Arashiyama in Kyoto is a different kind of paradise that needs to be seen to be believed when visiting Japan.
It’s Kyoto’s most stunning tourist attraction, and while it may be some distance from any white sandy beach, paradise can be defined in many ways and its case in point when you step foot into Arashiyama for the first time. In terms of scenic beauty, you’ll understand precisely what I mean.
The setting in this famous tourist district involves gorgeous temples amongst picturesque settings, divine gardens that are full of life and colour, breathtaking scenic river views that are a joy while strolling along the banks, and its a unique Japanese township with many iconic houses that fits perfectly into the traditional settings of Arashiyama.
On your visit to Kyoto, you will visit Arashiyama, it’s only a matter of when. It’ the perfect location to take it steady and enjoy the views, take in the sounds and embrace the culture that invites you during your visit to Kyoto.
Arashiyama in Kyoto – A different kind of Paradise
Visit Stunning Temples
Temples are a common theme in Arashiyama, much like they are in the rest of Kyoto, and they come in all shapes and sizes.
There are those temples that are large and leave a strong impression; some are located on the slopes of the mountain and come with picturesque views, then there are those boutique temples that are hidden amongst the shaded forest but still looks beautiful.
Often the best ways to find the temples is to wander through the district and see what you come across through your adventures and allow google maps to show you the way, without getting lost. It will be near impossible to visit every temple, there are too many, and there is usually an entrance fee to most temples with the cost going from 300-yen.
You can also elect to participate in half-day tours with Klook, to see the best Arashiyama temple.
Let’s look at a selection of the temples in the district.
The Tenryu-Ji Temple Arashiyama was built in the year 1339 by the ruling leader Ashikaga Takauji and is one of the most famous temples in Arashiyama, if not Kyoto. From the entrance gates, it commences with a beautiful garden walk until you arrive at the significant temple area, where you can wander inside and take a closer look at history. On the outside of the main temple, there is a gorgeous view of the lake, with the forest blended in with the surrounding mountains.
Jojakkoji Temple Kyoto is another beautiful temple that nestled within the forest and is on the slope of Mount Kokura and lots of greenery surrounding the temple. Upon entering the gates of the Jojakkoji, it requires a small workout up the staircase to the view buildings that are waiting for you at the top. Further, you can ascend onto a dirt track around the back of the main buildings, until you go as far up as you can, and capture even better views of the temple below and city of Kyoto.
If you love a temple with seclusion, peace and tranquillity, then you’ll love to wander around the Gioji Temple Kyoto. It’s not a large temple by any imagination, but it’s hidden away amongst much greenery and trees of the forest and looks magnificent in the darkness of the day. It all adds to the magic of Arashiyama.
Check out more fabulous pictures of the temples in Arashiyama Kyoto
Wander down the Bamboo Forest Grove
The famous Bamboo Grove often comes to mind when visiting Arashiyama in Kyoto, with the stunning rows of Bamboo trees that are lined up through the Bamboo path, with the sun trying to peek through and it looks spectacular. The main path that runs through the middle of the surrounding bamboo trees is packed with many tourists and if you venture to the area during the peak seasons of Autumn or Spring, you’ll only get more company.
The Bamboo forest walk is one of the few attractions which doesn’t require an entry fee and is often the first point of call off the train station, before spreading your wings and visiting further Arashiyama attractions. Early morning is the best time to arrive to avoid peak crowds and to attempt to capture a perfect photo with no one else in the shot of the Bamboo Grove, otherwise, that perfect shot is hard to come by.
Nonetheless, It won’t take away the beauty of the area and if you are looking for the ultimate Arashiyama tour, look no further than Klook to take you there at affordable prices.
Get lost inside Okochi Sanso Garden
The Okochi Sanso garden was built and designed by a Japanese actor, Okochi Denjiro, throughout the 1930-40s and opened to the public after the actor’s death in 1962. It’s one of the picturesque attractions in Arashiyama or Kyoto for that matter and is worth every bit of the 1000-yen entrance fee to enter the gardens.
