Arashiyama bamboo forest, Kyoto

The touristy but fascinating rural town of Arashiyama near Kyoto has a stunning bamboo forest and other attractions

Authored by James, 22nd June 2017

A quick train ride from central Kyoto, a visit to the Arashiyama bamboo forest won't get you away from the tourists, but it's a great place for a change of scenery in the country.

Arashiyama is a district of Kyoto, north west of the city centre and only 15 minutes by train. It's where the conurbation of Kyoto ends and meets the natural landscape of wooded mountains beyond, bounded by the Katsura river.

We took a trip out here one morning while staying in Kyoto. We enjoyed walking round and seeing the various sites, had a picnic in the park - and were back in Kyoto early afternoon in time to visit Kyoto's Nijō Castle and other places, so it's a great place for a busy itinerary of sights around Kyoto.

Arashiyama is famous for a few things:

The Togetsukyō bridge

(渡月橋, Moon Crossing Bridge) - a long, low wooden bridge which spans the wide river, and offers great views of the river itself, the mountains and the town. At the southern end of the bridge is Nakanoshima park which is a great place for seeing cherry blossom in Arashiyama.

The Arashiyama bamboo forest

This is the iconic image of Arashiyama - a huge area of dense bamboo groves with good paths. Pictures of this bamboo forest crop up all over the internet, and for good reason - it's spectacular. The huge bamboo trees rise up in beautiful parallel lines and draw the eye up to their leafy green canopies.

It's more peaceful here, the trees make it feel cooler and quieter and if you're lucky enough to be there when it's not busy it can be a calming tranquil place.

Also in the Arashiyama bamboo forest is the Nonomiya Shrine which is a place for honeymooners to visit, as it hosts the deity Nonomiya Daikokuten - the protector of marriage.

It's a lovely area for a stroll, and is a good route back to the Saga-Arashiyama train station. In fact you can cross over the railway line on a level crossing which is always exciting (if you like that kind of thing).

Temples, temples, temples

- lots of temples, including the Unesco heritage site of Tenryū-ji, which is right between Arashiyama park and the bamboo forest.
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest near Kyoto - a wonderful place for a stroll

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest near Kyoto - a wonderful place for a stroll

Itinerary

Take the train to Saga-Arashiyama (more below) then walk south and west until you reach the street leading to the Togetsukyo Bridge. There's plenty of food options here, including combini for takeaway picnic items.

Cross the bridge to the Nakanoshima Park, taking pictures as you go. (This is a good place for a lunch picnic). Then come back over the bridge to the north shore.

Follow the river west for quarter of a mile, you'll find Arashiyama park, which you can wander through (again a good picnic spot). The park has paths leading to the Tenryū-ji Temple and the bamboo forest.

Follow the paths through the Arashiyama bamboo forest, heading for the Nonomiya Shrine.

From the shrine, head north, crossing the railway until you reach the edge of the forest. Then you can follow the road east until you reach the Saga-Arashiyama train station and return to Kyoto.

A sketch map of Arashiyama with our recommended route to the Arashiyama bamboo forest

A sketch map of Arashiyama with our recommended route to the Arashiyama bamboo forest

How to get to Arashiyama and the bamboo forest

Take the JR line from Kyoto station to Saga-Arashiyama, which takes about 15 minutes. From the station you walk south and west to reach the touristy street leading to the Moon Crossing Bridge.