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Arashiyama

Arashiyama is a beautiful and historic district on the northwestern outskirts of Kyoto. Arashiyama itself is a great tourist attraction and I’d recommend you come spend the day here exploring all it has to offer. Arashiyama is a ‘Nationally Designated Historic Site’ by the Japanese government's agency for cultural affairs. It’s also a 'Place of Scenic Beauty' as the surrounding mountains and little back streets are very pretty and traditional.

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Arashiyama has several main tourist attractions. I’m sure you’ve heard about, or seen images of the famous Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, which is a forest of Bamboo. It’s pretty, but I will guide you to the less touristy places in Arashiyama.

 

Arashiyama Bamboo forest/grove

Arashiyama Bamboo forest/grove is a natural bamboo forest that has been preserved well and is considered an integral part of the beauty of Arashiyama. Take a stroll around here and take some cool photos!

♦Click here for google maps♦

Arashiyama Bamboo forest

Arashiyama Bamboo forest

Getting up to not good in the bamboo grove. You can hire a Kimono/Yukata like the girls are wearing, or indeed I am wearing, from places all over Kyoto.

Getting up to not good in the bamboo grove. You can hire a Kimono/Yukata like the girls are wearing, or indeed I am wearing, from places all over Kyoto.

Arashiyama Monkey Park

Another famous attraction in Arashiyama is the Iwatayama monkey park. It’s essentially an area in the mountains where the wild Japanese monkeys hang out, and you can feed them and take pictures of them as well as see amazing views over Kyoto.

♦Click here for google maps♦

A monkey at Arashiyama Monkey park, with a cheeky view of Kyoto in the background

A monkey at Arashiyama Monkey park, with a cheeky view of Kyoto in the background

Monkey snacks !

Monkey snacks !

The views over Kyoto are pretty good here too

The views over Kyoto are pretty good here too

The views over Kyoto are pretty good at Arashiyama monkey park. Can you spot the Monkey?

The views over Kyoto are pretty good at Arashiyama monkey park. Can you spot the Monkey?

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Arashiyama high street/main street

Starting from Arashiyama station and heading up north is the high street, where you can find many restaurants, street food vendors and souvenir shops. The high street will be the main thing you’ll see as you get out of the station, and it’s fun to walk around here and buy snacks and souvenirs.

If you head 200m south of Arashiyama station on the main street, you’ll reach the famous Togetsu-kyo bridge which, in the spring and autumn, allows excellent views of the mountains in cherry blossom (Sakura) or red autumn leaves (koyo). The bridge goes over the river Katsura and onto the Arashiyama Park Nakashima area, which is a small little island on the river where you can hang out and enjoy the views.

♦Click here for google maps♦

Arashiyama main street/high street

Arashiyama main street/high street

A bicycle that I artfully placed for the sakes of a good photo, by the Arashiyama park and Togetsu-kyo bridge. You can see the leaves are starting to turn red. This photo was taken early Autumn

A bicycle that I artfully placed for the sakes of a good photo, by the Arashiyama park and Togetsu-kyo bridge. You can see the leaves are starting to turn red. This photo was taken early Autumn

Arashiyama Station, which is on the main street/high street

Arashiyama Station, which is on the main street/high street

A mini river that runs into the Katsura river by Arashiyama park and Togetsu-kyo bridge

A mini river that runs into the Katsura river by Arashiyama park and Togetsu-kyo bridge

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Katsura River

One of my favourite things to do in Arashiyama is to head north up the Katsura river, on foot or by bicycle, and admire the amazing mountainous scenery and tranquillity. You can even hire little Japanese style long boats and cruise around the river. The Katsura river runs right through Arashiyama so it's not hard to find. During the summer they have dinner boats floating around which you can also hire. 

Riverboats on the Katsura river by the Togetsu-kyo bridge and Arashiyama park end

Riverboats on the Katsura river by the Togetsu-kyo bridge and Arashiyama park end

a 15 minute walk up Katsura river and the scenery turns beautiful. I took this photo in early Autumn, just a few days before the leaves start changing colour

a 15 minute walk up Katsura river and the scenery turns beautiful. I took this photo in early Autumn, just a few days before the leaves start changing colour

One of the river boats punts its way up the River. You can see some of the leaves starting to change...

