Arashiyama in Kyoto

Arashiyama (嵐山) is a nature-filled district in the western part of Kyoto (京都). You have probably already seen pictures of a beautiful bamboo forest or a funny monkey park.
This is very it’s all at.

The name Arashiyama actually refers to the forest and mountain area with smaller shops and restaurants all around. However, it’s mostly used for the entire district, including loads of temples.

Within its main center of attention, the place can get pretty touristy.
A little farther north you’ll enter the area called Sagano (嵯峨野), where it’s a little quieter.

As Arashiyama is filled with beautiful natural scenery, it gets especially popular during the Cherry Blossom season in April and fall color season around November.

The essence of Arashiyama

The most iconic symbol of Arashiyama is the Togetsukyo Bridge which was built back in the Heian Period (794-1185). It goes over the Katsura River, where boats can be rented.

Around the location of this bridge, you can enjoy one of the best views of either Cherry Blossoms or fall colors.

These two events are not the only specialties that find nice housing here.
During summer, fishers practice cormorant fishing on the Hozu River, west of Togetsukyo Bridge.
In December, the streets of Arashiyama as well as the Bamboo forest are illuminated with lanterns with an event called Hanatoro.

The area is pretty spacious and has a lot of nice walking and cycling paths. I recommend renting a bicycle at a nearby train station or bike shop and to explore the area that way.

Things to do in Arashiyama

Let me now give you a list of 10 awesome things you can do/visit here:

Bamboo Forest

This is probably the most popular sight of Arashiyama. A vast bamboo forest with very nicely laid-out walking/cycling paths. Definitely quite a rare scenery, highly recommended!

Togetsukyou Bridge

Lit. “Moon Crossing Bridge”, this is easily the landmark of Arashiyama. In early April and around November, you can enjoy some beautiful views on the nearby forests.

But even outside of these two seasons it is a very atmospheric spot.

Monkey Park Iwatayama

Just South of Togestukyo Bridge you can find the entrance to Arashiyama’s monkey park. Dozens of monkey freely roam the area. You can also enjoy a nice view on Kyoto from here.

  • Hours: 9am – 5pm (4:30pm from mid-November to mid-March)
  • Closed on days with heavy rain or snow
  • Admission Fee: 550 Yen (4,23€/$5; exchange rates as of August 2018)

Tenryuji Temple

Easily the most famous and largest temple of Arashiyama. It’s one of the five great Zen temples of Kyoto. It goes back all the way to Muromachi Period (1338-1573) and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site today. There are beautiful gardens around the temple as well.

  • Hours: 8:30 am – 5:30pm (5 pm from late October to late March)
  • No closing days
  • Admission Fee: 500 Yen (3,85€/$4.55) for the Gardens + another 300 Yen (2,31€/$2.72) for the Temple Buildings

Jojakkoji Temple

This temple is located on a mountainside. It is a little off the main sites but still worth a visit. Founded back in 1596, it comes along a nice natural scenery.

  • Hours: 9am – 5pm
  • No closing days
  • Admission Fee: 500 Yen (3,85€/$4.55)

Daikakuji Temple

As a former residence of an emperor, it was converted to a temple meant for the Shingon Sect of Japanese Buddhism in 876. Similar to Kinkakuji (金閣寺), Daikakuji has a large pond nearby.

  • Hours: 9am – 5pm
  • No closing days
  • Admission Fee: 500 Yen (3,85€/$4.55) (600 Yen (4,62€/$5.45) as a combination ticket with Gioji Temple)

Gioji Temple

Literally in the middle of the green, Gioji temple can be found. You can visit a nice moss garden and the maple trees around it.

  • Hours: 9am – 5pm
  • No closing days
  • Admission Fee: 300 Yen (2,31€/$2.72) (600 Yen as a combination ticket with Daikakuji Temple)

Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple

One of the oldest temples of this list, founded in the 9th century by the monk Kobo Daishi. It has over a hundred stone statues on its premises, dedicated for the souls of the dead.

  • Hours: 9am – 4:30pm (3:30pm from December to February)
  • No closing days
  • Admission Fee: 500 Yen (3,85€/$4.55)

Hozu River Boat Tour

25 people at once can enter a boat and get carried along the Hozu River all the way to Togetsukyo Bridge. The ride lasts around 2 hours. It is especially amazing during either Cherry Blossom or fall color season, as the nearby woods can been seen very clearly.

  • Hours: 9am – 3:30pm (March 10 through November)

   9am – 2:30pm (December 1 to 10)

   10am – 2:30pm (December 1 to March 9)

  • Closed from 29th of December to the 4th of January and on heavy rain or high water level
  • Admission Fee: 4100 Yen (32€/$37)

Saga Scenic Railway

A 25-minute ride going with 25 km/h (around 15 miles per hour), along the Hozu River and all kinds of beautiful nature. This train takes you from Arashiyama to Kameoka, roughly seven kilometers away.

Kameoka is also the starting point of the boat tour mentioned before.

  • Hours: 9am – 4pm (5pm on busy days)
  • Closed on Wednesdays if they’re not a national holiday or during spring and summer vacation / December 30 through February
  • Admission Fee: 620 Yen (4,77€/$5.64) one way

How to get to Arashiyama

Arashiyama lies quite bit outside the city center in the Western outskirts of Kyoto. Traffic around this area and before it can get pretty busy so I recommend coming here by train.

There are quite a few train station around the area.

The fastest way from Kyoto Station (京都駅) is through the JR Sagano Line which will take you to Saga-Arashiyama Station in about 15 minutes for 240 Yen (1,85€/$2.18).

Takeaway

If you’re a fan of nature, animals or temples/traditional sites, you definitely cannot miss this spot! There is so much stuff to do here.

There are even more temples besides the ones I mentioned above!

I would recommend coming here in either early April or November because of the aforementioned beautiful scenery. But even outside of these times this place is amazing, no worries!

It is not only one of the most epic and atmospheric places in Kyoto but also the whole of Japan (日本)!

I would say Arashiyama is easily among my top 5 things to visit in Kyoto. Go have a look and see for yourself!

That’s it for this article. Thank you very much for reading!

As always, sharing this article or commenting down below would mean the world to me.

Stay tuned for my next article about Haneda Airport (羽田) in Tokyo (東京)!

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Adventurous-Japan Author

Hi! I'm Daniel and I live in Germany. Passionate lover of everything Japanese. Thank you for reading!

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