A Day in Kyoto’s Arashiyama District!
One of our favorite parts of Kyoto is Arashiyama, a district located on the western outskirts of the city. From the center of Kyoto it takes about thirty minutes to reach Arashiyama, but it is well worth the trip! While you could easily spend a few days in Arashiyama, today’s post is going to give you a one-day itinerary in this beautiful part of Japan!
How to get to Arashiyama
There are a few ways to get to Arashiyama from Kyoto. The fastest way is to depart from Kyoto Station to Arashiyama via the JR Sagano Line. A one-way ride to Saga-Arashiyama Station only takes 15 minutes and costs 240 yen. Once you arrive at Saga-Arashiyama Station you can walk to central Arashiyama in about ten-minutes.
Another way to reach Arashiyama is by the tram on the Keifuku Arashiyama Line. To take this line you will need to go to Omiya Station, which is located at the intersection of Shijo Street and Omiya Street in central Kyoto. A one-way ride on the tram is about 20 minutes and costs 210 yen. I personally love taking this line because you arrive at the Randen Arashiyama Station and it is so cute! While it doesn’t look like much from the front, walk towards the back and you’ll see an art display known as the ‘Kimono Forest’. This art exhibit consists of pillars decorated in colorful kimono fabric and you can get amazing travel photos. There is also a foot bath in the back of the station where you can sooth your feet in a hot springs. It’s pretty cool!
If you want to drive to Arashiyama be aware traffic can be very heavy and it can be difficult to find parking. I would suggest going early in the morning if you plan to drive. The drive will take you a minimum of 30 minutes.
Visit Iwatayama Monkey Park
If you love animals, then visiting Iwatayama Monkey Park is a must during your visit to Arashiyama. Iwatayama is home to about 120 snow monkeys, which are also called “Japanese macaque.” Iwatayama is located on the west bank of the Oi River and is a popular tourist destination.
If you are having trouble finding the entrance look for the signs above.
Iwatayama Monkey Park opens at 9am daily and costs 550 yen to visit. After you purchase your tickets you will have to hike up the mountain so wear comfortable shoes. The hike up isn’t that hard, and only took us about 25 minutes. It is quite pretty on the way up, so have your cameras ready.
Along the way, you’ll hear the monkeys in the trees and even signs about what to expect. For instance, some of the rules are, “Don’t touch the monkeys. Don’t feed the monkeys. Don’t look the monkeys in the eye.”
Once at the top of the hill you’ll see an open area and tons of monkeys. I won’t lie, I was a little intimidated by them at first because they were hungry and everywhere!
There is also a hut that sells snacks, drinks, and has a bathroom. My suggestion is to get your bearings from the safety of the hut and then head out to visit the monkeys and take in the spectacular view!
Walk the Togetsukyo Bridge
Visit Tenryu-ji Temple
Tenryu-ji Temple is the largest temple in Arashiyama. It is also my favorite temple in Arashiyama! Tenryu-ji was built in 1339 by Ashikaga Takauji, and dedicated to Emperor Go-Daigo, who had just passed away. When you visit Tenryu-ji you see why it is considered one of Kyoto’s five great Zen temples. From the second we walked in Tenryu-ji a sense of peace came over us. The buildings are lovely, but the gardens of this temple are even more spectacular.
The gardens were created by Muso Soseki, a famous garden designer. They feature a central pond that is surrounded by rocks, the Arashiyama Mountains, and beautiful pine trees. There is even a Koi Pond!
Tenryu-ji is open from 8:30am-5: 30pm daily and costs 500 yen to visit. Make sure to wear socks, as you must take your shoes off before you enter the Temple.
Walk the Bamboo Grove
The Bamboo Grove in Arashiyama is one of Kyoto’s most famous sights and it is for a good reason- this place is unlike anywhere else we’ve been in the world! We had seen many photos of the Bamboo Forest prior to our trip but the grove still took our breath away. It is so peaceful to walk through the grove. The Bamboo Grove is located right off of the main strip in Arashiyama near Tenryu-ji Temple. If you can’t find it ask anyone for directions and they will be able to help.
Tip: The grove is popular and gets to be quite crowded with tourists. Go early in the morning or as the sun starts to set for the best photos.
Have fun in Arashiyama!
Lindsay & Christopher