If you are staying in Osaka or Kyoto, then you should definitely plan a day trip to Arashiyama. Strolling through the bamboo forest, hiking in the mountains, or visiting the many temples, you will definitely be enchanted by Arashiyama’s rich history and natural beauty.
How to get there: We took the train from Hankyu Umeda Station in Osaka to Katsura (Kyoto Line) where we had to transfer to another train that would bring us to Arashiyama (Arashiyama Line). This 50-minute ride cost us ¥800 (¥400 a person). In the evening, we took the train at the Saga-Arashiyama train station to Kyoto.
Here are 6 top things to do in Arashiyama.
Iwatayama Monkey Park
The Iwatayama Monkey Park is located in the Arashiyama Mountains and just south of the iconic Togetsukyo bridge. After a 15 minute hike up the mountain, you’ll arrive at an open area or playground where over a hundred macaque monkeys live freely. Not only the monkeys are photogenic, but also the view over the city is worth some pictures.
Sagano Bamboo Forest
We left the cute monkeys behind, crossed the river and headed to Arashiyama’s most famous landmark, the Sagano Bamboo Grove. This 500m mesmerizing bamboo path definitely makes for a nice walk and a bunch of pictures.
Next to the Sagano Bamboo Grove is the impressive Tenryu-ji Temple, a UNESCO Word heritage site and one of Kyoto’s five great Zen temples, the so-called Five Mountains. If you’re lucky enough to be there during the cherry blossom season, the gardens get even more beautiful.
Saga-Toriimoto Preserved Street
From the Tenryu-ji Temple, take the Saga-Toriimoto Preserved Street up to Adashino Nenbutsuji. In this narrow street that has been preserved in the style of the Meiji Period, you’ll see a lot of traditional machiya (town houses). This street was basically empty compared to the other places in Arashiyama and was definitely worth our walk up to Adashino Nenbutsuji.
Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple
At the end of the Saga-Toriimoto Preserved Street is this 9th century Buddhist temple. The temple is surrounded by some eight thousand Buddhist statues that were places there for the souls of the dead. Behind the temple is a short path that leads through a bamboo forest.
Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple
Located a ten minute walk from Adashino Nenbutsuji is Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple, a Buddhist temple famous for the 1200 rakan statues that surround it. These sculptures, completely covered in moss, each have a different facial expression. Just like the Adashino Nenbutsuji, this serene site is far less crowded than the other places in Arashiyama.