There are so many amazing things to do in Kyoto! If you need help to decide on what to do at Arashiyama, maybe this 1-day itinerary of Arashiyama can help. It details five of the best things to do in Arashiyama, Kyoto.
When I visited, I spent the morning spent at Kinkakuji Temple. The next stop on the itinerary is Arashiyama. Ideally, you need a full day here to take your time and enjoy the area. It is a bit rushed trying to do both, but if you have time constraints, that’s unfortunately what you have to do. In saying that, it was one of my favourite days of the whole trip. The sights and activities were all varied, so it was a great mix of things to do.
When is the best time to visit Arashiyama? This is always a tough question to answer because it depends a lot on you! If you want to specifically see the cherry blossoms in Japan, then you’ll need to travel during Spring. The cons are that it is peak tourist time. Everywhere will be busy with people. Because of this, prices for hotels will be more expensive. March and April have slightly higher precipitation rates than October and November.
The Autumn months of October and November are another great time to travel to Arashiyama. The temperatures are slightly higher than in March and April. If you travel during this period, you will have beautiful autumn foliage. It’s no cherry blossom season though. The good thing about that is the crowds should be smaller at the main Kyoto tourist attractions. Because of this, the prices for hotels should be less than during Spring.
My recommendation is always to travel in the shoulder periods. You will typically get more mild weather and the prices are cheaper. This is where flexibility is important for cost control when travelling.
How to get to Arashiyama
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The Arashiyama prefecture is in Western Kyoto. There are many public transport options in Kyoto to take you to Arashiyama. These include buses, trains and taxies. There are also private tours of Kyoto that you could book which include ground transport. Of course, these tours will cost more than if you travel by public transport. This will need to be taken into account when setting your travel budget.
In the itinerary that I put together, we visited Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion, before going to Arashiyama. I decided that it was quicker and easier to catch a taxi and it dropped us off at the start of the bamboo grove. When considering your transport options, it is important to weigh up the cost vs benefit of each.
If you are visiting Arashiyama from a major city hub, then read on for details.
Day trip from Tokyo to Arashiyama
You can certainly visit Arashiyama from Tokyo as a day trip. From Tokyo, it will take about 2 1/2 hours on the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto train station. For this reason, it is recommended that you spend a few days in Kyoto. Spending time in Kyoto will allow you to visit some of the key Kyoto tourist attractions.
The easiest way to travel from Tokyo to Kyoto station is by catching the Shinkansen. You can buy single train tickets, but it is more cost-effective to buy a JR Rail Pass. The best way to check the Tokyo to Kyoto train schedule is to use the Hyperdia website or app. This app is by far the most important tool for catching trains in Japan. It’s also a great tool in your Japan travel planning.
Related: Order your JR Rail Pass here.
Day trip from Osaka to Arashiyama
A Kyoto day trip from Osaka can be completed easily. The Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka station to Kyoto station is the quickest way to travel. It will only take around 15 minutes. A special rapid service train will take you around 25 minutes. Again, use the Hyperdia app or website to check the Osaka to Kyoto train schedules.
Make sure visiting Arashiyama is part of your Kyoto itinerary from Osaka. You won’t be disappointed as there are so many things to see and do in Arashiyama.
How to get to Arashiyama from Kyoto Station
If you are coming from Tokyo or Osaka, you will arrive at Kyoto station. Kyoto Station to Arashiyama is straightforward. There’s a JR train that goes from Kyoto Station to Saga-Arashiyama Station on the Sagano Line. This trip will take about 15 minutes. And then, you’re there! You’re at Arashiyama and ready to start your adventure in this area.
1-day itinerary of Arashiyama
Visiting Arashiyama is one of the top things to do in Kyoto. It is a very popular area for tourists. The will be crowds of people you will need to contend with.
Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama
One of the things you must do in Kyoto is to visit the Arashiyama bamboo forest. The Arashiyama bamboo grove in Kyoto is one of those iconic tourist attractions in Japan. As soon as you start searching for places to visit in Japan, this will be one of the sights that pop up. And rightly so.
There is something otherworldly about walking through this forest. When the wind blows through the bamboo, it makes the most lovely swishing noises. Enjoy listening to the wind rustling the bamboo.
