The Perfect Arashiyama Itinerary in Kyoto
by Coco Tran On September 19, 2023
The Perfect Arashiyama Itinerary in Kyoto
Discover the serenity and beauty of Arashiyama, Kyoto’s most charming district, with this comprehensive one day itinerary. From the iconic bamboo groves to historic shrines and temples, this guide has everything you need to plan the ideal Arashiyama trip.
Highlights of Visiting Arashiyama:
Arashiyama, located on the outskirts of Kyoto, feels a world away from the crowded streets of the city center. Known for its peaceful bamboo groves, pristine shrines and temples, and picturesque mountain views, Arashiyama is one of Kyoto’s top sightseeing destinations.
With its vast expanse and wealth of attractions, planning the perfect Arashiyama itinerary can be overwhelming for first-time visitors. This comprehensive guide provides everything you need to maximize your time in this charming district of Kyoto.
- Stroll through the famous bamboo groves and be enveloped by the towering green stalks.
- Feed the friendly monkeys at Iwatayama Monkey Park.
- Marvel at historic shrines and temples like Tenryu-ji and Daikaku-ji.
- Wander the preserved streets of rural Sagano.
- Take in panoramic views of Arashiyama from scenic lookout points.
- Cruise down the Hozu River for a unique perspective.
- Sample delicious soba noodles, a local specialty.
how to get to Arashiyama from Kyoto Getting to Arashiyama from Kyoto
getting from Kyoto to Arashiyama; Arashiyama is located about 30-45 minutes west of central Kyoto. The most convenient way to get there is by train:
- From Kyoto Station, take the JR Sagano Line to Saga Arashiyama Station. The ride takes about 15 minutes and costs 240 yen.
- Alternatively, you can take the Hankyu Railways line from Kawaramachi or Karasuma Station to Hankyu Arashiyama Station. This takes around 30 minutes and costs 310 yen.
- From Osaka, you can take the Hankyu Railways line directly to Hankyu Arashiyama Station. The ride takes around 50 minutes and costs 560 yen.
- Another option is Keifuku Railways (Randen) from Shijo Omiya Station to Arashiyama Station. The trip takes 45 minutes and costs 230 yen.
Once you arrive, the main sights are within walking distance or a short bus ride. Rental bikes are also available to explore the area.
Arashiyama day trip itinerary
Arashiyama 1 day itinerary
Here is a suggested one day itinerary to maximize your time in Arashiyama, from early morning to evening:
Morning Arashiyama Itinerary (8:00am – 12:00pm)
Start your morning on the peaceful north side of Arashiyama’s Togetsukyo Bridge. Follow this route:
- Arrive at Hankyu Arashiyama Station – This is the most convenient starting point on the north side. Exit the station and walk 5 minutes to the bridge.
- Cross Togetsukyo Bridge – Stop to take in the views of the Katsura and Oi Rivers flowing below. The bridge dates back to the Heian Period and offers beautiful scenery.
- Explore Okochi Sanso Villa – Just past the bridge, visit this historic villa and its stunning gardens. It once belonged to a famous Japanese actor.
- Hike to Monkey Park Iwatayama – A 20 minute uphill hike leads you to an open enclosure where you can observe and feed wild monkeys up close.
- Walk through the Bamboo Grove – Next, head down and get lost amid the towering bamboo stalks of this iconic Arashiyama grove. Try to go early to avoid crowds.
- Visit Tenryu-ji Temple – A UNESCO World Heritage site, Tenryu-ji is Arashiyama’s most important temple. Wander through the sprawling zen gardens and detailed temple buildings.
Afternoon Arashiyama Itinerary (12:00 – 4:00pm)
After exploring the bamboo groves and Tenryu-ji, cross back over Togetsukyo Bridge to the less-visited south side. Must-see stops include:
- Explore Daikaku-ji Temple – One of Kyoto’s largest temples, Daikaku-ji dates back to the early 800s. Stroll through the serene Osawa Pond garden.
- Eat lunch at a riverside restaurant – Refuel with udon noodles, TEMPURA, or Japanese curry along the riverside. There are many cafes and eateries to choose from with outdoor seats.
- Rent a bike – Renting an electric-assist bicycle near Arashiyama Station allows you to cover more ground. Bike rental shops are clustered around the station area.
- Marvel at Jojakko-ji Temple – Nestled in the mountainside, Jojakko-ji is known for its vivid fall foliage. See the thatched roof gate and small shrine hall.
- Visit Gio-ji Temple – This moss-covered temple has an ethereal atmosphere and a tranquil moss garden in the forest. The thatched roof and wooden accents are beautifully maintained.
- Explore Saga-Toriimoto Preserved Street – Take a peaceful stroll down this historic street lined with traditional houses, shops, and restaurants.
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Late Afternoon Arashiyama Itinerary Options
- Take a Hozu River boat ride and admire Arashiyama’s forests and temples from the water.
- Visit Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple to see the 1200 mystical stone Buddha statues scattered in the forest.
- Relax at a hot spring bath or spa before dinner. Try Tenzan-no-yu with indoor and open air baths.
Evening Arashiyama Itinerary (4:00 – 8:00pm)
- Dine on sushi or kaiseki-ryori (multi-course formal Japanese dinner) to end the night. Top restaurant picks are Kitcho Arashiyama for kaiseki and Teppan-Ku for sushi.
- Catch the light up display at bamboo grove (mid-December)
- Attend a traditional performing arts show at Gion Corner in Higashiyama
More Tips for Visiting Arashiyama
- Visit on a weekday to avoid the biggest crowds at famous sights like the Arashiyama bamboo grove.
- Arashiyama is extremely crowded during cherry blossom season in early April. Late March or May are less congested times to visit.
