Getting around Japan is a piece of cake, especially when you are from California, like me. Cars aren't as important here. Walking, riding trains, and jumping on a bike are. The train system in Kansai is great, however I've found it to be a little more confusing (especially in Osaka) than in Tokyo. Also, places like Kyoto, there are several different train companies, meaning you have to get off one line and get on another, which not only takes time, but takes more out of your wallet.
Kyoto is a small area considering it's 1.5 million plus population. Consider walking and riding a bike when you are getting around Kyoto, itself. It's cheaper, it's healthier, and actually I think, in some cases, it's a little faster.
Guide section: Transports
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