Travel Around Amazing Arashiyama: Best Scenic Place in Kyoto
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Arashiyama and its central landmark Togetsukyo Bridge have been known for its seasonal scenic beauty since ancient times. Villas of court nobles were spotted in this area during the Heian period (794-1192), when Kyoto was the capital of Japan. Therefore, Arashiyama retains temples designated as World Heritage Sites, elegant gardens favored by court nobles, and well-designed streets. It is one of the most popular destinations in Kyoto. The best-known Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai depicted the scenery of Togetsukyo Bridge in his woodblock prints.
Togetsukyo Bridge spanning Katsura River was built between 834 and 848. It is one of the oldest bridges in Japan. The bridge was repeatedly damaged by disasters. The present one was completed in 1934. As court nobles appreciated the scenic beauty from their pleasure boats around 800, scenic boat tours are still very popular among tourists in Arashiyama.
(Source：安ちゃん / PIXTA)
Togetsukyo Bridge spanning Katsura River is surrounded by mountains. The best time to see autumn leaves is between the end of November and early December. You can enjoy colorful autumn foliage like a patchwork quilt painting, which is a distinctive feature of Arashiyama.
1. Enjoy scenic beauty of Arashiyama and Togetsukyo Bridge
Togetsukyo Bridge is a must-see place in Arashiyama! Needless to say, autumn is the best season to visit but also….
Snow in Winter
Cherry Blossoms in Spring
You can enjoy splendid views of verdure all summer. The girder bridge completed in 1934 also offers incredible views!
After enjoying the scenic beauty of Togetsukyo Bridge, let’s take a walk around Nakanoshima area located across the bridge in Arashiyama Park. A rickshaw travel is also recommended as a Kyoto-style attraction. There is an old saying about Togetsukyo Bridge: “You can’t look behind until you cross the bridge.”
2. Enjoy the scenic beauty of Arashiyama from a boat
Katsura River changes its name as it passes under Togetsukyo Bridge: the upstream from the bridge is called Hozu and the downstream is Oigawa. Tour boats float down the river from Katsura to Oigawa. You can take a 30-minute course or an hour course with lunch. Please inquire for details of the courses. You can enjoy magnificent scenery just like court nobles enjoyed it from their pleasure boats in the past.
Arashiyama Tsusen Co., Ltd.
◆North side boat station
Sagatenryuji susukinobaba-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
◆South side boat station
Arashiyama nakaoshita-cho, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Time required: depending on the course
Closed: December 31 and January 1
3. Tenryuji Temple: World Heritage Site
Tenryuji Temple, registered as a World Heritage Site, is located between Togetsukyo Bridge and a Bamboo Grove. Its Japanese garden was designated as a National Scenic Beauty. It was designed based on a detailed plan so that guests are allowed to appreciate Kameoka’s scenery, setting against a backdrop of Arashiyama. This type of garden is called “Shakkei (borrowed scenery)”, in which nearby mountains are used to give the garden a sense of added depth.
4. Bamboo Grove
Many visitors say “This is it! I have always wanted to see this amazing scenery.” The path full of long and straight lush green bamboo trees stretches about 400-meter long. This is the best spot to avoid summer heat in Kyoto.
About 2,500 lanterns are lit up along the Bamboo Grove from the second Friday to the third Sunday of December (17:00 to 20:30) every year. It’s amazing! These lanterns will take you to a fantasy world.
5. Jojakkoji Temple
Jojakkoji Temple is known for its beautiful moss garden. It is located on a hill, commanding a spectacular view of Kyoto city against a backdrop of the two-story Taho-to pagoda.
Address: 3 Saga-Ogurayama-Ogura-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Opening hours: 9:00-17:00 (Last entry at 16:30)
6. Yuzen Pillars Light-up
Gorgeous cylinder-shaped pillars covered with kimono fabrics dyed in Kyo-Yuzen style are lit up in Hannari Hokkori Square at Arashiyama Station. You will be impressed by the aesthetic atmosphere when walking through the kimono pillar lane. This is definitely a Kyoto-style scenic place.
