Arashiyama district is located north-west of Kyoto in Japan and is at the base of the beautiful “Storm Mountains.” The iconic Arashiyama Bamboo Forest in Kyoto is one of the most beautiful and serene places where you can hear the sound of nature. This district has been a very popular tourist destination for ages, since the Heian period starting from the 8th century.
- 1. Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
- 2. Togetsukyo Bridge
- 3. Iwatayama Monkey Park
- 4. Kameyama-kÅen Park
- 5. Cormorant Fishing (Ukai)
- 6. Katsura Rikyu Imperial Villa
- 7. Sagano Scenic Railway
- 8. Kimono Forest
- 9. Lions roar garden Hogon-in
- a. Tenryu ji temple
- b. Daikakuji Temple
- c. Adashino-Nembutsu-ji Temple
- d. Nisonin Temple
- e. Gio-ji Temple
- f. Jojako-ji Temple
- g. Otagi Nenbutsu-Ji Temple
- Local Lodging & Dining
- How to get here?
Kyoto is located on the island of Honshu and has a population of around 1.50 million. It was the capital of Japan for 11 centuries. The Emperor of Japan shifted the capital to Tokyo in 1869. Kyoto is considered to be the cultural capital of Japan for a long time. It was spared from any major destruction during World War II. It has turned into a major tourist destination for people across the globe.
It has numerous Buddhist temples, Shinto Shrines, Palaces, and huge Gardens. All of which have pushed UNESCO to list many of them under the cultural heritage site. For signifying the places which need to be protected. The high number of ancient temples in Kyoto encouraged India to sign a Kyoto Varanasi partner city agreement. The agreement was signed to develop the ancient city of Varanasi as a smart heritage city on similar lines.
Here are some of the must-visit places here.
1. Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
This bamboo grove is a 10 to 15-minute walk from the station. At the entrance to the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest are lined up some local eateries and souvenir shops for the tourists. The entrance is free for everyone any time of the day and year. This is undeniably the most famous tourist spot in this Kyoto neighbourhood.
This place is crowded with people, and you might find it more serene if the visit is early in the morning — the long unending pathways between miles of tall bamboo trees on either side. The wind giving out musical whispering rustling sounds has earned the Arashiyama bamboo forest a recognition as one of the best soundscapes in Japan. This forest gives an out of the planet, unique, unreal, dreamy experience. Doesn’t matter which way you choose to travel through it, either taking a long walk or a long bike ride. A bike ride also enables you to take a slightly offbeat route to explore the forest more thoroughly.
During December, you can see the illuminated Arashiyama bamboo forest in the night from 5:30 to 8:30 for about 10 days during the festival of lights called Arashiyama Hanatouro illumination. A walking guided tour is also available. This is one of the most photographed tourist spots here. You can click a few to cherish the beautiful memories for a long time ahead.
The Moon Crossing Bridge is the most iconic landmark of Arashiyama. The original bridge built during the Heian period was reconstructed during the 1930s. The mountainside green background gives it an attractive look. It has an adjacent riverside park with cherry trees for tourists to relax. It is a 155Mt long bridge built across the Katsura River. It is a popular destination for film shooting also. You can also have a glimpse of the Japanese cormorant fishing done near the bridge on summer nights.
3. Iwatayama Monkey Park
This park is home to Japanese Macaques, a large Monkey species. They allow the tourists to feed peanuts to the monkeys in this park. This park can be reached by crossing the Togetsukyo Bridge, and the entrance fee is about Yens 550. You need to walk about 30 minutes from the gate to reach the monkey enclosure.
4. Kameyama-kÅen Park
This is a lovely hilltop park located next to the river. You can visit this park during the Cherry blossom and autumn seasons to savour the colourful Cherry blossoms in full bloom. You might also catch a glimpse of monkeys descending onto the park to pick on the fruits. You can reach this place by walking either from the Arashiyama bamboo forest or from the Tenryu ji temple side. If you walk uphill a bit, you can have a nice view of the Hozugawa River and also Kyoto. One big advantage of this lovely colourful place is that this is relatively less crowded compared to other public places in the neighbourhood.
5. Cormorant Fishing (Ukai)
The traditional fishing method of Italy, called ukai, using cormorants. It is practiced from July to late September in the Hozugawa River in Arashiyama. The river is one of about a dozen rivers in Japan where this is practiced. Tourists can observe the fishing action from paid sightseeing oar boat rides or from ashore. These oar type boats depart from the boat pier near the Togetsukyo Bridge and cost about Yens 4000. Boats travel downhill covering about 16Km in about 1.5 hrs to 2 hours.
6. Katsura Rikyu Imperial Villa
Katsura Rikyu Imperial Villa is regarded as the pinnacle of Japanese architecture. The huge garden here is the best example of Japanese gardening techniques. This is a national treasure and a cultural heritage site.
The Sagano Scenic Railway runs seven kilometers from Arashiyama to nearby Kameoka, alongside the river Hozugawa River. This route offers a beautiful view of nature, and the lovely scenery can be easily taken in by the visitors. The train travels at a speed of only about 25 km/h during its 25-minute journey.