The bamboo forest is split up into two sections by Tenryuji Temple. When walking from the station, you will come to the first half. In this section, the forest is less dense. There are also typically fewer people here. Take your time here and take your photos. Don’t be in such a rush to get through this section.
As you continue walking you will come to Tenryuji Temple in the bamboo grove. After the temple grounds, the bamboo forest thickens up. It is the prettiest part of the path because of this. This is also the area where the crowds are the largest. You will be jostled along this section of the path.
The Kyoto Arashiyama bamboo grove is one of the most popular things to do in Kyoto. There will be large crowds here, so be prepared to have lots of random people in your photos!
How to get to Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
To get from Kyoto Station to Arashiyama Bamboo Grove will involve two forms of transport. A train and your feet! From Kyoto Station, you will alight from the train at Saga-Arashiyama Station. Then it is a 500m walk to the beginning of the bamboo forest.
At the station, you will find rickshaws waiting to take you to the bamboo forest. The rickshaws are not cheap, but the driver deserves the fee because this job wouldn’t be easy!
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove opening hours
The Arashiyama bamboo forest opening hours are 24 hours! That’s right, the bamboo grove is open 24/7, so you can visit at any time of the day that you like! To avoid crowds, the best time to visit the Arashiyama bamboo forest would be early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove entrance fee
The Arashiyama bamboo forest entrance fee is nothing! True story! Not only does it not close, but it also does not cost you a cent to enter! It’s totally free to visit. It’s another one of many free things to do in Kyoto.
Tenryuji Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Tenryuji complex sits on the site of the first zen temple in Japan. It was built in the 9th century. However, the original temple fell into disuse and disrepair. Tenryuji Temple was subsequently built by shogun Ashikaga Takauji. It was officially consecrated in 1345.
Fires have damaged the buildings in the complex over the years. The Tenryuji complex, as it stands, has been this way since 1934.
Upon entry to the Tenryuji complex, you will walk into a beautiful garden. The garden area is very peaceful. Following the path, you will find yourself at the first building, the Hall of Many Treasures. Continuing along, you will come to the Sogenchi Garden. This Zen garden has a magnificent pond in the middle. Stop here and take in the surroundings. Soak up the atmosphere.
You can then continue walking around the pond and up through the Garden of a Hundred Flowers. There is a small bamboo forest here too.
Exit the Tenryuji Temple complex, turn left and continue walking through the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.
How to get to Tenryuji Temple
Getting from Arashiyama Bamboo Grove to Tenryuji Temple is very simple. You will literally walk past the entrance to the temple while you are on the forest’s path. It is also signposted within the bamboo grove. You really can’t miss it!
Tenryuji Temple opening hours
The opening hours of Tenryuji Temple is 8.30 am until 5 pm.
Check the official website for changes.
Tenryuji Temple entrance fee
The entrance fee for the Tenryuji Temple complex depends on what you would like to see.
If you only want to walk through the gardens, it is 500 Yen for adult and high school children. 300 Yen for children.
If you want to access the buildings also, it is an additional 300 Yen.
Check the official website for changes.
Sagano Romantic Train Arashiyama
The Arashiyama Sagano Scenic Railway is a train ride that meanders alongside the Katsura River. The train ride takes about 25 minutes to travel between Saga Torrokko Station and Kameoka Torokko Station. The length of the trip is just over 7kms long.
This itinerary catches the Sagano Romantic Train from Arashiyama Torokko Station. This is because it is the closest station to the bamboo forest. When booking your train ticket, ask if there is any availability in ‘The Rich’ car (car no.5). This is an open-air carriage without glass windows. It allows you to feel more connected to the nature you are surrounded by. If it rains, you will get wet! But it really is a fantastic experience.
The Katsura River or Hozukyo River is a vibrant aqua colour. You will be able to admire the river as you go past on the train. The autumn foliage was beautiful. I can only imagine how amazing this train ride is during the cherry blossom season.
When you reach Kameoka Torroko Station, there are a few ways to travel back to Arashiyama. You can catch a JR train back from Umahori Station. Or you can take a Hozugawa River Boat Ride. The boat would have been my preferred method, but my travelling partner gets motion sick! So it was better for us to take the JR train back to Saga Arashiyama Station.
How to get to Sagano Romantic Train Arashiyama
When you get to the end of the Arashiyama bamboo forest, you will come to a T-intersection. Turn right and follow the path over the railway line. After a couple of minutes, you will come to the Arashiyama Torokko Station. Here you will find the station building that sells tickets for the Sagano Romantic Train.
