance here to clash swords with a samurai or pit your wits against a ninja. Furthermore you can invite Kyoto maiko and geiko geisha to dance at your reception and welcome your guests with the epitome of Kyoto hospitality. Please look over the Reception Venues, Culture Programmes and Excursions pages for ideas and feel free to Contact KCB to discuss possibilities.