Delight in the magnificent Bamboo Forest – Arashiyama, Kyoto
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Kyoto attracts people from all over the world because it was the ancient capital, so there are many historical features such as temples and shrines that remain, but there are also some beautiful nature spots there.
The bamboo forest of Arashiyama, represents Kyoto’s beautiful are serene nature – you can’t help to be touched by it.
The bamboo is so dignified and looked after very well providing a magical world on entering.
This article gives you plenty of information about the forest, and some activities you can do in Arashiyama, including access and hotels that we recommend.
- 1 Two reasons why the bamboo forest attracts people
- 2 Three must-visit places where you can see the bamboo forest of Arashiyama
- 3 3 activities for you in Arashiyama
- 4 Access to Arashiyama
- 5 Five suggestions of where to stay around Arashiyama
Two reasons why the bamboo forest attracts people
The bamboo forest represents Japan’s beauty throughout the year, and many Haiku – a form of very short poetry in three phrases – uses bamboo or the bamboo forest to express kigo (a phrase referring to a particular season).
So, let’s start finding the two reasons why the bamboo forest attracts both Japanese and Foreign people!
The first reason – you can see, feel and smell the nature of Kyoto
Once you enter the bamboo forest, you are surrounded enveloped. Tall, almost architectural bamboo stands majestically before you – the volume of bamboo is quite amazing. Even the sound of the breeze amongst the leaves will leave you dreaming and wondering why you haven’t been there before.
After your normal sightseeing, to take a break from your busy schedule in the bamboo forest will reset your sensitivity to nature and refresh you ready for more.
Arashiyama is located in the western part of Kyoto and not far from the entrance of the Tenryu-ji temple, so it has a good access from Kyoto city – taking about 30 mins.
There is a famous phrase “Hyakubun ha Ikken ni Shikazu”, literally meaning, “Once is better than listening 100 times”. it really is true when considering the bamboo forest of Arashiyama.
The second reason – stunning, magical scenery
Imagine that you are standing in the bamboo forest, and you can’t see anything else apart from the huge about of bamboo reaching up to the sky on both sides of you – at least 10 meters.
It is quiet – a void. The bamboo is so dignified and straight – imagine living a life so straight and without an evil thought.
We suggest that you go to bamboo forest in the morning, as there are less tourists, and the pleasure of seeing the rising sunbeams through the bamboo and feeling the refreshing breeze must not be missed.
Due to its stunning beauty, the bamboo forest has been used by various media – the cover pages of books and magazine, and it has also been named as one of the “100 soundscapes of Japan”.
Three must-visit places where you can see the bamboo forest of Arashiyama
Arashiyama is very famous for its bamboo forest, and we strongly recommend three places, that you must visit.
Tenryu-ji temple was established in 1339 by the shogun Ashikaga Takauji (1305-1358) in the memory of Emperor Go-Daigo, and it is the head temple of the Tenryu-ji branch of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism.
The temple is located in a scenic area at the foot of Arashiyama mountain on the western side of Kyoto, with a magnificent Zen garden. It is an intoxicating combination of temple and nature, a beautiful picture postcard – it’s also a world heritage site.
The bamboo forest at the temple is at the northern gate, and it has a long and winding path lined with thousands of towering bamboo stems.
Opening time: 8:30-17:30
Admission fee: 500 yen (about US$5)
Okochi Sanso is the Japanese garden built by Denjiro Okochi who a Japanese actor was. His desire was to have a beautiful Japanese garden that would thrill and entrance visitors forever. It took him 30 years to complete his project – it was his second home.
This traditional Japanese garden has a bamboo forest where you can walk on the path and feel the spirit of Denjiro and get an idea of his thoughts.
Opening time: 9:00-18:00
Admission fee: 1,000 yen (about US$10)
3.Sagano Chikurin (bamboo forest)
Sagano Chikurin – a bamboo forest that has been loved for more than 1,000 years by the Japanese people, and now it is the most popular destination in Kyoto. There are thousands of bamboos growing there, and you can walk on 100 meter long path, leaving you the feeling that you are in a totally different world.
