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Arashiyama, Kyoto - Top Things To Do, Travel Tips, And Transportation

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Arashiyama, Kyoto, is a popular area holding some of the ancient capital's most famous sites, like Tenryuji Temple, a lush bamboo grove, and countless historically and culturally significant structures. Learn what to do and tips for making it a great trip.

Written by Jasmine O

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Arashiyama - Sightseeing, Activities, and Tips

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

Known prominently for its lush bamboo grove, Tenryuji Temple - a World Heritage Site, and old Japanese townscape, Arashiyama is a must-visit destination for many in Kyoto. Easily accessible via train from Kyoto Station, Arashiyama is an area constantly bustling with visitors, and is full of unique things to experience.

Continue reading to learn eight of the best spots in Arashiyama, food to try, and tips on traveling, including when to visit to avoid crowds and how to get there.

Guide to Arashiyama

8 Places to Visit
1. Arashiyama Bamboo Grove: Lose Yourself in a Forest
2. Tenryuji Temple: Be Dazzled by a World Heritage Zen Buddhist Temple
3. Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama: Meet Adorable Animals
4. Togetsukyo Bridge: Capture Stunning Scenery
5. Sagano Scenic Railway: Ride a Charming Japanese Train
6. Okochi Sanso Villa: Visit a Historic Japanese Home
7. Jojakkoji Temple: Catch Your Breath at a Serene Spot
8. Gioji Temple: Appreciate A Tranquil, Lush Moss Garden

Street Food and Restaurants
9. Try Dango, Tofu Ice Cream, and Savory Snacks
10. Arashiyama Yoshimura: Enjoy Soba by the Riverside
11. Shigetsu: Experience Buddhist Temple Cuisine at Tenryuji
12. % Arabica Kyoto Arashiyama: Sip on Stylish Coffee and Lattes

Transportation and Tips
13. Best Times to Visit Arashiyama
14. Getting to Arashiyama from Popular Areas in Kyoto

1. Arashiyama Bamboo Grove: Lose Yourself in a Forest

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is perhaps the most iconic spot in Arashiyama, gaining international popularity through dazzling pictures shared on social media, hinting at its bright greenery and mystery. The bamboo forest is best seen in-person, though, as it will feel like you have entered another world when you walk down the paths. It is open 24-hours.

The grove stretches around 600 meters, running through Torokko Arashiyama Station, Tenryuji Temple, a major Zen temple in the area, through to Okochi Sanso Villa, the former Japanese home of a 19th-century actor. To get there, head north from Togetsukyo Bridge (mentioned below) after leaving the train.

Please note the forest paths can become very crowded during mid-day and during spring and fall. In December, the area is illuminated in the evenings, creating an even more mystical atmosphere.

2. Tenryuji Temple: A World Heritage Zen Buddhist Temple

Tenryuji Temple

Picture courtesy of Tenryuji Temple
Tenryuji Temple is one of Japan's prominent Zen Buddhist temples, established in 1339. It is a registered UNESCO World Heritage Site for its cultural and historical significance. Visitors can explore many of the temple's buildings, including the famous cloud dragon mural in the Hatto (Dharma Hall). There is also a Japanese garden with an expansive pond surrounded by greenery that is gorgeous year-round.

This temple is a popular spot to visit and may become crowded on weekends and during peak travel season. Visitors can also try workshops for meditation and sutra copying, and enjoy shojin ryori (traditional vegetarian Buddhist food) at Shigetsu, the restaurant on the grounds. Please see the official website listed below for more information.

Tenryuji Temple

Picture courtesy of Tenryuji Temple

Tenryuji Temple is around a 13-minute walk from JR Saga Arashiyama Station or a 15-minute walk from Hankyu Arashiyama Station. Admission is 500 yen for the garden, and 300 yen to enter most buildings. It is 500 yen to see the Hatto, which is open generally on weekends and public holidays. Please check the official website for further information.

