With plenty to see and do and just a short train journey away from central Kyoto, Arashiyama is a must-visit destination while staying in the city. Here’s what you need to know about exploring this beautiful location.
How to get to Arashiyama from Kyoto
Arashiyama is easily reached by train from Kyoto. The private Arashiyama line has three stops ending at Arashiyama (station 98) and begins at Katsura (station 81). Katsura is just a few stops away from Karasuma (station 85) which connects to the city’s Subway system.
Japanese train website Hyperdia is very useful and they also have an app which is worth downloading for your visit.
The station is small and just a short walk from all of the area’s attractions.
Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama
One of Arashiyama’s biggest draws is its wild monkeys, which you find in a park atop Mount Arashiyama. At the base of the hill there’s an entrance and it’ll cost you just a few hundred yen to enter the park which is also a wonderful place for walking and hiking.
On the way up there are signs telling you how to act around the monkeys so you’re prepared when you first encounter them.
The top is where the monkeys can be found and there are a number of staff dotted around keeping an eye on both them and the visitors. The monkeys aren’t caged or restricted – they wander around freely and the emphasis is on the visitors to treat them correctly.
There’s a large hut which the monkeys are not allowed to enter and from in here visitors can feed them from behind the bars and get up close with them safely. A small lake and plenty of trees provide the monkeys with plenty to do to keep them entertained and happy.
As well as getting to see the monkeys in their natural habitat, the park has excellent views across Arashiyama and over to Kyoto.
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
The other main attraction of the Arashiyama is the bamboo grove. Located about a 15 minute walk away from the railway station just off the area’s main street, Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is a winding path surrounded by beautiful bamboo.
Sometimes described as a bamboo forest, it is actually a single path and it does get extremely busy. It goes past temples and ends up in a very quiet park, on the edge of the Katsura River.
Go early, if you can. Entry is free.
Boat trips on the Katsura River
A journey on a traditional boat on the Katsura River is a wonderfully relaxing way to end a day in Arashiyama. Boat trips last about 30-40 minutes and can be hired by couples or small groups. A single boatman pilots each vessel using a large pole to steer along the river and back again, and this traditional method of propulsion adds to the relaxed atmosphere.
The river is fairly quiet with just a few other similar boats sailing along, as well as another boat selling snacks and drinks which pulls up alongside the hired vessels. A must-do when in the area.