Struggling under the weight of a post-COVID resurgence in tourism, Kyoto is considering establishing express buses to take visitors to popular sightseeing spots almost directly from its main train station to reduce crowding on city buses and stress on local residents.

The city government said it is looking to introduce in June "a sightseeing express bus" that can travel to major tourism sites such as Kiyomizu temple and the geisha district of Gion with fewer stops from Kyoto Station, a gateway for tourists to the ancient capital.

The government plans to set fares on the express buses at ¥500 ($3) for adults and ¥250 for children, about double the price of respective tickets on city buses.

Japan has seen a spike in tourism since lifting COVID-19 border control steps in April 2023, with the yen's weakness helping drive visitor numbers, and Kyoto is considered by most as a must-see destination.

With a population of around 1.44 million and more than 40 million domestic and foreign visitors hosted in 2022, Kyoto is emblematic of the "overtourism" issue that is disrupting local communities across Japan.

For tourists, city buses are a convenient way to visit attractions including the famed golden pavilion at the Kinkaku-ji temple and Fushimi Inari Taisha, a shrine boasting thousands of red torii gates, using a single-day all-you-can-ride pass. It is not uncommon for a bus to be so crowded that waiting passengers are unable to board.

In a bid to dissuade tourists from using local bus services, the city government aims to include access to the sightseeing express bus on the ¥1,100 single-day pass.

"By easing congestion through splitting routes people use, we hope to achieve a balance between everyday life and tourism," an official at the Kyoto city government's transportation bureau said.