Hours are from 8:30 to 17:30 throughout the year, except for October 21 to March 20, when the temple is open 8:30 to 17:00. Last admission is 30 minutes before closing time.

Address: Kyoto, Ukyo, Saga Tenryuji, Susukinobaba 68
Google Map
Website: http://www.tenryuji.com/en/

3. Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama: Meet Adorable Animals

Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwayatama

Picture courtesy of Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwayatama
Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama is a popular spot where visitors can see wild Japanese macaque monkeys wandering around on mountains overlooking Kyoto. This is a family-friendly, must-visit for any animal lover--the monkeys are adorable to meet in-person and will melt your heart.

As they are wild animals, however, take precautions for your safety as well as the animals. Visitors should not directly feed the monkeys outside of the designated area, touch, or crouch down to see the monkeys.

The monkey park is located around five minutes from Hankyu Arashiyama Station, or 15 minutes from JR Saga Arashiyama Station by foot. It is about a 20-minute hike uphill to get to the main area, so it is suggested to wear clothing and shoes for appropriate for climbing, and to store any luggage you have in a coin locker beforehand.

Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwayatama

Picture courtesy of Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwayatama

The park is open from 9:00 to 16:00 from March 15 through September 30, and 9:00 to 16:00 from October 1 to March 14. Admission fee is 550 yen for guests 16 years and up, and 250 yen for children 4 to 15 years old (free for 3 years and younger).

Address: Kyoto, Nishikyo, Arashiyama, Nakaoshita 61
Google Map
Website: http://www.monkeypark.jp/Englishpage.html

4. Togetsukyo Bridge: Capture Stunning Scenery

Togetsukyo Bridge

The picturesque Togetsukyo Bridge is a world-famous bridge representative of Kyoto. Spanning across the Oigawa River, the bridge greets visitors walking up from Hankyu Arashiyama Station towards the main destinations and shops.

It is a very popular spot for photography any time of the year, but the cherry blossom season and fall foliage are particularly popular, bringing in many visitors. If you want to avoid crowds in general, however, it is advisable to go to early in the morning. During Obon season in mid-August, glowing lanterns are floated down the river in the evening.

Address: Kyoto, Ukyo, Saga Nakanoshima
Google Map

5. Sagano Scenic Railway: Ride a Charming Japanese Train

Sagano Scenic Railway

Ride the Sagano Scenic Railway, or Sagano Romantic train, for a picturesque ride through nature. The rail is around 7-kilometers one-way, running between Torokko Arashiyama and Torokko Kameoka stations along the same river Togetsukyo Bridge spans.

The antique-style trains operate at a slow speed that allows riders to enjoy the surrounding scenery during the 25-minute long ride. Torokko Kameoka Station leads to Kameoka, a city separated from the main Kyoto area with stunning natural landscapes.

To use the Sagano Romantic train, head to Torokko Arashiyama Station or Torokko Saga Station. Tickets for the train can be bought the day of, or purchased at the Midori no Madoguchi at JR train stations across Japan.

It is recommended to try riding in "The Rich" car, which has a glass ceiling and no windows, allowing riders to see more of the scenery. Tickets for these seats are available for purchase only at Torokko stations on the day you want to ride.

Website: https://www.sagano-kanko.co.jp/en/

6. Okochi Sanso Villa: Visit a Historic Japanese Home

Okochi Sanso Villa

Picture courtesy of Okochi Sanso Villa
Okochi Sanso Villa is the former part-time residence of Okochi Denjiro (1898 - 1962), a famous actor known for his appearances in Japanese historical drama films in the early 20th century. The villa has been kept in pristine condition and is recognized nationally for its cultural importance.

A tea house and a garden on the grounds allow visitors to experience the villa with all the senses. You will feel relaxed walking through the home and the grounds, preparing for your next destination.

