Arashiyama Day Trip: The Best Things To Do
Discover the best things to do on your Arashiyama day trip here in this guide. Plus awesome travel tips that will help you make the most of your day trip.
Any trip to Kyoto would not be complete without a visit to 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.
In a rush? Pin these Arashiyama day trip tips for later.
Also read: The Top Kyoto Sights not to Miss
Arashiyama Day Trip Tips and Must-do’s
The Togetsukyo Bridge was originally built during the Heian Period (794-1185) and is one of the town’s most important 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, whilst it’s called the Katsura River on the east.
Apart from taking a leisurely 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 coming to Arashiyama by bus, hop off at 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. There are also some local boats that
Simply go to one of the many stalls that line the river to organise the above.
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 factor in the time.
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 winding little paths through the gardens. If you’d like to take a breather or simply 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.
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This post was updated on 5 January 2019.