You can enjoy the daytime with natural light, and also enjoy it at night when it is lit-up during December – it is called “Hana touro”.
Access is very convenient, just 5 mins walk from Arashiyama station on Randen Arashiyama main line.
Opening time: 24 hours
Admission fee: Free
680 years old temple with Zen garden
Bamboo forest, one of “the 100 soundscapes of Japan”
Did you know there are some places in Arashiyama where you can do other activities?
3 activities for you in Arashiyama
For people like you who want to know more about Arashiyama, especially the variety of activities available, here are some details for you.
1.Arashiyama Monkey park IWATAYAMA
Arashiyama Monkey park IWATAYAMA has about 130 wild monkeys and is very popular among foreign visitors.
Have you ever watched monkeys enjoying a hot spring? The monkeys are called “Snow monkeys” and the monkeys at Arashiyama Monkey park IWATAYAMA are the same type (they have no hot spring, though!). So, the monkeys are wild, but they are fed by the staff.
You can enjoy hiking by following the trail from the entrance to the top. You can also enjoy the cherry trees in Spring and the vibrant leaf colors in Autumn.
The park is for everyone to enjoy, but please be aware that the monkeys are wild, so no feeding and be sure to leave some space for them to move around.
Opening time: Spring and Summer 9:00-16:30/17:00 (top of the mountain), Autumn and Winter 9:00-16:00/16:30 (top of the mountain),
Admission fee: 16 years old or over 550 yen, 4 to 15 years old 250 yen, 0-3 years old Free
2.Yakatabune Arashiyama Tsusen
Why don’t you experience another exclusive activity of Yakatabune Arashiyama Tsusen? It’s a boat trip running down the Oigawa river which is surrounded by mountains.
This boat trip dates back to 898 when the Daigo emperor could enjoy the boat and activities.
There are now some different activities, but the main one is Yuransen – just sitting back and enjoying the scenery – with the boatman controlling the boat using a single oar.
Another tour is held only the 1st July to the 23rd September, when you can watch “Ukai” – a traditional fishing method in which fishermen use trained cormorants to fish in rivers – and at dusk, enjoy a beautiful bonfire and the mountains terrain.
Opening time: 9:00-15:30
Duration: 30 mins
Admission fee: Adult 1,100 yen, Child 4-12 years old 550 yen
3.Sagano Romantic Train
Sagano Romantic Train is a very unique and old route, offering a special sightseeing opportunity – the train runs from Arashiyama to Kameoka station.
The train designed in red and yellow, and runs along the Hozugawa river, where you will see cherry blossoms in Spring, lots of greenery in the Summer and beautiful leaf colors in the Autumn – maybe some snow in the Winter – so it is a special and fun place.
The line was originally built in 1897.
There are five carriages, and only the 5th is designed as an open carriage.
Please be aware that you can buy tickets in advance at JR West stations and major travel companies, but the tickets for the 5th carriage are only available on the day when you travel, and only at the Sagano Romantic Train ticket offices.
Opening time: 9:00-17:00, closed Wednesday and from 30th December to 28th February.
Duration: 30 mins and 1 hour for return
Admission fee: Adult 620 yen, Child 310 yen
Let us now explain more about Arashiyama, especially some useful information about the access.
Access to Arashiyama
There are some different ways to get to Arashiyama depending on where you are.
1.By Japan Railways JR Sagano line
You take JR Sagano line, also known as JR Sanin line, from JR Kyoto station to Saga-Arashiyama station.
It is the fastest way and takes about 15 minutes, 240 yen.
Then 5-10 minutes from Saga-Arashiyama station to central Arashiyama.
Have you heard of the JR Pass (Japan Rail Pass) which is the multi-use discount service from JR that you can save so much travel costs by any JR line all over Japan?
– JR Pass (Japan Rail Pass)
This is a great value ticket from JR. If you are foreign person visiting Japan, you can purchase it and get so much discount. If you take one trip by Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train) you will have already paid.
JR Pass covers all Japan, and you can use it to travel in Kyoto, and of course when travelling to Arashiyama, it is really worth getting.
