Arashiyama Day Trip: The Best Things To Do
Any trip to Kyoto, or Japan as a matter of fact, would not be complete without a visit to the beautiful mountain town of Arashiyama. This guide highlights the best spots to visit on your Arashiyama day trip, as well as provides tips and tricks to help you plan the perfect Arashiyama day trip.
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.
Join us on a photo journey through the most amazing spots on an Arashiyama day trip, below.
Discover the best things to do on your Arashiyama day trip from Kyoto here in this guide. Plus awesome travel tips that will help you make the most of your day trip.
In a rush? Pin these Arashiyama day trip tips for later.
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 and on the east it is known as the Katsura River.
Apart from its rich history and iconic status, crossing the bridge is a must on your Arashiyama day trip. Enjoy a leisurely stroll across the wooden bridge whilst taking in the beautiful surrounding landscapes.
If you are coming to Arashiyama by bus, hop off at the Arashiyama Park bus stop. From here it is only a few minutes walk. In addition, the bridge is only 155m in length, so it’s easily walked in a couple of minutes. Unless of course you are like me and like to enjoy the scenery and stop for photo ops.
A 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 which provide short boat rides along the river.
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 neighbouring 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 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.
The Bamboo Grove
Arashiyama’s most iconic sight is without a doubt the Bamboo Grove. Or more commonly known as the Bamboo Forest. Follow the walking paths that cut through the swaying bamboo forest for some amazing photo ops.
One of the perks about visiting the Bamboo Grove is that there is no entrance fee. So there’s really no reason not to add it to your Arashiyama day trip itinerary.
The Bamboo Forest is very popular among locals and tourists alike. Especially if you are doing an Arashiyama day trip during a peak season, 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. Founded in 1339, Tenryuji 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.
You could easily spend 2 hours here, walking along the winding little paths, admiring the temple and let’s not forget the sublime gardens. There are loads of little resting stops along the way, so reminder to enjoy the scenery!
Operating hours: 8:30 – 17:30 (Oct – Mar: 8:30 – 17:00)
Entrance fee: ¥500
You can reach Arashiyama easily by train or bus from Kyoto Station. If you have already purchased a JR Pass, you might want to consider traveling by train.
The train ride from Kyoto takes roughly 45 minutes and prices start at ¥240 per single journey, depending on which train you take. Take the JR Sagano/San-in Line to Saga-Arashiyama Station.
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 ever been to Arashiyama? What tips or ideas do you have for 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.