Arashiyama is a beautiful district on the western outskirts of Kyoto. Although it is technically a part of Kyoto, I somehow feel that it deserves its own post. As one of the more popular districts, Arashiyama is known for its beautiful bamboo grove, numerous shrines and temples, a colourful river gorge, cherry blossoms, and a monkey park.
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
Probably the most scenic, and most photographed location in Arashiyama – the Bamboo Grove consists of a path that cuts across a mini-forest of bamboos. The path is extremely picturesque with bamboos as far as the eye can see. As bamboos grow more in height than width, they prevent most of the sunlight from hitting the ground but light is still visible at the top. That may not have made too much sense, but if you look at the pictures you’ll see what I’m talking about.
There are numerous shrines within the confines of the bamboo grove. Although our agenda was to appreciate the natural beauty of Arashiyama, but we did end up seeing a few shrines and temples from the outside, such as the Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple.
The Kameyama-kōen Park
As we exited the bamboo grove, we began walking towards the Katsura River. Surprisingly, we were among few as the vast majority walked in the other direction towards the shrines. We’re glad we walked away from the crowds or else we wouldn’t have stumbled upon the Kameyama-kōen park. This hilltop park was so peaceful and beautiful that it wasn’t a surprise that we saw numerous people enjoying a picnic or just relaxing.
The Katsura River
Once we exited the Kameyama-kōen park, we finally reached the Hozu River gorge. Although the gorge is suppose to be more colourful in the fall, it looked even more spectacular to me in the spring. The Hozu river begins in the mountains near Kameoka, a town northwest of Kyoto, and changes its name to the Katsura River as it enters Arashiyama.
There are numerous tour boats and self-paddle boats that one can rent to explore the river and its surrounding beauty. However, I decided to take another route to enjoy the natural beauty…from up in the air!
Finally, we grabbed lunch and coffee (both establishments had stunning views of the colourful hills), and decided to skip the monkey park, which was across the Togetsukyo Bridge, and head back to Kyoto.
A Must Visit From Kyoto
I’d highly recommend visiting Arashiyama. It’s close enough to be part of Kyoto, but definitely did not feel like it when we were walking in the bamboo grove, or along the river. Arashiyama is peaceful, colourful, and unique in many ways. Though I have to admit that the river and the colourful hills reminded me of Arrowtown in New Zealand.