Togetsukyo: A Bridge to Old Kyoto

All about the Togetsukyo Bridge of Kyoto

Togetsukyo Bridge Map and Location

The Togetsu-Kyo bridge is located in the mountain town of Saga Arashiyama from the ancient capital of Kyoto. It has a total length of 155 meters and traverses the Katsura river. The Togetsu-Kyo bridge is considered as one of the top 10 bridges in Japan and is also considered as a very popular tourist destination in the area. There are a variety of reasons why this is so. 

Since the bridge is located in a mountain town, the surroundings are filled with trees and shrubbery. This majestic backdrop perfectly reflects the changing season creating a romantic vibe in the place. Many people go here to enjoy the springtime blooms and the autumn foliage. There are a number of hotels around the area which are available for booking and reservations. 

Although the original bridge has been removed due to disrepair, a replica of the bridge was built exactly at the same location. The new bridge was modeled from the old wooden bridge that was built in the area in the 7th century. 

Togetsukyo Bridge Opening Hours

Since the bridge is an open space amenity that is open to the public, access to the bridge is seldom restricted. It does not have an opening and closing hours compared to other tourist destinations in the area. The only thing to note here is the fact that there is a danger when going to such a place at night since it is located in the mountains. Help may not easily come in case of an emergency. The good thing is that there are security outposts a few hundred meters away from the bridge. 

Togetsukyo Bridge Entrance Fee

Currently, there is no entrance fee going into the bridge as it is a public pedestrian walkway. During the earlier times, the bridge was built to connect the two parts of Arashiyama which have been cut by the Katsura and the Hozu river. It was constructed to easily transport individuals and good to and fro the river. This actually lessens the transportation cost and access to both sides will be easier. 

Access to Togetsukyo Bridge

There are a few ways to access this famous bridge in Kyoto. One way is to ride a train via the Arashiyama Mainline and get off at the Arashiyama station. Another way is to ride the Hankyu Arashiyama Railway line then get off at the Arashiyama station. From the Arashiyama station, the bridge is about 5 to 10 minutes away on foot. The Togetsukyo bridge can also be accessed via the city bus as it is just a few minutes away from the Arashiyama Park stop. 

The Togetsu-Kyo bridge can also be accessed via the Keifuku Randen Tram line, specifically the Arashiyama line. Although this particular means of transportation is quite old, the city of Kyoto still does not decommission it. This is because it provides very scenic routes around the city.

The History of the Togetsukyo Bridge in Arashiyama

There are no specific records that show the exact year when the Togetsu-Kyo bridge was constructed. However, historical records show that it may have happened during the Heian period between the 7th and 11th century. 

The bridge that currently stands was built in the 1930s. However, the reason why the bridge lasted more than half a decade is the fact that the piers, columns, and beams have been replaced with reinforced concrete. Only the parapets remain wooded, giving off an illusion that it is still the same bridge that exists for hundreds of years. 

The name of the bridge was coined by Emperor Kameyama in the late 11th century. According to his observations, the water from the river is so calm that it perfectly reflects its surroundings. The moon is beautifully reflected by the water that it seems that it is crossing the bridge little by little every night. This is why the bridge was literally named “Moon crossing” bridge. 

The Legend of the Hori-ji and Jusan Mairi

There are a number of important celebrations, festivals, and events in Japan which could be dated back centuries from the current time. Since Kyoto is such a historical city, it is only understandable that many of these celebrations originate here.

One of these would be the Jusan Mairi which is the celebration of the coming of age of young Japanese. It is celebrated during the 13th of April of every year and it is a celebration for children turning the age of 13. It is believed that the 13th year of the child’s life is the time they complete one Chinese Zodiac cycle. 

During the ancient times, young children at the age of 12 (or 13 before the year ends) shall visit the shrine of Horin-ji in Kyoto. They make offerings to the god of wisdom and pray for good fortune. Usually, it is a custom for the child to write a kanji character most special to them and offer them to the gods. 

In turn, the gods will gift them with knowledge. The ritual is completed when the child crosses the Togetsu-Kyo bridge without looking back. It is believed that if they look back they will forget all the wisdom that they have just received. However, in a less literal sense, it is merely a sign that they have finally left behind their childhood and are readying themselves for adulthood. 

Crossing the Bridge

Togetsukyo Bridge to Bamboo Grove

There is actually no direct connection between the bridge and the bamboo groves of Sagano. This is why asking for directions from the information center may be helpful. This is also important to note because there are no signs showing direction going to the grove. 

The bamboo grove of Arashiyama is a special park which is great for a relaxing afternoon. The grove is located about 10 minutes away from the bridge. It is right across the Hozu river of Arashiyama. What is special about the bamboo grove is that it is a simple nature sanctuary with towering bamboo that grows as tall as a two-story structure. People can simply walk through the pathways or rent a bicycle to ride around the park.

