When we were planning our day trip out to Arashiyama we had specific sights we were hoping to see. The Arashiyama Bamboo Forest and the Iwatayama Monkey Park were both top of that list.
But we absolutely were not expecting the beauty of the Oi River and it’s surrounding areas.
As we exited the Sagano Bamboo Grove, we walked right into the middle of the Arashiyama forest that surrounds the Oi River.
We weren’t sure if we took a wrong turn somewhere along the way, because there were hardly any other people around and all of the signs were suddenly in Japanese with no English translation.
But I have never been more thankful.
The mountains surrounding the Oi River in Arashiyama provided some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever accidentally stumbled across.
The peacefulness of this place was something truly special. Coming from the bustling cities of Tokyo and Kyoto it was just so unexpected and very welcomed. We spent a lot more time in Arashiyama than we thought because of this beautiful place.
A bit about Arashiyama
Arashiyama is located just a short 30 minute train ride from Kyoto, and is the second most-important sightseeing district in Kyoto.
It’s most famous for the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, which has become a must-visit spot for anyone visiting Japan, but it is also home to many culturally significant temples and shrines.
The main street can be a little bit of a crazy place, as it is definitely a tourist highlight and there are lots of cute little cafes and restaurants to sit down and have a rest in during a huge day of sightseeing.
Check out the best places to stay in Arashiyama
Things To Do In Arashiyama
Take a walk around the surreal Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, definitely the most popular sight in Arashiyama.
Visit the Tenruji Zen Temple, which also has one of the most beautiful gardens in Kyoto and stunning views of the Arashiyama Mountains.
Other notable temples in the area include Daikakji Temple, Jojakkoji Temple, Nisonin Temple, Gioji Temple, Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple and Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple.
Experience the Oi River by boat, with a leisurely cruise along the Hozu-gawa area in a traditional wooden boat.
Walk across the Togetsukyo Bridge, one of Arashiyama’s most iconic landmarks that was built between 794 and 1185.
Hike to the top of the mountains to visit Iwatayama Monkey Park and make friends with some of the naughtiest monkeys in Japan – they will try and steal your belongings!
Explore Okochi Sanso Villa, found at the bottom of the Bamboo Grove and home to several pretty gardens and buildings, including lovely tea houses and gates. Admission includes a matcha green tea and a snack!
Stroll along Saga-Toriimoto Preserved Street – which has been preserved in the style of the Meiji Period (which lasted from 1868 to 1912). The street will lead you to the Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple.
Take a ride on the Saga Scenic Railway which runs between Arashiyama and Kameoka alongside the Hozu River. The ride takes about 25 minutes and travels at a nice slow pace to allow riders to check out the countryside.
Check out all the experiences you can have from Kyoto
If you’re coming into Arashiyama it’s a good idea to take a slow walk along the Oi River and really enjoy the beauty of the area. Depending on what season you’re visiting in, every experience will be significantly different.
We visited in summer so everything was beautifully green and lush. If you’re visiting in Spring you can expect to see the amazing cherry blossom season in full bloom. During Autumn the mountains provide a stunning variety of red, yellow and orange leaves. And in winter you can expect icy white trees from the snow.
If you have some time check out Google Images to see the difference between the seasons, it’s honestly amazing and every season seems more beautiful than the last!
Getting to Arashiyama
Arashiyama is just a short 30 minute commute from Kyoto, very easily accessbile by several all different kinds of transport.
JR Train – Take the JR Sagano Line from Kyoto Station to Sara-Arashiyama Station, where you can then get to central Arashiyama in a short 5 to 10 minute walk.
Subway – Take the Karasuma Subway Line from Kyoto Station to Karasuma-Oike Station. Change to the Tozai Subway Line heading west and get off at the last stop, Uzumasa-Tenjingawa Station. Then you need to change to the Randen Street Tram to Keifuku Arashiyama Station.
Bus – Take the Kyoto City Bus #28 from Kyoto Station and get off at Arashiyama-Tenryuji-mae.
Taxi – A taxi from downtown Kyoto will cost approximately Y2000, but due to traffic and congestion taxis and buses are not recommended as they can often include heavy traffic delays.
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I was happy that we visited in summer though. Summer is my season. I love it when the trees are green and the sky is blue and everything is hot! To escape the heat we decided to take a leisurely hour long boat ride along the Oi River in one of the traditional wooden boats that were floating up and down the river.
It was the perfect end to our time in Arashiyama and one of my favourite experiences in Japan. No trip to Kyoto is complete without a trip to Arashiyama, it was honestly spectacular.
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