8. Kimono Forest
This is a forest of a different kind, textiles! Kimono forest is located outside of Arashiyama station. It has some of the most beautiful Kimono textiles cast on cylindrical posts and dyed using the conventional Kyo-yuzen technique. Artist Yasumuchi Mortia creates these. During the night this place gets, even more, enchanting with each pillar being illuminated with LED light.
9. Lions roar garden Hogon-in
This is an awesome place known for its temple and even more for its colorful garden. The main deity here is the eleven faced Kannon and jizo Bodhisattva. The paintings here depict 33 incarnations of Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy. This place is also known for its beautiful Lions roar garden, Shishiku no Niwa, which was designed in the 16th century.
A visit to Kyoto and its Arashiyama neighborhood is never complete without visiting some of the ancient Buddhist temples and shrines. You can spend some time here to look inwards, find peace with yourselves. The vibrations here are very positive, and you can get recharged after your hectic schedule of travelling, hard work, family and work-related stress accumulated over the years. Some of the famous temples are listed out below for your bucket list of places to visit in Kyoto and Arashiyama.
You can club the visit to the Tenryu ji temple with the Arashiyama Bamboo forest. This Zen temple has large beautiful gardens, buildings, and a beautiful Mountain View. This Tenryu ji temple is amongst the 5 great Zen temples. It is the largest and the most attractive of them in Arashiyama. Founded in 1339 at the beginning of the Muromachi Period (1338-1573), and this is one of Kyoto's many UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Daikakuji is a very large temple and is the highest-ranked one amongst the Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism. Beside the main temple, there is a large pond and a pagoda. This is a temple where you can feel the old imperial court atmosphere. The temple also has a mention in Tale of Genji, the first novel in the Japanese language. An English audio guide voice takes you through the temple history. One of its important collections is the Heart Sutra written by the Emperor Saga. It was written to end the deadly plague that was sweeping the region at that time. It is kept in the Heart Sutra hall and is opened to public display only once in 60 years.
This temple was founded in the 9th century by the famous monk Kobo Dashi. The place where he honoured the dead by installing stone statues in memory of the departed souls. This practice caught on over the centuries, and as of now, the temple grounds are covered with such stone statues whose number has surpassed 8000. It is mainly for the dead souls who died alone without any kith or kin. On Aug 23rd and 24th, more than 1000 candles are lit here to remember the departed spirits in a festival called Sento Kuyo. This Adashino Nenbutsuji temple is located at the end of the Saga-Toriimoto Preserved Street, which is a street still preserved in the Meiji Period (1868-1912) style. This street offers a peek into the merchant town during that period. This street offers traditional Kyoto cuisine and shopping in its small Meiji period shops scattered along the street.
This Nisonin Temple is also a hillside temple by the side of Mt Ogura with imposing buildings. This Tendai sect temple was founded in the 9th century. You can have a lovely view of the city from the top of the hills. This is best known for its lovely maple and cherry lined arcade leading to the main halls.
The tiny Gio-ji Temple is one of the most scenic spots in Arashiyama. The temple gate and the main hall have thatched-roofs. This temple is located in a denser part of the forest than other bigger temples. This is known for its moss garden that has tall maple trees scattered all over.
f. Jojako-ji Temple
This is also a mountainside temple which was founded in 1596. This Jojako-ji temple has small and attractive buildings with a very serene and peaceful atmosphere. The path leading to the temple is lined with Maple trees and moss to welcome the tourists. Visitors can have fantastic views of Kyoto from many spots on the hill side.
This is some walking distance from the Arashiyama bamboo groves and is one of the most beautiful temples in this area. Otagi Nenbutsu-Ji is a secluded Buddhist temple, which houses over 1200 rakans covered in moss. The disciples of Buddha are depicted as stone statues. Any interested person or disciple can donate a rakan statue. All installed stone statues here have been donated, with a majority of them being sculpted by non-professional sculptors.
If you need to go sightseeing but have an issue with walking, a rickshaw can also be engaged to get a glimpse of all the major tourist spots in Arashiyama.
Local Lodging & Dining
Instead of staying in a conventional hotel, you can stay in a ryokan. The Ryokan is a traditional Japanese style accommodation where you can experience their old culture, cuisine, clothing, building layouts, and even beds.
Some of the best of such ryokans in Arashiyama are Ryotei Rangetsu, Kyoto Ranzan, Togetsutei, Arashiyama Benkai and many more. Some of the ryokans offer both western and Japanese style rooms having tatami mats, floor seating places, sliding doors. You can divide your stay time between the two types.
What’s the typical Japanese food except sushi? Tempura, ramen, yakitori, kaiseki, udon, soba, sashimi, Kare-Raisu and sukiyaki, you name it. Vegetarian food may be somewhat difficult to find in any part of Japan with fish being a part of almost any dish. A few of such pure vegetarian dishes which you need to be aware of are mocha, eggplant, Kushimono, daikon, and nori seaweed.
How to get here?
You can very easily travel to Arashiyama from Kyoto as three railway lines service it and you can take a line convenient to you from Kyoto. You can also travel to the place by Taxi, Subway, and buses from Kyoto.
A visit to theArashiyama Bamboo foresthas to be somewhere on top of the list.Arashiyama bamboo grove is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Kyoto. And standing amid these soaring stalks of bamboo is like being in another world.