Just a short train ride from Gion or Kyoto Station, Arashiyama (嵐山) is a small sub-section of greater Kyoto, tucked into the base of the city’s western mountains. Famous for the bamboo forest walk and the docile macaque monkeys that live in the mountain top park, Arashiyama has always been a popular destination for tourists. For good reason!, It’s absolutely lovely!
If you can spare the time, I recommend renting a bike (Kyoto Bike Rental) from your hostel or local bike shop and making our way to Arashiyama by bike. Japan’s bike infrastructure is world-class with bike lanes on the major thoroughfare sidewalks and park paths. Or you may find yourself pleasantly lost along the way in the narrow neighborhood streets of Kyoto filled with traditional shops and restaurants other tourists are unlikely to discover. Those who feel less comfortable can rent a bike outside the Arashiyama train stations for 1000 Yen, or $10 US dollars.
Sights to see in Arashiyama, Kyoto
- Bamboo Forest Walk (Jump To)
- Macaque Monkey Park Iwatayama (Jump To)
- Arashiyama Temples & Shrines (Jump To)
- Local Shops & Markets (Jump To)
- Directions to Arashiyama (Train & Bike – Jump To)
Bamboo Groves & Forest Walk
A short stretch of forest lined with bamboo stalks, just north of the Arashiyama Park-Kameyama Area which you can find by walking west along the riverfront along the northern bank. It’s an extremely popular spot for photo taking, so expect lots of people during prime daytime hours.
Monkey Park Iwatayama (嵐山モンキーパーク)
The entrance is just off the southern bank of the river as you cross the main ‘Togetsu-kyo’ Bridge. It’s a short walk uphill to the top of Mt. Arashiyama. You can enjoy the many signs along the way leading to the monkey park, very kid friendly. The view is covered by thick forest canopy in places, however as you approach the top the view is quite fantastic!
Travellers may have mixed feelings about monkeys as tourist attractions, as many groups become dependant on either being fed or stealing food from tourists. Aggravated monkeys can be straight up dangerous to people or mistreated by tourists and locals. Do you have any bad monkey experiences? Comment below
However the troop of Japanese Macaque Monkeys in Arashiyama are hilariously Japanese: Calm, well-mannered and fond of rice crackers… A snack I found similar to oat cakes in terms of bland taste. Walking among the monkeys is free and for 550 Yen, you can enter a little hut and feed the monkeys. Closes at 4:30pm.
Check out the official website here.
Arashiyama Temples & Shrines Official Websites
- Hogon-In Temple & Garden
- Tenryu-ji Temple & Sogenchi Gardens
- Daikaku-Ji Temple
- Seiryo-ji Temple (Japanese Link)
- Daihikaku Senkoji Temple
- Nonomiya Shrine
For a complete list, check out Inside Kyoto-Arashiyama. I suggest choosing 5 temples & shrines or less for a single day trip. Too many temples starts to become a little repetitive and sometimes it’s better to enjoy less than see more, especially when there is so much local food to sit down and enjoy. By bike, the temples and shrines are not too far apart.
Local Shops & Markets
When you think of small village on the outskirts of Japan’s most historic city, you think of sitting down and eating authentic British Meat Pies right? RIGHT? Or fresh Apple pie? Well good news! You can eat authentic British Pies at Jerry’s Pies.
Or more in the mood for some local street BBQ? Well let me introduce you to ‘squid on a stick’, the quick meal that will easily set your taste buds ablaze!
For food not on a stick, I recommend touring the local streets for Ramen and tea shops. Kyoto has a specialty you won’t find in other cities (or at least not as good), try the Herring Soba (Also called Nishin Sobaー鰊蕎麦). This was by far my favorite meal even after 30 days in Kyoto on my workaway.
Getting to Arashiyama
By Train & Walking (50 mins)
- From Kyoto Station, take the San-In Line
- Stop at Saga-Arashiyama Station (25 mins – 240 Yen)
- Walk 25 minutes South-West to the Riverside
By Direct Bus #28 (52 mins)
- From Kyoto Station, take bus #28 (市営) in the bus loop outside the station
- It goes direct to Arashiyama Park Bus Stop (230 Yen)
- It’s 27 stops or roughly 36 minutes by bus, departing every 30 minutes
- If you are worried about missing your stop as the buses do not always announce the stops in English, tell the bus driver “Arashiyama Kooun” or “Arashiyama Park”.
- Don’t forget to pre-load Google Maps or use offline Maps Me.
By Bike for the fit and ambitious (1h 20 mins)
- From Gion District, find the main street running west-east called ‘Shijo Dori’
- The bridge across the river running North South next to Gion is this main street (there are covered sidewalk along the street)
- Follow Shijo Dori all the way to the western mountains across the ‘Katsura River’ that runs down from Arashiyama.
- Follow the river North West to Arashiyama.
Or, take the main road past the Kyoto Imperial Palace (1h 20 mins)
- The second route is from Heian Shrine, follow this main road (Route 187) west.
- The main road twists up and down a little, but it’s fairly obvious which way to follow along as it’s the largest road with the widest sidewalks.
- The road ends North of Arashiyama as it narrows into a local street at a set of lights
- Take a left at these lights, due South, until you reach the river across from Arashiyama Park.
Over an hour and 20 minutes each way (3 hours total) sounds like a long ride, it is and it isn’t. Leave early, take your time and stop into local shops along the way. The point of a bike tour is to enjoy the scenery, get involved in less touristy areas and experience a more authentic Japan. The best part of biking to Arashiyama is being able to drop your bike off at any of the nearby bike lots and visit many of the Temples. You’ll spend a lot of time on the train in Japan, renting a bike can be a joyful alternative and a novel experience. Journey before Destination
For more information on Japan, check out our posts here.
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