Arashiyama or “Storm Mountain” in Japanese is a district located on the western outskirts of Kyoto, Japan. Popularly known for the Togetsukyo Bridge, Tenryuji Temple, and the Bamboo Grove, this area has been one of Japan’s best destinations visited both by the locals and the tourists most especially in springtime during the cherry blossom season. However, its splendid beauty is best-viewed on a fine day.
The most enjoyable and efficient way to explore the many sights of Arashiyama is to rent a bicycle as it expands your range and allows you to get around the area with ease. Rental bicycles are located around the train station areas and are available for rent for an hour to a full day. Upon renting a bicycle, a map of the area will be given to you, allowing you to explore all the many sights of Arashiyama at your own leisure.
The Togetsukyo Bridge or the “Moon Crossing Bridge” is one of the most famous landmarks around the area. Notable for its cherry blossoms and autumn colors on the slope of the dramatic range behind it, you may have seen it before on post cards and guide books. A park next to it with cherry trees lining the riverbank gives a spectacular view especially during the cherry blossom season.
Ranked first among Kyoto’s five great Zen temples and is now registered as a world heritage site, the Tenryuji Temple is the headline attraction in Arashiyama. Its beautiful landscape garden features a central pond surrounded by pine trees, rocks and the beautiful Arashiyama Mountains.
Another famous destination is the Bamboo Grove which is one of the most photographed sights in Kyoto city. The Japanese has a long history with bamboo to which man’s strength has been metaphorically linked. You can take a stroll and marvel at hundreds of tall bamboo trees as they move when the wind blows exuding a tranquil feel or capture its beauty during the sunset as the rays of light shine through the trees casting soft shadows on the path.
However, if you want to explore the shops and restaurants along the way, head to Saga-Toriimo Preserved Street. This charming old street is historical as it manages to retain its traditional townhouses from the Meiji Period. The townhouses used to be private residences though most of them had been transformed into restaurants and shops over time. Saga-Toriimo Preserved Street is rather short and deserted, except for the tourists exploring the place, which can give you the nostalgic feel. It may also be a good place to eat lunch.
The fastest access to Arashiyama is through the railway which will take you 15-20 minutes of travel. But you may also take the bus, the taxi, or use your car. However, you might get stuck in traffic jams since Kyoto is one of the busiest cities in Japan. And so it is recommended to access Arashiyama by train. Choose what suits you the best.