Arashiyama Bamboo Forest in Kyoto offers a serene and otherworldly experience amidst the swaying bamboo boughs, providing a visual delight and a peaceful retreat to nature. It is seen in many Instagram photos, YouTube videos and web pages.
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If you’ve been planning a trip to Kyoto, you’ve probably seen pictures of the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove – along with the torii tunnels of Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine and Kinkaku-ji Temple, it’s one of the most photographed sights in the city.
Is it worth a vist ?
Surprising, it’s a difficult question. Let me share my trip to Arashiyama Bamboo Forest and two other experiences I have and share my thoughts at the end.
First, let’s get ourselves to Arashiyama Bamboo Forest !
About Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
The Arashiyama district 嵐山, situated in Kyoto, is a popular tourist destination known for its famous Bamboo Forest, natural spots, monkeys, and shrines.
The Bamboo Grove, open 24/7 with no admission fee, provides a surreal experience with its towering bamboo and serene ambiance, recognized as one of the “100 Soundscapes of Japan” by the Ministry of Environment.
Key attractions in Arashiyama include the Iwatayama Monkey Park, Kameyama-kōen Park, traditional ryokans like Arashiyama Benkei and Hanaikada, and various temples such as Tenryu-Ji, Nison-in, Jojako-ji, Gio-ji, and Adashino-Nembutsu-ji, along with the Okochi Sanso Villa.
The district is an immersion into Japanese culture, offering visitors a blend of outdoor adventures, temple visits, and peaceful retreats.
Arashiyama is an ideal day trip destination, providing an escape to a simpler and more peaceful time, offering a respite from the bustling city life.
How to get to Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
Access to Arashiyama can be facilitated from Kyoto Station. From our Marriott hotel at Shin-Osaka, we got to Kyoto Station. At Kyoto Station, we ride the JR Sagano Line to Saga-Arashiyama Station.
We took the JR Sagano Line at platfrom 31-33.
Tons of people are going that direction so you will not get lost. You can also see that it is the way to take the famous Sagano Scenic Railway.
Arriving at Saga Arashiyama Station, JR Sagano line, it is then just a 10 minutes walk.
As I said, follow the crowd or the signs :). The sign said “Left Turn (South Gate) at Saga Arashiyama Station to reach Arashiyama Bamboo Forest.”
And again, let’s follow the crowd..
Or use this map 🙂
Unless you are going really super early to avoid the crowd, it is pretty hard to get lost as people are just going that. Signs are many along the way anyway.
You might even want to end up at one of these (many) Kimono Rental shops to get dressed up to take photos at the area.
For us we did that already in Kiyomizu-dera area so did not do that for this area.
Cross the road and turn right..
The sign showed you the way..
Till you might miss the entrance to the Bamboo Forest… turn left at this point
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
And welcome to the famous forest.
The first thing that stuck me is that there are just too many people. It is incredibly difficult to get a good photo shot of yourself alone at this place. Unless you come super early or at the right season.
Else it is just people and people.
Secondly, the “output” of the photos do not seemed to do the place justice. I guess it is either my photo taking skills (damn the number of people there) and the season (lighting at the time of the day). I mean my photos do not even look good. It does not even look GREEN 🙂
In the excellent book, Photography Guide to Japan, Patkay said…
If you want fewer people, come earlier.
Note that due to the density of the bamboo, first light and the first half-hour of sunrise won’t do you much good, as it will take a little while for the light to be high enough to start passing through the trees.
Unfortunately, that’s the trade-off you have to make at this location; people, or light.Photography Guide to Japan
It is really that.. so let me share my usual lousy Patnotebook Photo Taking Skills..
Why did the two person appear in my photo !
This looks brown. Rather than Green. I need to come back in Summer ?
Look up sometimes
Last one before you are bored…
At the end of the walk, it will bring you to the entrance to Kameyama-koen Park.
Arashiyama Park Kameyama Area 嵐山公園
Ironically, this part of the trip is more “beautiful” than the Bamboo Forest itself. Again it is just me and the time I visited.
Arashiyama Park, located in the Kameyama area in Kyoto, Japan, is a renowned destination known for its natural beauty, serene atmosphere, and historic landmarks. Arashiyama Park itself is a famous public park that encompasses various attractions, including lush gardens, scenic walking paths, and breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. It is particularly popular during the cherry blossom and fall foliage seasons when the vibrant colors of the trees create a stunning spectacle.
