A Comprehensive Travel Guide to Arashiyama, Kyoto

Learning About Arashiyama

Kyoto has been known in history as the old capital city of Japan. It has a very rich history and culture, perfect for any traveler wishing for something more than just shopping. Kyoto prefecture, as a whole, has hundreds of popular tourist sites. However, one of the most popular is the Arashiyama district. 

Arashiyama is one of the most visited locations in all of Kyoto prefecture and has gained popularity for its beautiful mountain views. In fact, it is nationally known as the official “Place of Scenic Beauty” which is a title not many places in Japan get. This place is perfect for tourists, especially during the spring and autumn season. During the spring time, a number of tourists visit the region because of the beautiful display of cherry blossoms. Furthermore, the trees surrounding the district is even more popular during the fall season because of its romantic, warm hues of orange, brown, yellow, and red. 

Arashiyama Weather and Climate: the cold Arashiyama winter

Springtime is a popular tour season in the Arashiyama region. The peak of the cherry blossom blooms happens during the last week of March and the first week of April. On average, the best time to view the cherry blossoms would be between the 30th of March to the 5th of April. This is the time when cherry blossom blooms are at its most beautiful.

Summer is also a great time to enjoy Arashiyama. Since most of the tourist spots in the area feature a nice nature feel, summer is a great time for a visit. It is when the trees are mostly green, the koi living in the river are hungry and much more.

The fall season is also a great time to visit Arashiyama. The beautiful mountain view becomes like a wave of flame because of the warm hues of autumn. The rich red, orange, and brown color of the leaves added to the perfect crispness in the air is a perfect time for a romantic stroll.

The cold winter climate in Arashiyama is the time when not many places can be visited. It is unsafe to hike the hills up to popular tourist spots. It is the time when most of Arashiyama is at rest. However, these are the times to best enjoy the Ryokans and Onsens in the region. The hot waters of the natural springs are perfect for the cool winter temperature.

How to go to Arashiyama

Arashiyama Map

Most of the tourist attractions in Arashiyama are enjoyable nature trips. They all involve hikes, trails, and nature. This is why it is best to understand the Arashiyama map so it is easy to go to certain locations around the region. It would be best to go to your hotel’s reception desk to ask for a map around the city.

Mainland Arashiyama is home to the Bamboo grove and the Tenryuji. It is also home to temples such as the Rinsen-hi and the Hogon-in temple. Some of these temples are known to honor mice, bull, and other animals. At around the southern area of the region lies the Hibari Misora Museum and the Music Box Museum. The Togetsukyo bridge connects the mainland Arashiyama to a small island known as the Nakanoshima park.

The entire area is interconnected by trails and walkways. A full enjoyable trip that could last for hours – the Arashiyama region is worth every sweat and calorie burnt. Not only is the place a great place to enjoy nature, the trip is also a great way to lose weight!

Arashiyama Station

The best way to access the Arashiyama station is through the JR Sagano line. This connects the Kyoto station to the Arashiyama Station. The travel time totals to about 15 minutes and costs about 240 yen. Most places near the area can access Arashiyama through trains and buses. However, some faraway places such as Oita, Tokyo, Hiroshima, and the like are places that require plane rides to reach the city.

Things to do in Arashiyama, Kyoto

Appreciate nature in Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

This place has been considered as one of the most enjoyable sights not only in Arashiyama but in all of Kyoto. It has a nature trail whose both sides are filled with towering bamboo. A rich trail of luscious green which makes any visitor feel as if they are in another world. According to a number of reports, this particular tourist destination is one of the most photographed spots in all of Kyoto. It is not like an experience of any other forest in the world, it gives out a feeling of freshness and newness adding to its popularity.

This attraction is most popular during the spring and summer seasons when the temperature is perfect for a slow, yet enjoyable, stroll around the grove. It is also during this time that soft winds make the bamboo slowly sway creating an even more serene vibe in the area. Riding bikes through the grove are also encouraged.

This particular attraction in Arashiyama has only one trail or path that slowly goes uphill leading to the Okochi-Sanso Villa. This villa is the former villa of an actor named Okochi Denjiro and is home to a variety of tea houses and gardens. However, entry to the buildings is not allowed. 

A historical trip to the Togetsukyo Bridge

A name that literally translates to “Moon Crossing Bridge”, this particular structure is the most important tourist destination in all of the Arashiyama. It was built as a wooden bridge in 794 during the Heian period making it more than 400 years old. In the 1930s, the bridge has been redeveloped into its concrete and steel structure that it is.

What makes this particular structure special, other than its age and role in history, is the view that it gives to its passengers. There is a forested mountainside on the background with luscious cherry trees on the river side. During the late spring season, the view of the cherry flowers is romantic and enjoyable. A lot of people stop by at this place during the Hanami celebrations.

