The Arashiyama bamboo grove, the most famous bamboo forest in Japan, is located along the Katsura River in western Kyoto. It is also known as the Sagano bamboo grove. Besides being a popular tourist destination, it is also a beloved photo spot, and visitors flock to experience its scenic beauty.
On a day trip, it is obvious to combine a visit to the famous bamboo grove with other nearby attractions in and around the quaint village of Arashiyama, such as the monkey park on the mountainside, river trips on the Katsura River, the Kimono Forest at Randen Arashiyama Station, and, not least, the historic Tenryu-ji Temple. All sights are within easy reach of the two train stations at Arashiyama.
From Kyoto, you can take either the Hankyu-Kyoto Line to Randen Arashiyama Station or the JR San-In Line to Saga-Arashiyama Station (the JR Pass is valid on this line).
Before reaching the famous Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, another particular forest in this part of Kyoto also attracts attention. Right next to and integrated with the terminal Randen Arashiyama Station, a unique Kimono Forest appears out of the blue. It is an unusual art installation created in 2013 by the artist Yasumichi Morita.
With its 600 colourful 2-metre-high pillars showcasing beautiful Japanese kimono fabrics, it is a spectacular sight, a forest of kimonos surrounding the station. All fabrics are handcrafted and represent 32 fashionable designs (produced by the textile factory Kamedatomi and dyed in the traditional Kyo-yuzen style) of kimonos worn by Japanese women. The pillars are illuminated at night. Finally, at the end of the kimono path is the Dragon Pond (Atago-ike).
Randen Arashiyama Station is an attraction in itself, with restaurants, souvenir shops, and a unique foot bath right next to the tracks!
Before entering the spectacular Arashiyama bamboo grove, a hike up the mountain on the other side of the Katsura River will take you to Iwatayama Monkey Park, where snow monkeys thrive in their natural environment. Cross the river by the famed wooden Togetsukyo Bridge, providing panoramic views of the river and mountainous landscape. On the other side, you will find the park entrance and a long staircase leading up to the monkeys.
Mount Iwatayama has, for many years, been a natural habitat for Japanese macaques, also known as snow monkeys. Over time, people’s feeding of them has transformed their forest into a sanctuary where they can enjoy their freedom without restrictions but still benefit from being fed and sheltered. An estimate is that over 100 Japanese macaques live in the mountain park.
From the monkey park, visitors can enjoy scenic views of Kyoto and the surrounding mountains.
After getting down again, head into Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, the fascinating and unique bamboo forest in Kyoto, located along the Katsura River. Arashiyama and its gigantic bamboo trees gently swaying in the wind is, undoubtedly, the most famous bamboo grove in Japan. In spring, pink cherry blossom trees add to the area’s beauty.
Visitors get up close to the lush bamboo trees in Arashiyama, taking the path through the forest, which, in the tourist season, can be a bit crowded, though! Nevertheless, Arashiyama is a part of Kyoto where you can get a bit of respite from the bustling city and enjoy centuries of history by visiting the historic tea houses, temples, and shrines. The area has been inhabited since the early 700s.
The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is, really, one of the most iconic attractions in Kyoto, and a walk through the forest is definitely not to be missed!
A 5-minute walk from the bamboo grove, another famous sight in western Kyoto, Tenryuji Temple (also Tenryu-ji), is located. Tenryuji Temple is the Rinzai sect head temple and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, ranking highest among the Zen temples in Kyoto. It is a culturally significant temple with important history.
The Zen Buddhist temple was constructed in 1339 within the Rinzai Zen school by the shogun Ashikaga Takauji and officially consecrated in 1345. The temple was established in memory of Emperor Go-Daigo (1288-1339). Over the years, many of the temple buildings were lost in wars and fires, the latest occurring in 1864. Buildings were reconstructed in the Meiji Period (1868-1912).
Tenryuji Temple has a beautiful Zen garden, a top-rated temple garden in Kyoto, varying in colour palette depending on the season. Contrary to the buildings, the garden design is still the original layout, designed by Muso Soseki, a former head priest of Tenryuji Temple.
Read more about Tokyo in our Tokyo Travel Guide.
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Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Kyoto Forest Monkeys & Tenryuji Temple
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Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Kyoto Forest Monkeys & Tenryuji Temple:
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