One of the river boats punts its way up the River. You can see some of the leaves starting to change...

Amazing autumn views. And me in my kimono!

Amazing autumn views. And me in my kimono!

Autumnal stoll along the River Katsura

Autumnal stoll along the River Katsura

Senko-ji in Arashiyama

A 20/30 mins walk up along the Katsura River and you'll reach steps to the stunning Daihikaku Senko-ji, or commonly known just as Senko-ji, is a zen temple up in the hills of Arashiyama. Considered by many as the best view in Kyoto, it is definitely worth the walk and short hike up the stairs. The temple has a fantastic observation deck that looks over Kyoto and the mountains. It is especially beautiful in Autumn, and indeed Spring.  

►Admission fee: 400 yen

►Opening hours: General Admission: 10:00 - 16:00, (09:00 – 17:00 in spring and fall)

♦Click here for google maps♦

The main bell at Senko-ji. It has amazing views over the mountains

The main bell at Senko-ji. It has amazing views over the mountains

Stunning vies over the mountains as the leaves start to turn red. Notice Kyoto in the distance.

Stunning vies over the mountains as the leaves start to turn red. Notice Kyoto in the distance.

The observation deck looking over the mountains

The observation deck looking over the mountains

The observation deck, different view

The observation deck, different view

on the observation deck they offer calligraphy and painting workshops.

on the observation deck they offer calligraphy and painting workshops.

Saga Toriimoto

Saga Toriimoto (preserved street) is a great place to explore as the streets themselves are preserved and protected. The result is that all the buildings and temples here are beautiful and old. Even some of the roofs on the buildings are traditional thatching. Spend the afternoon wandering Saga Toriimoto and Atago-Kaido Street. It’s about a 30/40-minute uphill walk north-west from Arashiyama station. 

Also worth a visit is Adashino Mayamura, which is a little museum of dolls made from the natural silk cocoon. The cocoons are made from insects and the dolls are handmade. Fascinating! 

♦Click here for Adashino Mayamura on google maps♦

♦Click here for  Saga Toriimoto on google maps♦

The start of Saga Toriimoto, on the north west side of Arashiyama

The start of Saga Toriimoto, on the north west side of Arashiyama

The back streets from Saga Toriimoto give you a real local feel despite being in Kyoto.

The back streets from Saga Toriimoto give you a real local feel despite being in Kyoto.

Thatched roofing of a house on Saga Toriimoto

Thatched roofing of a house on Saga Toriimoto

A local guard guards the gates. He was too friendly and was forgetting his duties

A local guard guards the gates. He was too friendly and was forgetting his duties

Adashino Mayumura

Adashino Mayumura

Adashino Nenbutsuji

A very interesting little temple in Arashiyama. As you walk up the Saga Toriimoto (Preserved street), on your left, quite high up, you'll see the entrance of Adashino Nenbutsuji, a very beautiful and mysterious temple.

The temple has around 8000 Buddhist statuettes, which commemorate the bodies and souls of the dead. Since the Heian period, people abandoned the bodies of the dead here, exposing them to the elements. The statues were then used after this period, to commemorate the dead. It is a very beautiful and somewhat spooky place. Knowing that thousands and thousands of bodies have been left in the area without proper burial sounds like the start of a horror film.  

≈ Adashino Nenbutsuji is a 30/40 min walk from the Arashiyama main area and stations. So do consider this is you want to visit, it is a bit of a schlep.

►Admission: 500 yen

►Opening hours: 9:00 a.m - 4:30 p.m - March to November

    9:00 a.m - 3:30 p.m - December to February

    9:00 a.m - 5:00 p.m - Saturdays and bank holidays in April, May, October and November

♦Click here for google maps♦

Adashino nenbutsuji boasting pretty autumn colours

Adashino nenbutsuji boasting pretty autumn colours

Thousands of little statues at Adashino Nenbutsuji. All commemorating the countless lost souls

Thousands of little statues at Adashino Nenbutsuji. All commemorating the countless lost souls

Statuettes ranging from all sizes. Notice the cute little ones

Statuettes ranging from all sizes. Notice the cute little ones

Kansai Local are doing private tours and adventures to places that tourists don't know about. If this sounds awesome, get in touch with us and we will get back to you! 

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