This bamboo grove has great economic value for the people of Arashiyama as it is a source of one of their products for exportation. Furniture, accessories, and other household items made from bamboo are popular products in this region. 

Based on traveler reviews, the quiet sound of the wind is calming and peaceful. The light breeze is causing the bamboo to sway. Although the pathway is just about 500 meters long, it only takes a few minutes to complete the journey. The problem with this place, on the other hand, is that it is hard to enjoy the peace with the crowd. Since it is a popular tourist destination in the area, there is usually an influx of tourists visiting the place, especially during the weekends. s

Togetsukyo Bridge to Tenryuji Temple

The Tenryuji temple is located right next to the Bamboo groves and is considered as one of the most popular tourist destinations in Kyoto. It is also considered as one of the most important temples in all of Kyoto. In fact, it is so popular that it is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Just like its surroundings, the temple buildings is a symbol of vitality, peace, and life. The buildings inside the temple complex are well preserved even though it experienced calamities through the years. It is so well-kept that its garden which is centuries old still remains intact. 

There is no direct connection between this shrine and the Togetsu-Kyo bridge but it can be accessed via a few minutes of walking. When visiting the Togetsu-Kyo bridge, make sure to visit the temple as well. It will surely teach travelers of the local history and culture of Arashiyama. 

Tegetsukyo Bridge to Kinkakuji

The Golden Pavilion, or the Kinkakuji, is probably the most majestic structure in all of Kyoto. It is literally painted gold with ornate gold leaves as a design. It is built over a large pond. Based on history books, this particular structure was built as a symbol of the wealth and aristocracy of many clans and families in Tokyo at the time. 

It is surrounded by a large zen garden which was accessible to the all the residents of the structure. There was a time in history when the head priest and the monks had living quarters within the complex. The particular temple is actually of Buddhist origins which is why there are a number of Buddha statues inside the structure. 

The problem, on the other hand, is the fact that it takes roughly 25 minutes to get to Kinkakuji from the Togetsu-Kyo bridge. It is not directly connected to the bridge but the bridge ensured an easier and safer way to travel between the two sides of Kyoto. An entrance fee of about 400 yen is required before entering the temple. 

Togetsukyo Bridge to Adashino Nenbutsuji

The Nenbutsu-ji is right across the Hozu river and can be accessed via a short ride from the Togetsu-Kyo bridge. There are streets leading to this temple when coming from the bridge. The said temple is one of the best examples of ancient Japanese architecture. What is most ironic about this temple is the fact that there are 8,000 statues of monks in one area of the temple. It is believed that these are the representations of monks who have died without family or kin. 

The main purpose of the temple is to commemorate the lives of not just monks but anyone who have died without any family members or loved ones to remember them. There are ceremonies and rituals which are performed for their souls’ eternal repose. Usually, at the night of the 23rd and 24th of August a candle lighting ceremony is held in the temple grounds. This is a form of prayer for these people who have died with no one to pray for them. The temple is quite a solemn place to visit, similar to the vibe of the Togetsukyo bridge. Entry to the temple costs about 300 yen. 

Best time to Visit the Togetsukyo Bridge of Kyoto

Togetsukyo Bridge Winter

The surroundings of Togetsu-Kyo becomes a winter wonderland during the cold season. The surrounding trees are capped with a soft layer of snow. The trees around the area become frosted white. The surrounding hills and mountainside become covered with layers of snow. The river does not freeze over but there are some parts of it which turn into ice. The surroundings are truly beautiful in white during the winter season. 

Togetsukyo Bridge Summer

The backdrop of the bridge becomes such a symbol of vitality during the summertime because almost everything turns bright green. The surrounding trees start to bear fruit and the shrubs become thick with leaves and flowers. It is interesting to see as well the migration of the fishes going upstream of the river. The bridge becomes a very popular place to feed wild koi from the river during the summertime. 

Togetsukyo Bridge Spring

What makes the Togetsukyo special is the fact that it is lined with a significant number of cherry trees. The Togetsu-Kyo bridge becomes a very popular location for viewing the blooms during the peak months of April and early May. The fragrance of sakura fills the air and people enjoy spending the Hanami festival on the bridge. On top of that, the surroundings become a beautifully colorful sight. The shrubs have flowers of so many colors. The mountainside has bright patches of yellows, oranges, pinks and more. The place is truly a romantic place to visit during the springtime. 

Togetsukyo Bridge Fall

If the springtime brings rainbow colors to the mountainside, the Togetsu-Kyo bridge becomes the best place to view the autumn foliage in Arashiyama. The leaves of the trees that were once bright green and yellow now turned orange, red, and brown. The trees start shedding its leaves which is an amazing phenomenon to see.