The Arashiyama bamboo forest in Kyoto is such a dreamy place, like a fairytale really. Especially early in the morning. Pretty much everybody knows about this forest, but not many know about the nearby fun and pretty temples. In this article I will share with you my tips including the temples that I would highly recommend you to visit.
Every once and awhile, in the middle of our ordinary existence, life gives us a fairytale. Keep on believing, it does exist!
Fortunately still many people arrive relatively late (after 8:30am) and ignore the temples around the Arashiyama bamboo forest. Good – that means more serenity for you. The following nearby temples will make you smile and feel privileged you were able to visit them. Promise!
This temple is THE must see in Kyoto. Located most far out of the bamboo forest, meaning barely any tourists. But on walking distance!
The figures at this temple made me laugh so much!!
This is really the funniest temple I have ever been to!
No funny statues’ faces here, yet impressive. This temple has 8000 Buddist statues to remember the souls who died without relatives.
The Adashino Nenbutsu-ji temple includes another, small bamboo forest not many tourists know about. It is currently being renovated (april 2018).
Gio-jo moss temple
The lush green moss is what makes Gio-jo attractive. The tiny temple itself is nothing special really, only the surrounding garden is nice to see (not a must). Can be a bit busy as it’s rather close to the Arashiyama bamboo forest, which you can see on the background.
Saga-Toriimito Preserved Street
Walking from the forest to these temples, you will pass this preserved street with old houses.
When you walk back to the station via the Daikaku-ji temple (northeast), you will also see some of Kyoto’s country side.
This mobile friendly map includes most things mentioned in this article and is smartphone friendly. You can use it easily via Google Maps. Click on the top left icon to open the menu. You can (un)select categories/areas to customize the map to your needs. Via Google Drive you can copy it to your folder of My Google Maps.
Meet Sabrina and Chiraz, two gorgeous Dutch sisters I met at the Arashiyama bamboo forest and spent most of the day with. Great company!
More than 50 million tourists visit Kyoto every year. The Arashiyama bamboo forest is definitely a highlight. To stay ahead of the crowd, make sure you arrive at the forest early in the morning (7 am at latest). In the middle of the day it becomes madhouse with bus loads full of people. Better avoid the weekends and Golden Week too.
- The Arashiyama bamboo forest can easily be reached by a 10 minutes’ walk from the Saga-Arashiyama Station, which is 16 minutes west of Kyoto Station by train (San-In Line in the direction of Sonobe). This train ride is covered under the JR Pass.
- The Arashiyama bamboo forest has no opening hours and no entrance fee.
- Most temples ask around ¥500 entrance fee (cash only).
- Before you start the walk, get yourself some water and lunch.
- There is a bike rental shop near the train station, but it only opens around 9 am.
- The Arashiyama bamboo forest is only a few hundred meters long.
- If you have the time, consider the Saga Scenic Railway alongside the Hozu River.
Should you not want to travel alone to the Arashiyama bamboo forest and prefer group travel, consider booking a guided tour. It is very convenient because they will take you all around the city and you do not have to think about where to go. Possibly you will be able to see more in one day. Downside is that these tours usually arrive when everybody gets there too, so you should expect some crowds then.
Another temple worth visiting in Kyoto is the well-known Kinkaku-ji temple, also known as the Golden Temple. It’s in the northwest part of the city.
The Golden Temple can only be reached by bus or combination metro plus bus or by foot. The bus ride (¥230), from a main street somewhere between Nishiki Market and Pontocho Alley, took me more than one hour due to busy traffic. The temple closes at 17:00h, I got in as last at 16:50h!
There are hundreds of temples in Kyoto, some more special than the others. If you have only a few days in this wonderful city, like me, set priorities. Personally I would recommend to limit yourself to the above, at least for one day. Enjoy!
Last update: October 2019
Thank you Karlijn for helpful suggestions.
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