Located right outside the north gate of Tenryu-ji Buddhist temple, the Arashiyama bamboo grove is like stepping into another world- or a stock photo computer screen saver, except it’s REAL. We arrived about an hour before sunset, and the light through the tops of the very tall bamboo shoots was magical. There is a wide, paved walking/biking path that winds gently uphill from the temple with bamboo as far as the eye can see in all directions. We appreciated that this activity was completely stroller friendly. We used the other half of our double as a backpack holder, and put our baby in the carrier for a nap. It was a very peaceful walk for us!
In doing some research on the Arashiyama area, I learned that noblemen have vacationed in this area since 700 A.D. In the past, locals used the bamboo from this forest to make baskets, cups and mats. For more information on the various activities and sights in the Arashiyama area, click here.
After walking up the hill to the west end of the bamboo forest, we headed back the way we came and continued east to the JR Saga-Arashiyama station to go back to Kyoto station and on to Osaka. The JR station was one of three stations in the Arashiyama area, and ended up being a 15-20 minute walk from the bamboo forest. The forest is right next to the rail line, so we just headed west until we ran into the station! There are sight-seeing trains that go higher into the mountains and terminate at Arashiyama as well.
I should take a moment to explain trains in Japan. Transit by rail in Japan is confusing! There are many different lines owned by various companies, so the stations are in different areas of city and at times, can be confusing and hard to navigate. It is also hard to know what kind of pass or ticket to buy, because in one weekend trip, we used trains and subways from three different rail companies! You have a few options when traveling by rail in Japan: research beforehand and know your stuff, learn Japanese, or wing it and maybe end up somewhere different from where you were intending to go. Traveling with kids, and not knowing a lick of Japanese, we opted for intense research beforehand and only had one mix-up- in Osaka. We decided on the Haruka Express ticket + ICOCA card for getting around Japan. The Haruka Express is an express train from the Kansai International airport (Osaka’s main airport) to Kyoto with few stops. The ICOCA card can be used for all railways, subways, and buses in most cities in Japan- check their website to make sure the cities on your itinerary are included!
Come to Arashiyama to enjoy the bamboo grove, but also check out everything else this beautiful area has to offer. We were blown away by the peaceful surroundings and beautiful scenery of this place!