Okochi Sanso Villa

Picture courtesy of Okochi Sanso Villa
Admission to Okochi Sanso Villa is around 1,000 yen, which includes a matcha set with a Japanese sweet. You can visit Okochi Sanso Villa from 9:00 to 17:00, and the villa is open throughout the year. It is around a 15-minute walk from JR Saga Arashiyama Station to the villa, or directly accessible from Torokko Arashiyama Station.

Address: Kyoto, Ukyo, Saga, Ogurayama, Tabuta 8
Google Map

7. Jojakkoji Temple: Catch Your Breath at a Serene Spot

Jojakkoji Temple

Picture courtesy of Jojakkoji Temple
Jojakkoji Temple is a temple known for its abundant nature and stunning buildings. The precincts contain buildings dating back to the 17th century and before. In addition, the Niomon gate was constructed in the 14th century, showing the historical prominence of the temple.

Jojakkoji Temple

Picture courtesy of Jojakkoji Temple
The precinct is filled with trees and flowers, making Jojakkoji Temple an ideal place to visit any time of the year. The fall is particularly stunning, as is early summer, when pink varieties of azaleas are in bloom, contrasting brilliantly with the vivid moss-covered terrain.

Jojakkoji Temple is a five-minute walk from the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. Guests can enter the grounds from 9:00 to 17:00 (last entry at 16:30) for 500 yen.

Address: Kyoto, Ukyu, Saga, Ogurayama 3
Google Map
Website: https://www.jojakko-ji.or.jp/

8. Gioji Temple: Appreciate A Tranquil, Lush Moss Garden

Gioji Temple

Picture courtesy of Gioji Temple
Another well-known site in Arashiyama is Gioji Temple, standing out with its thatched roof huts and vast moss garden. Gioji Temple is mentioned in "The Tale of Heike," a famous Japanese narrative of the 12th-century Genpei War. It is considered a very scenic spot in Arashiyama and is sure to take away visitors' breaths with its beauty.

Gioji Temple

Picture courtesy of Gioji Temple
Gioji Temple is open from 9:00 to 17:00 (last admission at 16:30). Visitors can view Gioji Temple and Daikakuji Temple, an associated temple, with a joint admission ticket for 600 yen. The two temples are about 25 minutes apart on foot.

Address: Kyoto, Ukyo, Sagatori imoto, Kozaka 32
Google Map
Website: http://www.giouji.or.jp/en

9. Try Dango, Tofu Ice Cream, and Snacks

Dango

Arashiyama is a great spot to try Japanese food and local Kyoto varieties of dishes. In particular, the area around Togetsukyo Bridge is especially convenient for finding street food and snacks.

Some of the most popular are dango (rice flour dumplings on skewers), often topped with red bean paste, or sweet and savory mitarashi glaze. There are also seasonal varieties and different options depending on the place.

One unique dessert you can try is tofu ice cream. Kyozuan is a shop famous for its ice cream that can be held upside-down without falling.

For savory treats, try the freshly-fried croquettes--you will find them at several stands with different types of meat-based filling. They are easy to hold while you explore Arashiyama.

10. Arashiyama Yoshimura: Enjoy Soba Noodles by the Riverside

Arashiyama Yoshimura

Picture courtesy of Soba Restaurant Arashiyama Yoshimura
Soba Restaurant Arashiyama Yoshimura is located steps away from the Togetsukyo Bridge, right by the Katsuragawa River. Specializing in soba (buckwheat) noodles, diners can choose from a variety of soba sets that come with fish, tempura, and pickled Kyoto vegetables depending on the option. There is an English, Chinese, and Korean menu available.

The restaurant is open from 11:00 to 17:00 daily, but it is advised to confirm operation times on the website.