It is nice to see these pillars from the train on your way to Kyoto. If you want to go to Kyoto Station, you’d better take a train from JR Saga Arashiyama Station, because Randen trams do not go to Kyoto Station from Randen Arashiyama Station.
Arashiyama Station Hannari Hokkori Square
Address: 20-2 Tsukurimichi-cho, Tenryuji Saga, Ukyo-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Matcha (green tea) & Japanese confectionery
You must try Japanese traditional sweets and drinks in Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan. Many tourists love matcha (green tea) chocolate due to its sweetness. However, authentic matcha tea is creamy but tastes bitter! The tradition of drinking matcha with beautiful confectionery reflecting seasonal themes has passed down since ancient times in Japan. Have a Japanese-style tea at the café next to the long-established confectionery shop (since 1908) Oimatsu in Arashiyama.
Oimatsh Arashiyama Shop
Address: 20 Sagatenryuji Susukinobaba-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Opening hours: 9:30-16:00 (9:30-16:00 on Tuesdays)
Shojin Ryori (Buddhist vegetarian cuisine) is one of the specialties in Kyoto, which holds many temples. Since you visit a World Heritage Site Tenryuji Temple, mind as well have Shojin Ryori there. You have to pay an admission fee for 500 yen, so you can visit the temple first and then enjoy its traditional Shojin Ryori.
Address: 68 Susukinobaba-machi, Saga Tenryu-ji, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Opening hours: 11:00-14:00 (Last order)
Hoshinoya is one of the best luxury ryokan (Japanese-style inns), located along Katsura River in Arashiyama. You can only access there by boat from Hoshinoya’s private pier at Togetsukyo Kobashi. You can enjoy its private environment and great hospitality as well as natural beauty of Arashiyama. You can enhance your appreciation of scenic beauty of Arashiyama, which was beloved by court nobles, when you stay in such a special inn.
Address:11-2 Arashiyama Genrokuzan-cho, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Kyoto Arashiyama Onsen Kadensho
Kadensho is a unique inn that provides a traditional Japanese ambiance while at the same time providing modern comforts. The inn only offers western-style guest rooms but each room has authentic traditional Japanese décor. You can also enjoy onsen (hot spring) there.
Kyoto Arashiyama Onsen Kadensho
Address: 5-4 Arashiyama Nishiichikawa-cho, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Mifune Matsuri Festival
Aristocratic culture flourished in Kyoto in Heian period (794-1192). Mifune Matsuri Festival restored the court noble’s tradition of pleasure boats hosted by Emperor Shirakawa in the past. The festival will revive a gorgeous traditional atmosphere in Katsura River!
Date: the third Sunday of May every year
Location: Oigawa River (upstream from Togetsukyo Bridge in Katsura River)
Tel: +81-75-861-0039 (Mifune Preservation Association)
You cannot miss a trip to Hozukyo when you visit Arashiyama! You can travel there either by boat or by trolley tram. Enjoy its magnificent views!
You can enjoy splendid views of Hozukyo from an open-air trolley tram.
Sagano Scenic Raiway Co., Ltd
Address: Sagatenryuji Kurumamichi-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
You take a trolley tram to the terminal station Kameoka, take a bus for 25 minutes (310 yen), and take a boat for two hours, viewing its fantastic scenery along the river.
You can enjoy watching the excellent paddle performance of skilled boatmen when the boat passes through rocks in the river. These boatmen can take you to the pier of Arashiyama safely.
Hozugawa Yusen Sightseeing Boat Association
Address: 2 Shimonnakajima, Hozu-cho, Kameoka-shi, Kyoto(京都府亀岡市保津町下中島2)
From JR Kyoto Station, take Sanin Main Line to Saga Arashiyama Station.
Please ensure you check the online timetable. The schedule changes each year due to events or weather.
Kyoto City Tourism Association
Address: Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Time required: half day
IKIDANE NIPPON Editor Senior Travel Writers