As if Kyoto’s city center didn’t charm us enough, it turns out that there’s even more beauty to be found in the city outskirts. Tucked along the base of Arashiyama Mountains (“Storm Mountains”) in the far west of Kyoto is the lush natural scenery of Arashiyama.
Arashiyama is popularly known for its vast Bamboo Grove, the large streaming Oi River, and its pockets of zen shrines and temples. If you’re planning to travel to Kyoto, this is definitely one of the main attractions you shouldn’t miss out on!
This was actually the first time that I was ever able to experience being in a bamboo forest, compared to the tropical forests I commonly get to experience in my home country. A combination of that, along with lovely tea houses in between, and all the other natural scenery–all of these made for such a completely refreshing experience of some of Japan’s many natural beauties.
Although there are various options of accessing Arashiyama, such as by bus, or by car, we ended up taking the train. Transportation time wasn’t really an issue. It took us about 20 min. to arrive at Arashiyama from Kyoto Main Station.
Maps placed at the plaza right by the exit of the train station.
We had lunch at the plaza near the entrance of Arashiyama. There was a konbini nearby, so we just ended up buying some simple bento meals, onigiri, juice, etc. from there, and had a simple picnic-like kind of lunch. There were actually no seating areas, so we kind of just sat by the stairs (which, I’m not sure if it’s actually allowed. hahaha!).
We spotted several locals walking around in their kimono/yukata. I’ve always been curious about how it would actually feel like to wear those on a hot summer day. I heard that it’s supposed to feel more refreshing, since it’s made out of cotton or some other kind of light fabric. My sisters and I kept our eyes peeled for any kimono store that we might spot along the way so that we could buy our own. haha!
Passing by a few streams before seeing the Oi (Katsura) River.
The first major thing you’ll see after passing the entrance is this gorgeous river with a wooden bridge sitting atop. The bridge, called Togetsukyo Bridge, actually leads towards Arashiyama’s Bamboo Grove. For added trivia, the name of the bridge also means “moon crossing,” and was named so by Emporor Kameyama because of its resemblance to that kind of phenomenon. In addition, this bridge was also often used for historical films.
The whole sight of it felt so refreshing for a hot summer day. The surrounding greenery and the far-reaching river just added up to the entire cleansing experience of breathing in the fresh air.
There were benches placed along the sides of the river. We took our time to just sit back, relax, and just take in the view. A couple of pigeons would also flock around the area–probably because a lot of tourists come here and end up feeding them? It amused us, anyway (well, we don’t normally see pigeons in the Philippines! haha!).
After crossing the bridge, we spotted several stores and restaurants across the street. The ice cream shop, in particular, caught our attention since it was a really hot day, so we ended up stopping by to cool ourselves down a bit.
Bought Sakura flavored ice cream~
After having some ice cream, we headed to the entrance of the Bamboo Grove. You can opt to rent out bicycles to bike along the trail of the grove, but since we were a big group, we decided to just walk along the trail.
Stepping into the trail of the Bamboo Grove felt like I was being transported into a dream-like world. It reminded me of one of those Ghibli films where there was a very spiritual feeling to being in such a serene place full of nature. (Maybe a similar feeling to what Chihiro had when she got transported into the land of the spirits in Spirited Away? ♥)
The bamboo trail stretches out to about 200 meters. How vast the actual grove is.. I have no idea, but it feels endless once you’re there.
Some people, locals and tourists alike, would ride on rickshaws to tour the whole area. We opted to walk instead. It’s honestly not that tiring to stroll around the bamboo grove, since the path is very flat and linear. I don’t think we even had to go up or down any stairs at all. So, if you’re worried about accessibility and stamina, Arashiyama’s Bamboo Grove shouldn’t be a problem.
We spotted this street vendor who sold postcards with Kyoto-related designs. It was all manually made, so it felt like a very special and endearing kind of souvenir to buy. My sister went ahead to buy a couple to send over to her friends back home in the Philippines. (It’s this thing they do when they travel–to just send home postcards from wherever they go. haha I think it’s a pretty fun idea. People rarely send out postcards these days.)
There was this miniature diorama right beside the spot of the street vendor. It was very difficult to notice. I found it adorable, and decided to take a photo! haha! (Though, I wonder if the street vendor made this himself? hahaha!)
Several shrines are also located in between areas of the bamboo forest. We didn’t bother to stop by them, due to time constraints. We were going to be visiting the Fushimi Inari shrine on the same day anyway, so we prioritized our time for that instead.
The bamboo forest just goes on and on~
There are other cleansing areas you can use around the area, since there are several shrines sprawled out at different areas of Arashiyama.
We passed by this shrine, but didn’t take the time to look around, since we were planning to head straight to Fushimi Inari afterwards.
It had a gorgeous pond right next to it, though. So, we ended up taking a couple of more photos before leaving.
The place was also pretty crowded, so we thought it would be wiser to just check out a different shrine/temple.
There were some koi fish in the pond~
Got fascinated with this tree with this support system. My dad just randomly told me to take a photo of it, so I did! hahaha!
Heading towards the exit~
And, that was pretty much it for our Arashiyama tour! I decided to divide my posts into parts of ‘by location,’ since I took several photos for all the places we visited. I’ll be writing about Fushimi Inari next, so stay tuned for that!
In case you missed it, here are my other posts about our trip to Kyoto:
- Kyoto (Aug. 2016): Kiyomizudera Temple & Gion – LINK