One of the most popular and photographed sites around Kyoto is the bamboo grove found in Arashiyama. Known for it’s beautiful extensive bamboo gardens, with stalks stretching up to the sky and gently swaying in the wind, it’s a peaceful place amongst the crazy city hustle and bustle of Kyoto.
Standing in the middle of the bamboo forest is like being in another world. It felt like no photos I took of the forest could capture the beauty of the forest that can be seen with your own eyes. In person it’s even more impressive, with wide walkways, bamboo as far as the eye can see, and beautiful girls dressed in geisha dresses walking around the forest.
For such a popular spot we were really happy to find that the bamboo grove actually wasn’t as busy or crowded as we thought it would be. There were lots of people round, especially at the entrance to the grove, but the further you walk into the forest the fewer people there are.
We were even able to grab a photo with no other people in it once we got to the end. Definitely make sure you don’t just take your photos at the beginning of the grove and then leave – some of the most beautiful and peaceful places in the grove are further in, so take the time to walk the whole way along the pathway.
Exploring the Bamboo Forest
From the main street of Arashiyama you can head straight to the bamboo grove. It is located to the north of the entrance to the Tenryu-ji Temple. There is just one main pathway that takes you through the grove, leading slowly up hill at the end. You can either stroll along the pathway on foot or rent a bicycle to enjoy the grove and then the bigger gardens around it.
Another way to see the grounds of the bamboo grove is to hire a rickshaw driver for an hour or so and watch the bamboo pass you from the comfy seat of a rickshaw. There are heaps of young Japanese men around Arashiyama offering rickshaw rides and they’re ready to give you a great tour of the area.
Getting to the bamboo grove
The easiest way to get to the bamboo grove is by train, and there are a couple of different options depending on where you’re coming from.
You can either take the JR train to Saga-Arashiyama station and then it’s about a 10 minute walk to the grove, or you can catch the Hankyu Railway to Arashiyama Hankyu Station and then it’s about a 15 minute walk.
Give yourself a whole day to explore Arashiyama, because there is so much more to see there than just the bamboo grove. When we were planning our visit we originally thought we’d just be checking out the grove and then maybe a little bit of the town, but once we got there we actually spent the whole day exploring.
Arashiyama is actually such a beautiful town, with rolling mountains, sweeping views and cobblestone streets that really just add to the vibe of the village. At the top of the mountain you can find the crazy Iwatayama Monkey Park, where you can get up close and personal with some of the local monkeys in their open air park.
It’s definitely a spot that’s not to be missed on any itinerary to Japan and might just have been one of our favourite spots from our whole trip.