- Rent a kimono and stroll around Arashiyama dressed in traditional Japanese clothing for a fun cultural experience.
- Stay at a ryokan (traditional inn) to extend the old Japan atmosphere. Try Hoshinoya Kyoto or Arashiyama Benkei.
- Check out Arashiyama’s beautiful fall foliage colors between mid-November and early December. The leaves turn vibrant orange and red.
- Consider a guided tour or private guide to provide context, skip lines, and ensure you don’t miss anything: Sharing Kyoto and Voyagin offer excellent Arashiyama tours.
Arashiyama Itineraries by Length
Arashiyama Itinerary half day
If you only have a half day in Arashiyama, focus on the north side:
- Walk through Arashiyama bamboo Grove
- Visit Monkey Park
- Explore Tenryu-ji Temple
- Cross Togetsukyo Bridge
- Browse shops near station
Full Day kyoto Arashiyama Itinerary
With a full day, you can see the highlights on both the north and south sides:
- Morning: Arashiyam Bamboo Grove, Monkey Park, Tenryu-ji
- Afternoon: Okochi Sanso, Daikaku-ji, Preserved Street
- Evening: Boat Ride, Otagi Nenbutsu-ji, hot spring
Arashiyama Itinerary 2 days kyoto itinerary
Over two days, take it slower and include day trips nearby:
Day 1 Arashiyama Itinerary
- North Side: Tenryu-ji, Bamboo Grove, Monkey Park, Okochi Sanso
- Evening: Boat Ride, Hot Spring
Day 2 Arashiyama Itinerary
- Day trip to nearby sites: Sagano Scenic Railway, Adashino Nenbutsu-ji, Kinkaku-ji
- South Side: Daikaku-ji, Otagi Nenbutsu-ji, Jojakko-ji
- Evening: Gion Corner Show
Accessibility exploring Arashiyama
Arashiyama’s temples and bamboo groves involve traversing unpaved paths and steps. However, some areas are accessible:
- Okochi Sanso Villa has elevators to upper levels
- Boat rides on the Hozu River don’t require walking
- Otagi Nenbutsu-ji has a paved path through the temple grounds
- Request ground floor rooms at ryokans and business hotels
While not completely barrier-free, there are still many ways to enjoy Arashiyama’s scenery and culture with limited mobility. Check accessibility guides like Japan Accessible Tourism Center for more tips.
Staying Overnight in Arashiyama
Arashiyama makes a wonderfully peaceful base for exploring Kyoto. Some top places to stay include:
- Ritz Carlton – Luxury property with views of the river
- Hotel Kanra Kyoto – Elegant boutique hotel and spa
- Hoshinoya Arashiyama – Luxurious modern ryokan with onsen
- Arashiyama Benkei – Affordable guesthouse with traditional character
- Sekitei – Intimate ryokan right in the bamboo grove
- Shunkoin Temple – Stay in a Buddhist temple with morning meditation
- Entsuji – Lodging in monastery rooms
Escape the Crowds in Arashiyama
While extremely popular, Arashiyama’s vast expanse means you can escape the crowds by heading to lesser-known spots:
- Adashino Nenbutsu-ji – Small temple complex tucked away from the crowds
- Rakushisha Residence – Visit the historic home of poet Matsuo Basho
- Seirinji Temple – Quiet temple in northern Arashiyama with maple trees
- Walk up Mount Ogura – Hike uphill for panoramic views with fewer people
- Explore side streets off the main drag – Pop into artisan shops and eateries
By getting off the beaten path, you can experience the peaceful side of Arashiyama at its best. Slow down, wander off-grid, and find its hidden secrets.
How long do you spend in Arashiyama?
- Arashiyama Bamboo Grove – The walk through the bamboo grove itself takes around 15-30 minutes depending on your pace. Go as early as possible to avoid crowds. I’d budget at least 1 hour to stroll through slowly and take photos.
- Tenryu-ji Temple – You’ll need 45-60 minutes to see the temple buildings and wander through the large zen garden. More if you want to take your time.
- Monkey Park Iwatayama – Getting up and down the hill hike takes around 30-45 minutes total. You’ll want at least 30 minutes at the top to see the monkeys up close. So 1-1.5 hours is a good amount of time.
- Okochi Sanso Villa – About 30-45 minutes is sufficient here to see the villa, gardens, and panoramic views.
- Daikaku-ji Temple – A large temple complex, you’ll want at least 1 hour to fully explore and see Osawa Pond.
- Otagi Nenbutsu-ji – You can see this small temple and its 1200 statues within 30-45 minutes.
- Preserved Street – You can stroll end to end in 30 minutes. More time allows you to pop into shops.
how long do i need at arashiyama bamboo forest?
- To see just the Bamboo Grove, you only need around 1 hour.
- To see the Grove plus Tenryu-ji Temple, allot 2-3 hours.
- For the major highlights like the Grove, Tenryu-ji, Monkey Park and Daikaku-ji Temple, you’ll need most of a day – around 5-6 hours.
- To relax and see everything without rushing, I’d recommend devoting a full day or even two days to explore Arashiyama fully. It’s worth spending more time to soak in the peaceful atmosphere.
how long to go around arashiyama bamboo grove?
- To see just the Bamboo Grove, you only need around 1 hour.
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Experience the Magic of Arashiyama
With its peaceful bamboo groves, scenic river vistas, ancient shrines and temples, Arashiyama captures Kyoto’s magic like nowhere else. Follow this comprehensive itinerary to immerse yourself in its beauty and history on your next visit. forget about the city’s noise and crowds as you escape into the tranquil oneness of Arashiyama. Let its natural and cultural wonders restore you and create memories to last a lifetime.