Shortly after entering the park, take the cobblestone path uphill. Keep walking until you reach the summit of the park.
It is not a difficult walk but it does take a little effort. Your reward at the end is worth it.
Beautiful views await you.. There is a viewing area at the summit of the park that affords excellent views of the Arashiyama Mountains and down to the Hozu-gawa River.
Hozugawa River Boat Ride or is it Katsura-gawa River
From the summit, walk down and walk towards the river. Keep heading downhill, sticking to the right. You will soon pass the wooden sign for Shorai-an, a traditional tofu restaurant. The river will also appear through the trees at this point. Head down the paths to the river. You’ll soon arrive at the pleasant, flat walkway along the Katsura-gawa River. Take a left and follow it downstream.
So at the river, you can opt to walk along the river or take a boat ride or just walk to the Arashiyama Station (not to be confused with Saga Arashiyama Station that we came from). Or visit the famous % ARABICA Kyoto Arashiyama coffee place.
For us, we took this red route.
We crossed the river by the boats supplied by the tea house (or eating place) at opposite bank to reach the tea house.. and have a meal there !
Of course must try the Tofu Soup !
Or Noodles !
After the meal, walk along the river bank and cross the famous Togetsu-kyo Bridge to reach the Arashiyama Station !
The Togetsukyo Bridge
The Togetsukyo Bridge, translated as the “Moon Crossing Bridge,” is a prominent landmark located in the Arashiyama district of Kyoto, Japan. This iconic bridge stretches over the Katsura River and serves as a vital connection between the Arashiyama area and the Sagano district. Its picturesque setting amid the natural beauty of the surrounding mountains and the river makes it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.
The Togetsukyo Bridge has a rich history that dates back to the Heian period (794-1185). Initially built during the late 8th century, the bridge has undergone several renovations and reconstructions over the centuries. It has become an essential part of the scenic beauty that characterizes the Arashiyama area.
The bridge offers spectacular views of the surrounding natural landscapes, particularly during the cherry blossom season in spring and the autumn foliage season in the fall. Many visitors come to the bridge to enjoy the panoramic views and capture memorable photographs of the seasonal beauty.
Near the bridge, visitors can find numerous shops, restaurants, and traditional tea houses, adding to the cultural experience of the area. The combination of historical significance, natural beauty, and the lively atmosphere of the surrounding shops and eateries makes the Togetsukyo Bridge a central attraction in the Arashiyama district of Kyoto. Visitors often find the bridge to be an excellent starting point for exploring the various attractions that Arashiyama has to offer.
See .. people many many again
After crossing the Togetsu-kyo Bridge, a short walk will bring you to the Arashiyama Station !
Arashiyama Station is a railway station located in the Arashiyama district of Kyoto, Japan. It is a key transportation hub that serves as a gateway for visitors to explore the scenic beauty and cultural attractions of the Arashiyama area. The station is operated by the private railway company, Keifuku Electric Railroad, which operates the Randen Arashiyama Line.
The Randen Arashiyama Line connects Arashiyama Station to central Kyoto, making it convenient for both tourists and locals to access the popular attractions in the area. The station’s convenient location near many of Arashiyama’s main landmarks, including the Togetsukyo Bridge, the Sagano Bamboo Forest, and the Tenryu-ji Temple, makes it an ideal starting point for exploring the district.
This is also where the Kimono Forest is. The Kimono Forest in Kyoto is an enchanting art installation, featuring a pathway adorned with colorful kimono fabric panels, showcasing the beauty of traditional Japanese design and culture.
And this is also the place we found transport to Kinkakuji Golden Pavilion Kyoto : Beautiful Stunning Temple
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest : To Go or Not To Go
So back to the question ? Is it worth your time to Arashiyama Bamboo Forest ?
My personal view is that if you have never visited it before, it is worth a short trip to take a quick look at the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. Then follow up to the summit of Arashiyama Park to take beautiful photos of the river. And maybe spend some time at the river and crossing the Togetsu-kyo Bridge to reach the Arashiyama Station.
Other than that, it all depends on
(1) Season you arrive at Arashiyama Bamboo Forest ? Which is better ? Summer ? Spring ? Autumn ? Winter ??
(2) Timing to arrive at Arashiyama Bamboo Forest to avoid the crowds
(3) Taking the right photos at Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. I have friends who took their wedding photos there. I have friends who rented Kimono there. I have people like me who just snapped a few photos and said “I have been here” at Instagram.
All depends 🙂
I still prefer other parts of Kyoto 🙂