Okochi Sanso Garden sits on the slopes of Mt Ogura and provides brilliant views into Kyoto from several observation points. The views only get even better as ascend uphill and begin wandering past various Japanese buildings on your walk through Okochi Sanso Villa.
Inside the gardens, there are many different buildings, Japanese style houses and a shrine located within the attraction, but nothing will beat gorgeous walk amongst nature that will take approximately an hour of your time, or even longer if wish to soak all in, as you well and truly should.
Included in the entrance fee, you receive a complimentary Match tea and sweet, that is available to you at the tea house located at the entry/exit of the gardens, where you are served you delicious treat inside a Japanese designed building that is delightfully landscaped on the outside.
Be sure to check out Okochi Sanso Garden on your visit to Arashiyama.
View the Hidden Backstreets of the Arashiyama District
Arashiyama is not only about mesmerising attractions or hidden temples, but it’s also mandatory to have a walk along the backroads and view the unique township that is lined with Japanese buildings and houses, creating a fantastic cultural experience. Heck, you might even want a rickshaw ride throughout the backstreets of the district.
It’s a great opportunity to get away from nature and view various souvenirs, fine art, jewellery and to stop in for local tea, coffee or a bite to eat at a selection of café’s, tea houses in the area. It’s a long way from your modern-day Starbucks, but that is a good thing, right?.
Visit the Iwatayama Monkey Park Kyoto
Who knew that paying to see a few monkeys would begin with a survival of the fittest and that is exactly what you get upon entering the gates of the Iwatayama Monkey Park Kyoto. It begins with a 20-minute hike up a hill and that is a real strain on the legs upon your ascent. However, it’s a nice walk through the forest until reaching the monkeys at the highest point of the hill.
At the height of the peak where there are many monkeys running around and putting on a show, it’s a great chance to capture the best vantage points of all Kyoto Japan and take a few great photos of the magnificent city from high above, with the possibility of an Arashiyama monkey sneaking into the frame.
Divulge yourself at the bustling Town Centre
Coffee, antiques, green tea ice-cream, it’s all happening on the streets of Arashiyama and the bustling town centre, where the tranquil of the surrounding area escapes at this point, and the centre of Arashiyama certainly comes alive at this point.
It’s the ideal time to get amongst the atmosphere of the Kyoto district and wander through the streets with a few locals out and about in their kimono dress. It may be at this time when you decide to have a bite to eat inside their restaurants and purchase yourself a little souvenir for your time spent in Arashiyama, because you’ll want to keep memories of this place.
The Katsura River continues the scenic beauty that is enriched inside Arashiyama in Kyoto. The slow cruise boats get a good work out in the open wide river spaces that are tucked away below the mountains and adds to the ever-spoilt scenic views that are on show inside the region.
Depending on what location you get your first sight of the river, whether it’s from the town centre, the Arishiyama Park or elsewhere in the region. Be sure to take a trek along the banks of the river and enjoy a brisk walk, while capturing the sights, the sounds and beauty of Katsura River. It’s also the spot to dine at a riverside restaurant with million-dollar views and enjoy a bowl of ramen for lunch.
Stay a little longer in an Arashiyama Hotel
A day is not always long enough at Arashiyama in Kyoto, and life is not meant to be hurried, especially in a place as beautiful and picturesque as this. There is a selection of hotels available at different prices. Therefore you can take your time to explore knowing a hotel is nearby.
Visit Arashiyama at least one in your life
To add Arashiyama to your bucket list when travelling into Japan is non-negotiable, it’s a place that needs to be visited at least once in your life and after that, you may want to come back for more.
Long after you leave, the memories of your time at Arashiyama will stick with you for years to come, from the temples to Japanese style housing, to the bamboo forest and the picturesque mountains. There is so much to get excited about upon your visit to this top tourist attraction, and I can only hope that this guide can get you halfway there.
Author’s notes: I visited Arashiyama in the summer months of Japan, the best time to visit the Kyoto region is through the cherry blossom months in March and April, where I am told it gets even better. Although if that doesn’t work, any other time will suffice.