Arashiyama a district that has been receiving visitors for over 1000 years. It is located on the western suburbs of Kyoto and includes the mountains beyond the Oi river.
Arashiyama is a nationally designated historical site due to its scenic beauty. During the Heian period, the nobles would camp at Arashiyama during the autumn season and cherry blossom to stroll along the river banks and have outdoor tea parties.
You can take a local train at Kyoto to get to Arashiyama. It takes 10 to 15 minutes to arrive in this beautiful district by train. Here are some exciting things to do in Arashiyama:
1. Bamboo forest
The Sagano bamboo forest should be your first destination when you arrive in Arashiyama. It is probably the town’s biggest claim to fame and the most photographed site in the Kyoto region.
The forest has small windy paths that are flanked by tall bamboo trees on either side. This creates a magical atmosphere that is peaceful and inspiring. You will wish to stay here forever!
The best time to visit the forest either early morning or late in the evening during weekdays because you will find fewer visitors.
2. Adashino Nembutsu-Ji Temple
The Nembutsu-Ji temple was founded in the 9th century by a monk known as Kobo Daishi. He placed stone statues in memory of those who died without having relatives. Today the temple contains over 8,000 stone statues. At the back of the temple is a path leading into another bamboo grove.
On the evenings of 23 and 24 August, a ceremony is held to remember these departed souls.
3. Saga Torrimoto Street
This street is located just before entering the Adashino Nembutsu-Ji Temple. It was designed and built in the style of the Meiji period. There are traditional townhouses known as Machiya along this street that have been converted into shops and restaurants. These restaurants prepare exotic cuisines such as the yudofu.
4. Gio-Ji temple
This temple is famous for its moss garden that is consistently and carefully tended to keep weeds off. On a normal day at Gio-Ji temple, you will find nuns and monks busy in the gardens. The temple has a small main hall with thatched roofs and a round window through which you can view the garden.
5. Tenryu-Ji Temple
This temple was founded in 1339 and served as the main temple of the Rinzai school of Buddhism. The gardens are the hallmark of this temple. The Sogen pond has an inspiring appearance with the green algae at its bottom. The Temple also has Cherry trees that attract big crowds during the cherry blossom season.
6. Take a Rickshaw ride
Have you ever traveled on a Japanese rickshaw? Then coming to Arashiyama may allow you to ride on one. Fit young men pull the rickshaws along the narrow streets of the Arashiyama as you view the picturesque environment. Most countries have banned the rickshaws in favor of motor vehicles because it is seen as a form of strenuous labor.
7. Jojakko-Ji temple
This temple is set on the mountainside, giving you a scenic view of the Kyoto region. It was founded in 1596. Its steep stairs lead up through the hillside to the Niomon gate. From the mountain top, you can see the beautiful maple trees within the Arashiyama region.
8. Yudofu For lunch
If you are looking for a place to eat traditional Japanese foods, then Arashiyama is the place to visit. This district has restaurants offering exotic dishes such as yudofu which tofu cooked in water. You get this delicious meal along the Saga-Torimoto street.
9. Oigawa river and Nakanoshima Park
There is across the Oigawa river, which presents a perfect point to take pictures. Nakanoshima Park has beautiful cherry trees even though you may not arrive at the perfect time for cherry blossoms.
10. Dress the part
If you love the Japanese type of dress, then you wear the kimono and take photos along the bridges and streets of Arashiyama.
Arashiyama has beautiful temples through which you can learn the rich tradition and culture of the Japanese people. You can also eat the exotic yudofu dish which has a delicious taste. The bamboo forest will inspire you to preserve nature!