Arashiyama Day Trip: The Best Things To Do
Discover one of Japan’s most iconic sights, Arashiyama, on an exciting day trip from Kyoto. This guide highlights what to do on your Arashiyama day trip, how to get to Arashiyama, and all our top tips to help you make the most of your visit.
Any trip to Japan would not be complete without visiting the beautiful mountain town of Arashiyama. Found on the western outskirts of Kyoto, Arashiyama is home to some of Japan’s most iconic sights – from the famed Bamboo Grove to one of the top 5 temples in all of Kyoto. With spectacular views and gorgeous gardens, it’s easy to see why this area is a National Heritage Site and renowned as a Place of Scenic Beauty.
Arashiyama is an excellent add-on to your day trips from Kyoto list, as well as any Japan itinerary. Whether your only spending a few days in the western region or planning a 2 week Japan itinerary, visiting Arashiyama is highly encouraged.
In a rush? Pin these Arashiyama day trip tips for later.
Also read: The Top Kyoto Sights not to Miss
Arashiyama Day Trip: Best Things to do
The Togetsukyo Bridge was initially built during the Heian Period (794-1185) and is one of the town’s most famous landmarks. It is a symbol of blessing to young Japanese children, and more interestingly, the river changes names on either side of the bridge. On the west of the bridge, the river is called the Hozu River, while it’s called the Katsura River on the east.east.
Apart from taking a gentle stroll over the bridge, it’s also the perfect place to take some photos of the river and mountains as a backdrop. The bridge is only 155m long, so it’s easily walked in a few minutes.
If you are traveling to Arashiyama by bus, the closest stop to the Togetsukyo Bridge is the Arashiyama Park bus stop.
Also read: Japan in Fall – The best places to visit
Any day trip to Arashiyama wouldn’t be complete without exploring the gorgeous natural scenery. And, one of the best ways to do this is by boat. Luckily, there are a few options to choose from, especially if you are visiting Japan on a shoestring.
The first option is to rent a small boat or kayak and paddle along the main Hozugawa river area by yourself. Some local boats provide short boat rides along the river too. Simply go to one of the many stalls that line the river to organise the above.
But, if you want to get a real feel of what the Hozu river has to offer, take a short train trip to the neighboring city of Kameoka. From here you can board a Hozugawa Kudari boat ride. It’s one of the most famous river routes in Japan and dates back to 400 years. For more details on Hozugawa River Cruises, visit their website, here.
This ride between Kameoka and Arashiyama takes about 2 hours, so if you are on a tight schedule, be sure to keep this in mind.
Also read: What to do on a Nara One Day Itinerary
The Bamboo Grove
Arashiyama’s most iconic sight is undoubtedly the Bamboo Grove, often also referred to as the Bamboo Forest. The walking path cuts through swaying bamboo forests and offers countless amazing photo ops.
If you’re traveling Kyoto with kids, the bamboo grove is a great add-on to your Arashiyama day trip itinerary, as there is no entrance fee.
The Bamboo Forest is very popular among locals and tourists alike – especially if you are traveling during peak seasons, like spring or autumn. Therefore, it’s best to time your visit here. To skip the crowds and tour groups, I recommend visiting here either in the early morning or late afternoon.
Tenryuji is the largest temple in Arashiyama and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple was founded in 1339 and is ranked as one of Kyoto’s top 5 Zen temples. And it’s easy to see why. Apart from the impressive temple, the gardens and numerous walking paths are beyond spectacular.
Work on spending at least 2 hours here, as the gardens are sublime. Be sure to also duck into the temple before making your way along the little winding paths through the gardens. If you’d like to take a breather or just admire the natural scenery, there are many resting stops along the way.
Operating hours: 8:30 – 17:30 (Oct – Mar: 8:30 – 17:00)
Entrance fee: ¥500
Getting to Arashiyama
You can easily reach Arashiyama by train or bus from Kyoto Station. But if you are pressed for time, or not comfortable using public transport, you might want to consider taking a half-day trip to Arashiyama.
The fastest way to reach Arashiyama, however, is by train. Take the JR Sagano/ San-in Line to Saga-Arashiyama Station. If you haven’t purchased a JR Pass, prices start at ¥240 (single journey) and the ride takes about 45 minutes from Kyoto. Prices do however differ per train, so be sure to keep an eye out for this.
Alternatively, you could also reach Arashiyama by bus from Kyoto Station. Simply take Kyoto City Bus #28 and get off at the Arashiyama-Tenryuji-mae stop. The bus ride takes about 1 hour and costs ¥230 for a single journey.
Have you visited Arashiyama yet?
What travel tips do you have for fellow travellers planning an Arashiyama day trip? Let us know in the comments below.
Also, head to our Japan section for more insights on top attractions and what not to miss in the Kansai region.
In the meantime, why not connect with us on Instagram or Facebook for instant updates on our travels in Asia? Also, feel free to subscribe to our mailing list to get all the good stuff delivered straight to your inbox.
Did you like these Arashiyama day trip ideas? Maybe your friends will too.
Pin it here.
This post was updated on 5 January 2019.