As you approach Arashiyama, the first thing you see is that the flat views disappear in the mountain ranges. In the early 700-1100 years, rich nobles traveled to Arashiyama to enjoy their natural landscape and escape the city. While it is still true that people do too, now this place is for everyone, rich or poor. The word “Arashiyama” is translated into “Storm Mountain”. The mountains here are covered with lush trees and so they look a bit dark, giving them their intimidating name. The mountains look down on the river Ōi, creating a picturesque landscape while driving along the road.
Attractions around Bamboo Forest
The bamboo forest (Chikurin no Michi “竹林 の 道”) is one of the most popular tourist sites in Kyoto along with the Fushimi Inari Shrine and the Kinkakuji Temple. They are wonderful visual panoramas. Most of the bamboos in this forest have a height of 5 to 10 m, some reach up to 20 m. It has a path of approximately 200 m long that crosses the forest where visitors can enjoy a pleasant walk.
The road is between Tenryuji Temple and Okouchi Sanso Garden, which are also popular tourist attractions. Different parts of the road deviate giving access to the other attractions that are inside the forest. Tenryuji Temple and Nonomiya Shrine serve as markers that flank each end of the road. Within the bamboo forest, is the Nonomiya Shrine. In this small Shinto shrine the single imperial princesses have traveled to purify themselves before their marriage. The deities that are enshrined here include “Nonomiya Okami”; God of Health and Wisdom, “Shirafuku Inari Daimmyojin”; God of conception, gentle childbirth and prosperous business, “Shiramine Benzaiten” and most importantly for single women, “Nonomiya Daikokuten”; God for pairing.
Each December, the Hanatoro festival takes place in several places in the Arashiyama area, including bamboo forests. Bamboo lighting takes place during the festival. Although it is the beauty of bamboo that attracts the masses, these distinctive noises have become an attraction in their own right.
A few years ago, the Ministry of the Environment included the Sagano bamboo forest in its list of “100 sound landscapes of Japan,” a selection of everyday noises intended to encourage locals to stop and enjoy nature’s music. Another attraction of the place is to take a boat trip on the Hozu River. The river flows through the wooded valley towards the urban area of Kyoto. Alternatively, you can enjoy the views of the valley from the Sagano train and you can rent a bicycle in the District.
Arashiyama is particularly beautiful and visited during the season of cherry blossoms and autumn leaves. To enjoy the best experience it is convenient to leave early in the morning or at night and avoid the weekends completely, when Japanese hikers descend to the area, especially in autumn and spring. The natural beauty and spirituality of Kyoto can be found in this beautiful area of Arashiyama.
From Saga-Arashiyama (JR Line) or Arashiyama (Randen Line) station