Sagano Romantic Train opening hours
The first train commences from Saga Torrokko Station at 9.02 am.
The last train departs from Kameoka Torokko Station at 5.40 pm.
Check the official website for more train schedules.
Sagano Romantic Train entrance fee
You cannot catch the Sagano Scenic Railway using a JR Pass.
The ticket cost for adults (12 years and over) is 630 Yen.
For children below 12, the ticket costs 320 Yen.
Main Street and Togetsukyo Bridge
If you have followed this itinerary for Arashiyama, you will find yourself back at the Saga Arashiyama train station. If this is the case, you will now need to walk back towards the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove to get to the main street. The main street in Arashiyama has a lovely feel! There are the types of stores you expect to see in Japan, the cute candy stores, the quirky and unique souvenir stores. We even found a store selling cat and dog-themed products.
Follow the main road to get to the Togetsukyo Bridge. The Togetsukyo Bridge spans the Katsura River. The name means Moon Crossing Bridge. The wooden bridge is 155m long and was originally built in the 9th century. The current bridge was completed in 1934. This area is perfect to visit during autumn and spring as the views are amazing.
How to get to Togetsukyo Bridge
The walk from Saga Arashiyama Station to Togetsukyo Bridge is about 900m. The area is relatively flat, so it’s an easy walk. But by this stage of the day, your feet are probably getting quite sore!
Togetsukyo Bridge opening hours
The main street and bridge is the main thoroughfare of the prefecture, so needless to say, it’s open 24/7! You can view the bridge day or night, whenever you like! However, the shops along the main street have normal trading hours.
Togetsukyo Bridge entrance fee
There is no fee to access the bridge as it is a public road.
Iwatayama Monkey Park Arashiyama
Prior to getting to the entrance building for the Iwatayama Monkey Park, there is a shrine. The orange torii gates always stand out so beautifully against the surrounding trees. The monkey park is not very accessible if you can’t walk unaided. There are many stairs, just to get to the entrance.
After paying the entrance fee and entering the park you will need to follow a path to the top of Mt Arashiyama. Immediately you have to walk up a large flight of stairs. Take your time going up the stairs, the climb is far from over. The walk to the top of the mountain takes about 30 minutes. It is not an easy walk, but it is quite nice. There are seats along the way. Stop, catch your breath and have a drink whenever you need to.
Soon enough you will reach the top. It’s a good feeling. And then you see that there are monkeys everywhere and it makes the climb worth it!
At this park, you’re able to hand feed the monkeys. You have to go inside the building to do this though and you feed them through the wired windows. You buy a bag of apple pieces or nuts for 100Y, which is a great price for a little bit of fun. It was amazing to watch the relationships between the monkeys and working out the hierarchy between them.
How to get to Iwatayama Monkey Park
From the Togetsukyo Bridge, it is a 2 minute walk. From Saga Arashiyama it will take about 15 minutes to walk. The walk is very nice though, so your mind is taken off the task at hand.
Iwatayama Monkey Park opening hours
The opening times for the Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama will depend on what season you are visiting in.
Spring and summer is open from 9 am until 4.30 pm.
Autumn and winter is open from 9 am until 4 pm.
Check the official website for more details.
Iwatayama Monkey Park entrance fee
The Arashiyama Monkey Park entrance fee is 550 Yen for adults aged 16 and over.
For children under 16 years old, the entrance fee is 250 Yen.
Check the official website for more details.
Add these to your Arashiyama itinerary
There are so many more things to do Arashiyama that this itinerary hasn’t covered. Here’s a few more ideas for your itinerary:
Jojakkoji Temple, ‘the temple with no walls’, is a Nichiren sect temple that was founded late in the 16th century. More details on the official website here.
Nisonin Temple is a Buddhist temple that was founded in the 9th century. More details on the official website here.
Final thoughts on this Arashiyama itinerary
This 1 day Kyoto itinerary for Arashiyama is very full on! By the end of this day trip to Arashiyama, you will probably have sore feet! But you will have a camera full of photos and some amazing memories.
I hope this itinerary has helped you work out what to see in Arashiyama! Arashiyama is a beautiful prefecture in Kyoto and should not be missed.