Address: Kyoto, Ukyo, Saga Tenryuji, Susukinobaba 3
Google Map
Website: http://yoshimura-gr.com/soba/index.php (Japanese)

11. Shigetsu: Experience Buddhist Temple Cuisine at Tenryuji

Shigetsu

Picture courtesy of Tenryuji Temple
Shigetsu is a restaurant located on the grounds of Tenryuji Temple by the garden. Diners here can experience shojin ryori, which is traditional Zen Buddhist cuisine, featuring foods like tofu, in-season vegetables, and rice. Shojin ryori is vegetarian and vegan-friendly, so a meal here is an excellent choice especially if anyone you are with has dietary restrictions.

There are three choices on the menu, but some require reservations in advance for parties of two or more. Pictured above is the Yuki set, which can be enjoyed without advanced notice. Please check the official website for more options.

Shigetsu is open from 11:00 to 14:00, so make sure to come during lunch hours. It is open year-round.

Address: Kyoto, Ukyo, Saga Tenryuji, Susukinobaba 68
Google Map
Website: http://www.tenryuji.com/en/shigetsu

12. % Arabica Kyoto Arashiyama: Sip on Stylish Coffee and Lattes

% Arabica Kyoto Arashiyama

If you are craving a pick-me-up while in Arashiyama, head to % Arabica Kyoto Arashiyama. Located right by Togetsukyo Bridge, this coffee stand is part of a global coffee company that specializes in single origin coffee and stylish lattes. One of three locations in Japan, its picture-perfect riverside position and great coffee here have resulted in this branch becoming very popular.

There is usually a line of customers that can even wrap around the path, so come in the morning if you want to avoid the wait. The beverages are delicious and make for a great picture. The shop operates from 8:00 to 18:00 daily.

Address: Kyoto, Ukyo, Susukinobaba, Saga Tenryuji 3-47
Website: https://arabica.coffee/location/arabica-kyoto-arashiyama/

13. Best Times to Visit Arashiyama

Arashiyama

As Arashiyama is a very popular Kyoto destination, visitors should be aware of potential crowds and the possibility of waiting in lines. In general, you can expect Arashiyama to be most crowded in afternoons, weekends, and public holidays. Ideal times to visit include weekdays and morning hours. If you are hoping to capture photography of the landscape or certain sites without people, try to come as early as you can in the day.

The cherry blossom season in Kyoto, which runs from late March to early April, is also another busy season. Fall foliage, which peaks around late October, is also another season to avoid if you don't want to deal with crowds. These are both undoubtedly stunning times to see Arashiyama, but visitors should be aware that it will be very crowded.

14. Getting to Arashiyama from Popular Areas in Kyoto

Sagano Scenic Railway

Located around nine kilometers northwest of central Kyoto, it is relatively simple to get to Arashiyama, and travelers have a few different options to choose from.

If you want to get from JR Kyoto Station to Arashiyama, take the San'in/Sagano Main Line bound for Kameoka or Sonobe. Get off at Saga Arashiyama Station. It takes 17 minutes on the local train and 11 minutes if you are on a rapid train. The fare is 240 yen one way, but if you have a valid Japan Rail Pass it will be free.

Travelers coming from Gion or the Kawaramachi area should use the Hankyu line. Depart on a train heading to Umeda from Hankyu Kawaramachi Station. Transfer to the Arashiyama line at Katsura Station and get off at Arashiyama Station. The total ride takes 14 minutes and costs 220 yen one way.

A third option is to use the Randen, a tram that runs from central Kyoto to Arashiyama. Ride if you want to visit spots like Ryoanji Temple, with its iconic Zen rock garden. From Ryoanji, ride the Kitano Line, and transfer at Katabiranotsuji Station to the Arashiyama Line. It costs 220 yen and takes around 25 minutes.

Take in the Best of Arashiyama, Kyoto

Without a doubt, Arashiyama is a place travelers should not miss when visiting Kyoto. Easily accessible and full of temples, traditional buildings, and food options, this is an ideal place to spend a day or half day. It is a popular area that does become crowded, however, so be sure to plan a trip itinerary that works with your travel style.

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.

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