Upon hearing the word “Kyoto (京都),” many people think of temples and shrines as the best sightseeing spots, but that’s not entirely true. There are many other places in this historic area, particularly in Arashiyama (嵐山), that you need to see and visit. Here are three of them!
The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is a 500-meter stretch of bamboos, with its path leading to the top of a hill and the entrance to Okochi Sanso (大河内山荘).
It’s accessible from the main road, which is a few steps north from the entrance of Tenryu-ji (天龍寺), a UNESCO World Heritage site. The entrance isn’t that noticeable, so you have to find a particular food stall that sells udon, soba, and other sorts of food.
Walking is the ideal way to roam around, but you can also pay for a rickshaw ride for a more guided tour. Some rickshaw drivers can speak English and they offer information that you can’t find in guidebooks.
Arashiyama Station is the last stop (A13) on the Keifuku Line (京福線), which is more commonly known as the Randen (嵐電) Arashiyama Main Line. It went under renovation and in July 2013, it was reopened to the public to introduce the Kimono Forest, a project developed by Japanese artist Yasumichi Morita (森田恭通) of GLAMOROUS co., ltd.
The Kimono Forest features 600 poles (all 6.5 feet in height) wrapped with kimono fabric. Each fabric was designed by Kamedatomi (亀田富), a textile factory with a history dating back to the Taisho (大正) period. The beautiful designs were made using the traditional dyeing method of Kyoto Yuzen (京都友禅) or Kyo-Yuzen, which was developed by artist Miyazaki Yuzensai (宮崎友禅斎) in Kyoto during the mid to late 17th century of the Edo (江戸) era.
The Kimono Forest is a must-see both day and night. As the sun goes down, this forest illuminates with LED lights.
The station decided to remove its ticket gates, so anyone can enter for free and enjoy these cylinder-shaped pillars. If you want to ride the train, you don’t have to buy a ticket. All you need to do is board the train, get off at the station you’re headed, and pay the flat fare of 210 yen at the end of your ride.
Togetsukyo Bridge is a popular tourist spot, especially during spring and autumn when the Arashiyama Mountains and its surrounding areas change in color. Also known as the “Moon Crossing Bridge,” this 155-meter wooden bridge is a scenic way to cross the Katsura River (桂川).
Why only cross the river if you can ride a boat and see Arashiyama from a different point of view? There are many boat rides you can try, so choose which works for you.
For example, if you’re on a group tour, you can book a lunch cruise via Voyagin or through your travel agent. You can rent a yakatabune (屋形船; an old-fashioned Japanese wooden houseboat) for one hour, with or without a reserved meal. It’s up to you if you want to bring food and drinks or order from your host (the boat provider).
You can go directly to the riverbank, too. There’s a small pier on the left side after crossing Togetsukyo Bridge where boatmen wait for tourists.
If you’re visiting Kyoto, Arashiyama should be on your must-visit list. The great news? The places mentioned in this article are just within walking distance from each other so you will have no trouble visiting all these beautiful spots in just one day!