Arashiyama Bamboo Forest is the name given to a whole area in the western part of Kyoto where you can spend at least half a day. The bamboo grove is open to visitors 24 hours and free. You can get there in about 30 minutes by taking the Hankyu Train from the Kawaramachi Station which is located in the middle of Kyoto City. There are so many things to do in Arashiyama from the romantic train ride to the monkey park, the picturesque forest to historic temples.

 

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest and Top 10 Things to Do Nearby

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, Guitar photographer

Since the early Heian period, Arashiyama has maintained its image of being a popular destination for locals and travelers. When visiting Arashiyama you will see and experience many different sights and sounds. The streets are crowded with tourists walking about, and as you explore Arashiyama you will find yourself by the Katsura River and the Togetsukyo Bridge. When you turn to look down the river, you can see its natural beauty and that of the mountains beyond. You will also notice many boats traveling the river with people enjoying the ride, as well as people walking on trails that course through the mountain so they can see the sights from above. This is just a small taste of the beauty and historic feel you can get as you enter and explore Arashiyama.

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

Address: Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-0000, Japan (map)

Website: kyoto.travel

Hours: Open 24 hours

Phone: +81758610012

 

Bamboo Grove in Arashiyama

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Role Bigler

Arashiyama is famous for its natural beauty, but the highlight of this wondrous part of Kyoto is the bamboo grove situated near the heart of Arashiyama. Bamboo has been a significant part of Japanese society and culture, representing resilience and passion as it is the fastest growing plant in Japan. It is said that some bamboo species can grow 35 inches in one day. During the Heian Period, many aristocrats used to travel and visit places like this to get out and see what nature has to offer. Soon after, many Japanese would travel to Arashiyama to enjoy the bamboo forests. This is a must-visit location when you visit Arashiyama, you won’t want to miss out. 

 

Togetsukyo Bridge in Arashiyama

Togetsukyo Bridge, Arishiyama, Western Kyoto, Japan, on a normal day

Togetsukyo Bridge, Arishiyama, Western Kyoto, Geoff Whalan

Right at the center of Arashiyama is the Togetsukyo Bridge. This 155-meter long bridge was first built during the Heian period, but like many old Japanese buildings, it has been rebuilt several times since it was first constructed. It was last fully restored in 1934. From the bridge, you can see the coursing river and many of the other adventures that await you. You will naturally find yourself crossing this bridge multiple times as you explore these sights and wonders. 

 

Tenryu-ji Temple in Arashiyama

Tenryu-ji Temple

Tenryu-ji Temple, Amol Panchabhai

This extensive temple was constructed back in 1339 by Shogun Ashikaga Takauji as a way to honor the life of Emperor Go-Daigo, who passed away during the same year of its construction. It has seen many hardships and has been ravaged by 6 fires throughout the 14th and 15th centuries. This was followed by other fires in 1815, and a particularly devastating fire in 1864 during the early stages of the Bosin war. It has most recently been restored in 1934, and since then you can now view this monumental piece of history. From the living quarters to the Zendo you can marvel at the beauty of this Temple.

Later, as you walk through the garden you can let go and enjoy the natural surroundings of this temple. After you finish relaxing and enjoying a sense of peace within these walls, you can exit through the north gate of the temple which will put you right at the heart of Arashiyama, the Bamboo Grove. 

Tenryu-ji Temple

Address: Japan, 〒616-8385 Kyoto, Ukyo Ward, Sagatenryuji Susukinobabacho, 68 (map)

Website: tenryuji.com

Hours: Monday – Sunday 8:30AM–5:30PM

Phone: +81758811235

 

Iwatayama Monkey Park

Monkeys

Monkey at Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama, Amy Jane Mitchell

On the other side of the river, you will notice a path going upwards. If you take this path and walk up the hill for about 30 minutes, you will reach the Iwatayama Monkey Park. This is a national conservatory of Japanese macaques frequented by locals and international travelers.  There are so many cute monkeys that are conserved in their natural habitat. You can feed them and it is a good family activity. You are not allowed to touch monkeys and they may sometimes get aggressive. The entrance fee to the monkey park is 550 JPY.

