Sagano, the Home of 8th Century Kyoto Aristocrats

A Guide to Sagano Japan

Sagano Japan Map

It is actually difficult to distinguish between Sagano and Arashiyama in Kyoto as they are located in the same town or neighborhood. This is one of the places in Kyoto which is contrasting to its ancient and historical appeal. The major selling point of the area would be more on nature and less on the historical value of the place. It is believed that Sagano and Arashiyama are popular vacation destinations for the Aristocrats of the 8th century and it is only they that own lands around the area. This is also why there was a time in history when access to this parts of the land is restricted only to the nobles.

The location of the place is somewhere from the western portion of Kyoto going to Kameoka. It is a part of the city of Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan. It is a popular destination for people who wish to relax and be soothed by nature

The Sagano and Arashiyama area of Kyoto is most popular for the Cherry blossoms during early April. This is the time of year when there are most visitors in the area. Also, the entire neighborhood is a tourist destination every autumn because of the beautiful fall foliage and changing season colors. Popular activities in the area are bicycling, cormorant fishing, camping, and the like. People go here to simply enjoy nature and the scenic views.

Sagano Japan Weather

Since Kyoto is located in the northern region of Japan, it is understandable that they experience four different seasons in a year. On the other hand, compared to many northern islands of the country they experience many mild winters. They also experience humid and mild summers as well. For the most part of the year, the place experiences a significant amount of rainfall.

Travel Tips to Sagano Japan

Access to Sagano Japan

There are different ways of getting to Arashiyama and Sagano from varied parts of Japan. For instance, it could be accessed via the Hankyu Railways from central Kyoto. The Hankyu mainline takes its passengers to the Katsura station and from here, they could transfer to the Hankyu Arashiyama line bound for Arashiyama. Usually, from central Kyoto, the ride takes about 30 minutes and the total cost is a little over 200 yen per person.

People also have the option of taking the bus going to Arashiyama from different parts of Kyoto. However, due to the fact that there a number of tourists traveling around the city, traffic jams can be a common problem. For those already in Sagano, many people tend to just rent out bicycles when touring the neighborhood. This is to avoid traffic and to enjoy the scenery even more since the town sells majorly on nature alone. The price is only about 1,000 yen per person every day.

Accommodations Near Sagano Japan

Since the place is near central Kyoto, there are a number of accommodations and hotels available in the area at different addresses. Usually, these hotels line up the river and provide incredible views of the mountainside. Here are a few of the most popular hotels in all of Arashiyama:

  • Arashiyama Benkei – This is located in the Ukyoku area of Kyoto prefecture and it boasts of the traditional style of their hotel. Majority of the hotel is made up of wood and glass. They have sliding doors and sliding windows all over the hotel. They have tatami mat rooms and western style rooms as well. This is roughly 400 meters away from the center of Arashiyama.

  • Kyoto Ranzan - For those looking for the basic accommodation at an affordable price, they can stay here. They have double bedrooms with free wifi. It is roughly 300 meters away from the center of Arashiyama.

  • Hananoie – This is actually more of a bed and breakfast and less of a hotel. It also offers traditional-style rooms with tatami mats and more. It is roughly 600 meters away from the city center of Arashiyama.

Must Eat at Sagano Japan

Yuba (Tofu Skin)

Many people are actually weirded out by this particular delicacy but people from Arashiyama and Sagano testify that it is one of the best they have tasted. Yuba, also known as Tofu Skin, is a kind of snack made from boiling soybeans. When the soy milk is being boiled, a thin film is being formed at the top. These are then collected and dried into sheets. Although they are generally tasteless, the addition of seasoning can bring delicious texture and flavor to this particular snack. It is said that this particular dish can be dated back to 16th century Japan and is served in court meals. Nowadays, it serves as a popular meat alternative for people who are vegans and vegetarians. This is a popular lunchtime delicacy in Kyoto as well.


What best to describe a full Kyoto experience that to try a traditional snack from the traditional city. The Kyo-wagashi has been a favorite of Kyoto youth since the ancient times. it is a sweet made from a red bean paste and sweet sticky rice cakes. These are usually served in tea ceremonies as the sweetness is perfectly balanced by the taste and flavors of green tea. Many people who travel to Arashiyama and Sagano usually take home boxes of these kinds of sweets as they serve as great souvenirs. There are many restaurants around Japan that give these snacks together with their tea as a package.

Yudofu (hot broth Tofu)

Known as hot tofu, this particular dish is another popular for vegans and vegetarians visiting Japan. It is literally tofu cooked in piping hot broth. It has a very light and refreshing flavor and is usually served with greens on the side. It only requires two ingredients and it is very easy to make. The broth is made from dashi kombu and when the tastiness from this is brought out, the tofu is tossed in. Some people like adding Japanese herbs like Mitsuba to the soup to add color and more texture. This dish is great for a light dinner.

