Arashiyama is situated in western Kyoto, situated along the Katsura River – and is ecognized nationally as a historic site and known worldwide as a tranquil and serene place of beauty. Arashiyama is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Kyoto, many who have come to see the natural beauty in the surrounding bamboo forest, or the many temples found in the historic district, including the Tenryu-ji temple, one of 14 World Heritage Sites found within Kyoto. Arashiyama is a must-visit in Kyoto.
History of Arashiyama
The area of Arashiyama dates back to the Heian period and it is thanks to the Emperor Go-Saga that there are many cherry blossoms in the area, as when he retired he moved cherry blossoms from Mount Yoshino in Nara to Arashiyama. Due to the natural beauty and beautiful flora in the area, Arashiyama has been a popular destination since the Heian Period (794-1185) and continues to draw both tourists and locals to visit the cherry blossoms and autumn colors.
What to do in Arashiyama
An iconic symbol, the Togetsukyo Bridge, one of the first sights seen upon entering the area, crossing Katsuragawa River and offering a special view. The bridge provides visitors with a vantage point of Mount Arashi in the background and the Katsura River, and depending on the season this is one of the best places to admire cherry blossoms in the spring, and bright autumn hues in the fall. From the bridge, visitors can also enjoy watching paddleboats along the water. The Togetsuykyo Bridge is also sometimes referred to as the Moon Crossing Bridge which comes from the 14th century when Emperor Kameyama commented on the way the moon moves across the bridge at night.
Bamboo Grove (Path of Bamboo)
One of the most photographed places in all of Arashiyama, it is clear to see why. The striking Bamboo Grove is even more spectacular in real life surpassing the beauty of photographs taken, and definitely worth visiting. To enter to the path, enter from the main street in Arashiyama and can be enjoyed along with a visit to the Tenryu-ji Temple. The path is unlike any other forest experience and leads uphill towards the Okochi-Sanso Villa.
Arashiyama Monkey Park
A steep walk up to the park, but worth it once inside the area on Mount Arashiyama, overlooking the Oi River. The commercial park space houses some 170 Japanese macaque monkeys who inhabit the area. The monkeys are wild but can be fed with designated food which is bought in the park. The monkeys are friendly and welcoming, and this is a great way to see them in their natural habitat.
Built in 1339 by Ashikaga Takauji, the ruling Shogun of the time, the Tenryu-Ji Temple is today regarded as the most important temple in Arashiyama and established as a World Heritage Site. The temple has spiritual energy and is the head temple of Rinzai Zen, a specific faith of Japanese Buddhism. Space is tranquil and serene and invites calm meditation and contemplation.
Situated halfway up Mount Arashiyama, the Senko-ji Temple offers one of the rarest views of Kyoto. The temple can be accessed on foot by walking over the Togetsukyo Bridge and walking some twenty minutes up stone steps. Although the location is not as easily accessed as other temples, the view is worth the journey to get there. A perfect way to escape the city and feel remote in nature and surrounded by tranquility, the Senko-ji Temple is a must-see in Kyoto.
How to get to Arashiyama
To get to Arashiyama the quickest and most easily accessible route is via JR from Kyoto Station to Arashiyama. On the JR Sagano line there is a one-way route that travels to Saga-Arashiyama Station, and from the station, it is about 5-10 minutes of walking. Joining a tour of Arashiyama from Kyoto is another way to visit.