Iwatayama Monkey Park

Address: Japan, 〒616-0004 Kyoto, Nishikyo Ward, Arashiyama Nakaoshitacho, 61 (map)

Website: monkeypark.jp

Hours: Monday – Sunday 9AM–4PM

Phone: +81758720950

 

Okochi Sanso Villa & Garden

Okochi Sanso Villa 小河内山荘

Okochi Sanso Villa 小河内山荘, Patrick Vierthaler

This is by far my most favorite place in Arashiyama. It is also quieter than other parts as many visitors skip it because of the 1000 JPY entrance which in my opinion is totally worth it. The entrance fee also includes a simple pack of sweets and tea. Okochi Sanso is a beautiful villa that was built and taken care of by the famous actor Denjiro Okochi. This villa has some of the most stunning views in Arashiyama and covers up around 20,000 square meters.

The areas surrounding the villa are mostly taken up by the Gardens that Denjiro Okochi painstakingly created over 30 years, from the age of 34 until his death. The garden has many highlights such as the Tekisuian (Japanese tea house), Jibutsudo (Buddhist shrine), and the Denjiro Okochi Archive. Okochi Sanso is a wondrous sight that you won’t want to miss, so you too can be captivated by the wonderful view, just as Denjiro Okochi was. The place opens at 9:00 AM and closes at 5:00 PM. 

Okochi Sanso Villa & Garden

Address: 8 Sagaogurayama Tabuchiyamacho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-8394, Japan (map)

Website: kanko.city.kyoto.lg.jp

Hours: Monday – Sunday 9AM–5PM

Phone: +81758722233

 

Kudari Boat Ride

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto, bethom33

Kudari are riverboat rides that have played an integral role in the life of the Japanese people in this region. These boats were not only for the transportation of people but, they were also used to transport wood all across Japan. A lot of this wood was used to build many of the temples and buildings in the area around Arashiyama and beyond. The Kudari lost much of its purpose with the completion of the JR Sanin line, but the rides on the river remained so popular that they are still available to visitors to this day.

You can enjoy the beauty and natural sites of the foothills in the area from the center of the river as well as purchase a small snack to eat as you calmly ride up and down the river. Your access to them is near Togetsukyo bridge as you make it to the side opposite Arashiyama Station. 

Kudari Boat Ride

Address: Shimonakajima-2 Hozucho, Kameoka, Kyoto 621-0005, Japan (map)

Website: hozugawakudari.jp

Hours: Monday – Sunday 9AM–3PM

Phone: +81771225846

 

Sagano Romantic Train Ride

Sagano Romantic Train

Sagano Romantic Train, : : Ys [waiz] : :

In Arashiyama, don’t forget to take the romantic Sagano train ride which is an open-air train during the summer months. This for sure a unique sightseeing activity though may not be ideal in the Wintertime. Interestingly, this activity is very common among Asian visitors while the majority of Western visitors skip it. For 25 minutes, the ride will show the city’s beauty in any season, such as the changing leaves in autumn and spring’s cherry blossoms.

The train ride starts at Saga torokko station and ends at Kameoka torokko station, following the picture-perfect Hozukyo Ravine along the way. The train runs daily, except Wednesdays, from 09:00 AM to 04:00 PM. The ticket price is 620 JPY for adults.

Sagano Romantic Train Ride

Address: 11-1 Sagatenryuji Kurumamichicho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-8373, Japan (map)

Website: jr-odekake.net

 

Daikaku-ji Temple

Daikaku-ji is a beautiful temple that is just a short 15-minute walk away from Saga Arashiyama station. This temple was built during the early stages of the Heian period by Emperor Saga around 1200 years ago. It was originally constructed to be his villa, but it was soon converted into a temple after his death. Daikaku-ji today also has one of the oldest man-made ponds in Japan called the Osawa pond.

This pond is home to hundreds of lily pads and you can take a boat ride out onto it during Otsukimi, the moon-viewing festival, in Autumn. Along with the pond, the temple has a beautiful pagoda and arch bridge for you to see and admire while visiting the temple grounds. 

