Arashiyama is a beautiful district on the outskirts of West Kyoto and it is famous for the aesthetically pleasing bamboo forest. Tourists would wake up at sunrise just to get an "empty" shot here. When I visited in April 2019, it was peak traffic with people bumping into me every 2 minutes 😣 Other than this forest, there are a lot of other unique things to explore, making it a great day trip location.
To get to this district, you have to catch a train to Arashiyama station. Once outside, you'll find most of the crowd heading right, then left down a little lane, leading to the bamboo forest. There are heaps of signs up and you'll know you've gone the right way when the town noise gets muffled by the wind.
On this tranquil walk, you'll hear the faint, rustling and swaying of the bamboos. You'll feel a cool breeze along your skin as the plants block out the sun, and the wind has no where to pass but down the little lane you're walking on.
And if you ever get the chance to visit during a snow fall, like we did in 2017, it'll feel like a fairy tale. The bamboos shields the heavy snow and wind, creating this dream-like effect of snow falling. This is one of the most beautiful walks (minus the tourists 🤣) and it should definitely be on everyone's bucket list. If you're up for it, we recommend going in the peak Winter season. The walk feels more peaceful with less people.
After doing a lap or two or a dozen, and taking a hundred photos, you can exit the bamboo forest the same way you entered, and head towards the station. Right behind the station is another "forest" known as the Kimono Forest. This is a beautiful art installation made of 600 back lit pillars adorned with vibrant kimono textiles. They light up at night too. More pics HERE.
As you're walking, you'll see a lot of pulled rickshaws. One ride is ¥8750 for 2 guests for one hour, equivalent to $100 AUD.
There are a few cute bakeries, sweets and snack stores along the way. Stop by for a matcha ice cream or a puff pastry.
If you keep walking straight, you'll cross Togetsu-kyo Bridge, where you can stop to take photos by Katsura river. It was very soothing to hear the rush of water cascading down.
After crossing the river, you'll see a sign on the right for the famous Iwatayama Monkey Park. This is home to 120 Japanese macaques (snow monkeys). It'll cost ¥550 to enter but once inside, visitors have an option to feed the monkeys and get this scenic view of Kyoto. More pics HERE.
Thanks for reading!