There are 3 types of duration to choose from:
Standard 7 days/ Adult 29,110 yen, Child 14,550 yen
Standard 14 days/ Adult 46,390 yen, Child 23,190 yen
Standard 21 days / Adult 59,3500 yen, Child 29,670 yen
also 3 more types of Green Pass.
How to buy JR Pass?
You can purchase JR Pass online as follows:
2.By Keifuku tram line (Randen)
Keifuku Randen tram line is operated by a private company, Keifuku Electric Railroads, and one of two Keifuku lines that runs west from Shijo-Omiya station to Keifuku Arashiyama station – about 20 minutes, 210 yen.
The bright purple train makes people feel quite nostalgic.
The Keifuku Randen line doesn’t connect to Kyoto station, so please take the City Bus 26, 28 or 206 for about 16-23 minutes, 230 yen.
3.By Hankyu line
You can take Kawaramachi or Karasuma station on Shijo street in central Kyoto, or the Hankyu main line to Katsura station, then change to Hankyu Arashiyama line for Arashiyama, 20 minutes, 220 yen.
Hankyu Arashiyama station is located opposite the river, and a walk of 5-10 minutes from central Arashiyama.
You can take the Kyoto City Bus No 28 and get off at Arashiyama Tenryuji-mae bus stop after about 30 minutes.
The last thing we would suggest is accommodation in Arashiyama and center of Kyoto city!
Five suggestions of where to stay around Arashiyama
Arashiyama is one of the best tourist hotspots, so there are many places you can choose from, but we suggest five particular places to stay.
Please be aware that the exchange rate is changing on a daily basis.
-Hoshinoya Arashiyama – a 400-year traditional and elegant building
There is no better accommodation in Arashiyama than the one that means getting on a boat surrounded by mountains, travel on the Oigawa river until you reach Hoshinoya Arashiyama. Your excitement building as to what sort of accommodation you are going to be staying in Arashiyama. Well, you can expect a dream room with a beautiful view of the river, stunning Kyoto cuisine by an executive chef, spa and various activities such as the tea ceremony.
It is definitely one of the best places to stay in Arashiyama, where you can feel Kyoto at its best.
Price: from 42,750 yen, US$389
Suiran in Arashiyama is a luxury collection of hotels not far from Tenryu-ji temple which has over 1000 years of history as a retreat for aristocrats and royal families. It’s surrounded by nature throughout the year, such as the bamboo forest, mountains and rivers.
People’s reviews are always very complimentary, and they always recommend the Japanese style hotel, with excellent experiences and a great hospitality.
Price: from 118,000 yen, US$1,080
Around Kyoto center
-Hotel Granvia Kyoto
Hotel Granvia Kyoto is just next to the JR Kyoto station, so it is really convenient, but also an elegant haven with modern comfort styling.
You can get Arashiyama easily with easy access to many places from the hotel.
There is a swimming pool and exercise room to make your stay active.
If you want to stay somewhere convenient and comfortable, Hotel Granvia Kyoto is a very good option for you.
Price: from 28,290 yen, US$ 259
-Hotel Kintetsu Kyoto station
Hotel Kintetsu Kyoto station is directly connected to JR Kyoto station with a 30 second walk from Shinkansen gate, and the Kintetsu gate offers functionality and convenience.
If you would like to stay somewhere convenient but reasonable, compared to the Hotel Granvia Kyoto, Hotel Kintetsu Kyoto station is the best option for you while staying in Kyoto.
Price: from 22,747 yen, US$ 152
-Karasuma Kyoto Hotel
Karasuma Kyoto Hotel is a one minute walk from both subway Shijo station and from Karasuma station on hankyu line.
There are many spots within walking distance, such as Nishiki market, Pontocho and Gion, and there are also many nice restaurants in the vicinity.
Price: from 16,633 yen US$
The bamboo forest of Arashiyama is the must-place-to-visit in Kyoto, where you feel both excitement and calmness, and you’ll find Kyoto’s real beauty along with its varied history.
Please enjoy Arashiyama – simple nature and Japanese elegance.
- I am Nagai Yuichi ,CEO of S-fleage a company in Kyoto. We are spreading the charms of Kyoto to the world. I hope this article is helpful for your experience in Kyoto!