Daikaku-ji Temple

Address: 4 Sagaosawacho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-8411, Japan (map)

Website: daikakuji.or.jp

Hours: Monday – Sunday 9AM–4:30PM

Phone: +81758710071

 

Kimono Forest

Kimono Forest Arashiyama

Kimono Forest Arashiyama, Basile Morin

The Kimono Forest was added during the renovation of the Randen tram station of the Keifuku Arashiyama line in 2013. It consists of 600 2-meter tall pillars. Wrapped around each pillar is kimono fabric dyed in the Kyo-yuzen style from the Edo period. Just looking at these pillars and the beautiful designs of their fabric let you think about how beautiful the kimonos must have been.

This may not have the same history or natural significance as some of the other sights in Arashiyama, but it is a beautiful sight and nice walk. It is especially recommended to end your day in Arashiyama here. As the days end and as it gets darker these pillars light up brilliantly allowing you to take some enchanting photos. 

Kimono Forest

Address: 35-28 Sagatenryuji Tsukurimichicho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-8384, Japan (map)

Website: kyotoarashiyama.jp

Hours: Open 24 hours

Phone: +81758732121

 

Gio-ji Temple

Gio-ji Temple is all that remains of the once-great Ojo-in temple. Gio-ji is currently a small branch temple of Daikaku-ji. But that is not the only thing interesting about this temple. This temple is quite unique in the fact that it is a Buddhist nunnery, which is not all too common. While it isn’t the largest or most accessible temple in Arashiyama, the charming moss garden and trees definitely make it worth the visit. It is an especially beautiful location to visit during seasonal changes. If you are around during spring or autumn you definitely don’t want to miss out. 

Gio-ji Temple

Address: 32 Sagatoriimoto Kozakacho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-8435, Japan (map)

Website: giouji.or.jp

Hours: Monday – Sunday 9AM–4:30PM

Phone: +81758613574

 

Katsura Imperial Villa

Katsura Imperial Villa

Katsura Imperial Villa, M_Strasser

Katsura Imperial Villa is one of the most historically important landmarks in Kyoto. It was once used by members of the aristocracy as a place to relax during the Edo period. It has a beautiful garden laid out across interconnected islands. As you go from one island to the next you can feel a different experience each time.

Although just so you know to enter the villa you are required to go through a group organized tour by the Imperial Household Agency. The tours are in Japanese but English audio guides are available on the tours. These tours are well worth it so you too can experience the relaxation that the aristocrats of old must’ve felt.

Katsura Imperial Villa

Address: Katsuramisono, Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto, 615-8014, Japan (map)

Website: sankan.kunaicho.go.jp

Hours: Open 24 hours

Phone: +81752111215

 

Arashiyama Hiking Trails

Mt Atago, Japan

Mt Atago, Japan, Andrew Allan Jpn

If you are more adventurous or love nature there are numerous hiking trails around Arashiyama. These trails take you through the small range of mountains in the area along the Katsuya river. From the early parts of the trail, you can go off through various fields and parks and you can enjoy the view of the sounding parts of Arashiyama from above. You can easily spend hours upon hours enjoying the natural sights that these trails have to offer.

These hikes although are best experienced during the morning, if you venture out too late it can get quite dark along these trails. Also, going out during the morning allows you to relax in one of the many cafes within the Arashiyama area during the lovely sunny afternoons.

 

Did you know?

Arashiyama is a historically significant site of nature and culture. This location has been an important site since the beginning of the Heian period which took place over 1200 years ago. The Heian period was a great period of enlightenment in Japan. Many of the nobles during this time would enjoy their lives by seeking out nature to experience all of the wonders it has to offer. Arashiyama would become a popular destination for many of these nobles since it was quite close to the capital and maintained a peaceful and exquisite environment. 

 

Summary

Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple

Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple, Aussie Assault

Everyone knows the Arashiyama Sagano bamboo forest but not many know about the sandal ride.  With an amazing view in the Spring and Fall, you will have an amazing Kyoto experience right next to the Sagano bridge. Additionally, the zen gardens in Okochi Sanso and Tenryuji temples in Arashiyama are the most tranquil Japanese gardens.

Tip: Must go very early or late in the afternoon otherwise the place gets packed. This place is outside the downtown area and consists of many temples and shrines, so spare a half-day. There are many cafes and restaurants so don’t worry about the food. The bamboo grove you see in the pictures is only a small part but still a nice area to visit.

