Arashiyama is a beautiful town neatly tucked away on the western outskirts of Kyoto. This scenic little town boasts ancient temples, sublime gardens, and peaceful river rides. Follow my compact Arashiyama itinerary to find the best things to do in Arashiyama. Throughout this guide, you’ll also get handy tips to help you plan the perfect Arashiyama day trip.
Any trip to Japan would not be complete without visiting the beautiful mountain town of Arashiyama. It is home to some of Japan’s most iconic sites – 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.
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1 Day Arashiyama Itinerary – Quick Overview
Arashiyama is an excellent add-on to your day trips from Kyoto list, as well as any Japan itinerary. Whether you’re only spending a few days in the western region or planning a two-week Japan itinerary, visiting Arashiyama on a day trip is highly encouraged.
Before we dive right into what to do in Arashiyama, here’s a quick look at what’s covered in this Arashiyama itinerary:
- Cross Togetsukyo Bridge
- Take a boat ride on the Hozu River
- Wander through the Bamboo Grove
- Explore the largest temple, Tenryuji
In a rush? Pin this Arashiyama itinerary for later.
Arashiyama Itinerary: Best Things to do in Arashiyama
There’s so much to do in Japan’s Kansai region – from wandering Kyoto’s streets and visiting Osaka’s top attractions. Beyond the bustling cities, however, there’s plenty to keep you busy too. Arashiyama is one of Japan’s most revered tourist attractions and a huge must on a Japan trip.
In this guide, I’ll cover the best things to do on an Arashiyama day trip. You’ll have a chance to see all of Arashiyama’s best bits in as little as one day! Wander through the famous Bamboo Grove, explore the gorgeous temples, or perhaps even take a relaxing boat ride! Whatever you choose to do, there’s plenty to do on a 1-day Arashiyama itinerary.
Ready to dive into Arashiyama’s top attractions on a 1 day in Arashiyama itinerary? Let’s go!
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. Interestingly, the river’s name differs depending on which side you are – on the west, it’s called the Hozu River, while on the east, the Katsura River.
Besides taking a gentle stroll over the bridge, it’s also the perfect place to take some photos with the river and mountains as a backdrop. The bridge is only 155m long, so it’s easily walked in a few minutes.
Pro Tip: If you are traveling to Arashiyama by bus, the closest stop to the Togetsukyo Bridge is the Arashiyama Park bus stop.
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 visit 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 organize 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.
Pro Tip: 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
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
Arashiyama’s most iconic attraction is undoubtedly the Arashiyama 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.
Pro Tip: The Bamboo Forest is very popular among locals and tourists, 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 admire the natural scenery, there are many resting stops along the way.
Opening hours: 8:30 – 17:30 (Oct – Mar: 8:30 – 17:00)
Entrance fee: ¥500
How to get 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 tour 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 travelers planning an Arashiyama itinerary? Let us know in the comments below.
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