Kyoto Station is one of the most impressive buildings I've seen here in Japan, or anywhere for that matter. Standing in stark contrast to the ancient temples the city is known for, this marvel of modern architecture is currently celebrating only its 10th anniversary. Featuring an open-air design that allows the breeze to blow through and the sun to shine in, it's an incredible place that serves as a great welcome to this wonderful city.
There's more than just a train station in this building. It also houses a posh, 539-room hotel, a theater, two malls, a bus station, a museum, and over two dozen restaurants. It has so many restaurants, that an entire floor is dedicated to ramen restaurants. Yes, all different ramen restaurants in one place. It's just as awesome as it sounds, and I need to continually stop myself from eating every meal there in order to try them all before I leave.
One of the things that makes Kyoto Station so unique is that you can climb up to the top of it using stairs and escalators, with different things to see on most floors (the 10th floor is the ramen floor, for example). At the top is the grassy "Happy Terrace" sitting area and panoramic views of the city. You can then look down into the station from 12 stories up, feeling like you're on ground level, and the station itself is dug into the ground. There's a skyway that you can use to walk from one end of the station to the other 10 floors up, providing views of Southern Kyoto all along the way.
It's a great place to base a trip to Kyoto, with the buses that leave from here going to every temple and major sightseeing destination in town. The best part? If you're coming to Kyoto, it's tough to miss, as most people will arrive by train and have it be the first place they see when they get here.