Tip: After a 30-minute hike you will reach the Iwatayama Monkey Park where many cute monkeys are conserved in their natural habitat. You can feed them and it is a good family activity. If you want to spend the whole day in Arashiyama then you may also check the Otagi Nenbutsuji temple with thousands of Buddha statues. Also for honeymooners, there is this famous romantic train ride.

Arashiyama

Total rating: 4.5
avatarRumples
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Historic and Beautiful
Arashiyama is one of my favorite places to go when visiting Kyoto. It is a town and district that starts at the base of the city's western hills, designated by Japan as both a Historic Site and Place of Scenic Beauty. My most recent trip here occurred in October 2019 when I took a traveling companion to see the area. We started at the Arashiyama end station for the Keifuku Randen Tram Line, a fun way to travel through neighborhoods that most tourists don't see. This station features a stunning art installation, known as the Kimono Forest. The work displays 600 cylinder-shaped poles with traditionally dyed textile pieces, protected by transparent coverings. The poles cluster close together and flank a curving path, giving the impression of walking in the forest. Temples and shrines abound. Tenryuji, a zen temple dating back to 1339 and a World Heritage Site, is perhaps the most interesting. We went through this temple's beautiful garden and walked to the North gate to exit and enter the nearby Bamboo Grove. It features soaring thick stalks on both sides of a broad walking path. Just off the grove sprawls Okochi-Sanso Villa, where the famous silent film actor Denjiro Okochi lived and where the grounds may be visited for an admission fee. A monkey park exists in Arashiyama as well as the iconic Togetsu-Ko Bridge and the opportunity to watch cormorant fishing. Rental boats and bicycles are available. Restaurants, fast food and souvenir shops line the town's main street. As Arashiyama is an extremely popular tourist attraction, I recommend coming here early on a weekday when the crowds have yet to form. Based on experience, try to avoid a weekend visit.

avatarhfot2 🌸🍁🌸
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Stay overnight for a different experience
We have visited here many times. For our November 2019 visit, we decided we would stay for 3 nights to be fully immersed in the place. One advantage of staying for several nights is that you have a lot of freedom to decide where to go and when to go. You can check out the crowds, the weather, and, in our case, the state of play of the foliage. Day trippers are encouraged to come early to avoid the crowds - if you spend the night, it is very easy to do this and the first hour or so of the morning you almost have the area to yourself. Another advantage of staying overnight is you don’t feel rushed to see everything possible in one day; you can spend time walking the back streets and neighborhoods to get a feel for the place and not just rush through the tourist hot spots. We found a few small neighborhood temples which were very peaceful and were likely never visited by many tourists. One disadvantage of staying overnight is that most restaurants close early. We self-catered for 2 of the 3 nights, taking a very long walk to the supermarket from our hotel to stock up for 2 evening meals so we could cook in our hotel suite’s microwave. The hotel staff could not believe that we walked the distance from the hotel to the Fresco Saga Supermarket and back, but we did. Stay overnight, even for one night if you can, it’s worth it.

avatarThe GeesTravel
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Touristy Place
Located about 25mins from center of Kyoto. A place where a lot of bamboos. Touristy place. We went in around 2pm, where there number of people along the road. I guess it be good to visit early in the morning, where less crowd. And can enjoy the great view of bamboos.

avatarJodiejones
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Like a dream
Incredible! Visiting the bamboo grove was by far our favourite day in Kyoto. If you want nice photos I recommend going there very early. We arrived around 6.30am and it was beautiful. There were not too many people there however when it got to around 8am the crowds started gathering.

avatarHotRodHeart
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Don't be fooled by the photos. And also... This is not the wilderness, it's a place of business
Lets be clear, its' a nice place. But most of the time, you will not enjoy a peaceful stroll in a bamboo grove, feeling like you traveled the old days of the samurai... Instead, you will be surrounded by Instagram photo snapping tourists, and many shouting to each other like no one else is there. And most yukata wearing girls you'll see will be tourists. It's also important to remember that this is not some wild bamboo field laying around for tourists to enjoy. The owners are cultivating bamboos to use them and sell them for craftmen. So please refrain from writing your name on it, or throwing your trash around...

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