Must See at Sagano Japan

Sagano Bamboo Forest

This particular tourist destination is the most popular in all of Kyoto as it is a great place to relax, reflect, and meditate. This particular grove is located about 30 to 40 minutes from the center of Kyoto city yet many people still visit it on a daily basis. This is due to the fact that it provides an interesting contrast between the natural beauty of the grove and the urbanity of the surroundings in Kyoto.

There are hundreds of towering bamboo shoots growing in the Sagano bamboo forest. Many of these reach about 10 to 15 feet up into the sky. What many people enjoy the most are the gentle swaying of the trees along with the wind. The sound that this swaying makes is truly one-of-a-kind and is also one of the reasons people enjoy visiting. The rustle of the leaves, the creaking of the wood, and the knocking together of trunks – the true sound of nature.

What is interesting is that this place in Sagano has been turned into a “soundscape” where people could literally record the sound an take it home. It is designed not only to create wonders to the sight but to tickle one’s eardrums as well. Visiting the bamboo forest is truly a feast for the senses.

Sagano Scenic Railway

This particular railway is also known as the Sagano Romantic Train as it is a sightseeing train that runs between Arashiyama and Kameoka. The trains are made from early 1900s design trains and run quite slower than the metro lines in existence today. The trains go through the mountains and take its passengers on a pleasant scenic journey. This particular train line is most famous during the spring and autumn season because of the colorful blossoms in the mountainside during the spring and the fall colors during autumn. However, the trains do not operate during the winter season.

There are two stops in the entire train line, the Torokko Kameoka station and the Torokko Saga Station. JR ticket offices usually open to selling a ticket to this particular train line. Tickets are also available at the Torokko Saga Station. The other end is at the Torokko Kameoka Station and visitors have the option of taking the train back or take the Hozugawa River cruise. This is a truly enjoyable experience that cannot be beaten.

Hozugawa River Cruise

This is a boat ride that takes passengers through the Hozugawa river from Kameoka to Arashiyama. It is another option for people to enjoy the beautifully forested ravines of Arashiyama and Sagano. The boats used in this trip are flat-bottomed and are designed in the traditional Heian era style. It is a relaxing way to enjoy the hidden natural beauty of Kyoto – it is a refreshing experience away from all the ancient buildings and sites in Kyoto.

In history, this particular means of transportation was popular in transporting logs from the forests to Kyoto’s castles and temples. It is also a popular place to find grain being transported from one place to another. However, when roads were developed in the area boat rides simply became tourist activities rather than daily transportation.

Togetsukyo Bridge

This is the most important tourist destination in the Arashiyama and Sagano area of Kyoto. It is a 155-meter pedestrian bridge that crosses over the Katsura river. It has been in existence since Kyoto was still the capital city but was continuously refurbished for safety. The Togetsukyo bridge is also known as the moon crossing bridge because, at certain times of the month, the clear reflection of the moon on the water creates an illusion that the moon is crossing over the bridge.

This place is a popular destination not only for couples but friends and families as well. It is a great way to enjoy the beauty of Kyoto’s natural backdrop. At the back of it is the Arashiyama mountain which has the most amazing display of cherry blossoms during spring. Many movies and books have used the Togetsukyo bridge as a setting in their stories.

Tenryuji Temple

This is the most important temple in the entire Arashiyama and Sagano area of Kyoto. It is one of the five great Zen temples in Japan and was registered as a World Heritage Site in the past decade. It was established in the 13th century and was dedicated to Emperor Go-Daigo. It is believed that it is through the prayers and offerings in this temple that the spirit of the deceased emperor shall be appeased.

The temple has several well-preserved buildings which survived calamities inwards over the past few centuries. Impressively, the last known major renovation of the entire temple happened in the Meiji Restoration Period. It is one of the lucky temples which were selected to be renovated instead of demolished. The temple has its own garden which also survived through the centuries, still in its original form.

Jojakkoji Temple

A small temple located near the Arashiyama area of Kyoto, this is the perfect spot to enjoy the quiet reverie of nature. The greenery in the area is soothing and relaxing for its visitors, especially during the times when there are not many people around the temple. Although it is not as popular as other tourist destinations in the area, a visit is still worth every yen spent.

Saga-Toriimoto Preserved Street

This is one of the many streets in Tokyo which has been preserved perfectly through time. It is located along the Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple and many structures have been standing in this place since the Meiji Restoration period. Although it is mostly a residential street where most of the buildings are owned privately, many tourists still visit this place for the authentic ‘Old Japan’ experience. Some of these homes have been transformed into museums, hotels, and restaurants over the years. It is the perfect quiet place to enjoy whenever in the Arashiyama and Sagano area.