The bridge is so iconic that there had been numerous shows and films throughout the years that used it as a setting. A number of people also visit this place because of the enjoyable activity of feeding koi living in the river.

One very interesting tradition done in Kyoto is the initiation and blessing of local children. It is believed that young girls and boys are blessed by the local temple and are made to walk across the bridge. If any of these kids look back, it is believed that it will bring them bad luck.

A place for the Kids: Arashiyama Monkey Park

At the south of the Togetukyo bridge is the Arashiyama monkey park. A short hike uphill will lead to a large open area home to hundreds of monkeys freely roaming in the area. Before entering the park, there is a traditional torii gate at the entrance. There is also a shrine located near the park’s gates.

Although touching the monkeys are not allowed, having them around makes the entire trip enjoyable. They are Japanese Macaques or snow monkeys. They are often seen lounging around hot springs in the area. The most enjoyable time to visit would be the feeding time at 10:30 AM, 12:30 PM and 2:30 PM where most of the monkeys hiding in caves and groves will come out.

Other than the adorable monkeys, a number of tourists have vouched for the beauty of the view. After climbing a total of 160 meters up the hill, a beautiful overlooking view of Kyoto can be seen at the summit. It shows a wonderful and luscious mountain side. Anyone can see that nature is clearly preserved in this location.

The Spiritual Journey to the Tenryuji Temple

Known as one of Kyoto’s Five Great Zen Temples, this temple is the largest in all of Arashiyama. It was built in the 1300s and was believed to have been built to appease the former emperor’s sad spirit. It has been preserved through the efforts of UNESCO. This is one of Japan’s many UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The oldest part of the temple is the garden that has survived through war and fire through the centuries. It is believed to have been built by the temple’s first head priest, Muso Soseki. Admission to the temple costs about 500 yen for the outer areas and 800 yen for a packaged entrance to the inner and outer areas of the temple.

Resorts for the family in the Arashiyama Benkei Ryokan

This particular resort is one of the most popular in all of Arashiyama. Its popularity has been ranked and reviewed by different travel websites such as Tripadvisor. It is a fantastic place to go to for children. One of the most important values of this place is their hospitality - the ryokan has been clearly reviewed to have friendly and accommodating staff.

Other than the relaxing pools and the accommodating staff, a lot of tourists and visitors have commended the place for their great food. They offer delicious meals which are affordable – giving a great bonus to the entire trip. Anyone visiting Arashiyama, or Kyoto, must ensure a visit to this resort.

Enjoy a relaxing vacation in an Arashiyama Onsen

Onsens have been a recent discovery in the area and there are a number of popular ryokans within Arashiyama. Just right next to the Togetsukyo bridge is the Arashiyama Hanaikada which is a private Onsen bath perfect for any relaxing getaway. Since Japan is home to a number of volcanoes, it is only understandable that there are a number of hot springs found in almost all areas of Japan. Being a mountainous region, Kyoto is home to a number of natural hot springs as well.

Finding the perfect Arashiyama Stone

Culinary lovers and chefs are delighted to find out that Arashiyama is home to one of the most popular whetstones or sharpening stones in the world. Among the most popular is the Arashiyama Stone 6000 which is a 6000 grit stone useful in sharpening kitchen knives. According to reports from experts, these kinds of stones are perfect for ensuring the fine finish of carbon steel knives. Also known as Waterstones, these kinds of stones are those that are found at the Oi River.

Top Restaurants in Arashiyama

Arashiyama Sobanomi Yoshimura

This particular restaurant is the most popular place to enjoy local delicacies, particularly soba noodles. A small, humble place it is a cozy place to enjoy a warm bowl of soba noodles. According to previous tourists, the soba that they serve is not only affordable, it also meets the perfect combination of flavor, texture, and taste. The most popular dish is the bowl that offers karaage toppings. The restaurant also offers buckwheat tea – an enjoyable drink for all.

Koto Imohompo

For those visiting the area during the spring and summer seasons, going to the Koto imohompo is a must. They serve what is known as Spring Ice cream – flavored with natural matcha and cream. It is a small store in the area and can easily be missed by a traveler who is not quite familiar with the place. Asking around can help anyone find the missing store.

Taishou Hanana

Another popular restaurant in the area is the Taishou Hanana. It is a small, quiet, and humble restaurant, hidden between the structures of Arashiyama. It is near the bamboo groves and is the perfect place to get stuffed up for lunch. A number of food journalists have noted that this restaurant gives the best or perfect lunch. The main best-selling dish is the sea bream which is a lightly cooked or with sashimi.

A casual restaurant, they offer a menu filled with fine-dine meals which are beautifully plated and carefully prepared. For those who wish to eat in this restaurant, it is important to remember that it opens at 11:00 AM. The problem is that queuing is already long prior that. On the other hand, all those that have waited to be served in this restaurant has claimed that the food will certainly make every minute count.