How to visit the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest near Kyoto

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest is one of the most famous attractions near Kyoto. You will find out all the information on how to visit Arashiyama Bamboo Forest in this guide.

The beautiful and memorizing Arashiyama bamboo grove on the outskirts of Kyoto is something everyone should see when they visit Kyoto.

This iconic bamboo forest is perfect to visit all year round. As you stroll the path lined with thousands of bamboos, you will inevitably feel a sense of relaxation and zen.

The bamboo grove is also one of the most photographed sights near Kyoto. I am sure you have seen the bamboo forest all over social media. But that’s not all, there are wonderful things to see near the Arashiyama bamboo forest, making it a great half day trip from Kyoto.

In this post I will tell you everything you need to know to have a perfect visit to the Arashiyama bamboo forest near Kyoto and tips on getting the best photos there.

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Where is the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest?

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest is also known as the Sagano Bamboo Forest.

The Bamboo Grove is located in the district of Arashiyama, on the western outskirt of Kyoto. The actual distance between Arashiyama Bamboo Forest and Kyoto is only about 10km (6 miles).

The entire length of the bamboo forest is only about 500m long to walk from end to end. There are actually two parts of the Bamboo forest. The area near the main street tends to be quite crowded but as you continue walking you will find less people and a more serene experience.

As you visit the bamboo grove you will also come across Tenryu-Ji, a famous Japanese zen temple with beautiful a Japanese garden located next to the Bamboo Forest.

Read Next: How to spend two efficient days in Kyoto

How to get to the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest from Kyoto?

It is easy and fast to get to the Arashiyama bamboo forest from Kyoto by public transportation.

Getting to the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove from Kyoto by Train

Arashiyama San-In Line from Kyoto

The easiest and fastest way from Kyoto to the bamboo forest is to take the JR San-In Line from Kyoto Station to Saga-Arashiyama Station.

This train costs ¥240 (unless you have a JR Pass) takes about 17 minutes with 7 stops (Umekoji-Kyotonishi, Tambaguchi, Nijo, Emmachi, Hanazono and Uzumasa Station) in between.

Once you get out of the Saga-Arashiyama Station, you can either take a bus (it comes every 7 minutes) or walk about 13 minutes to the bamboo grove. There are actually signs that point you towards the bamboo forest so you won’t get lost.

Another train you can take from Kyoto (Kyoto-Kawaramachi Station) to the Arashiyama bamboo grove is the Hankyu-Kyoto Line.

Arashiyama local train during Sakura season

From Kyoto-Kawaramachi Station, take the Hankyu-Kyoto Line to Saiin Station. Then you can take either bus 28 from Nishi Oji Shijo to Nonomiya or take Randen (tram) from Sai Station Arashiyama Station. The cost of both is about ¥380-¥390 and takes about 40-45 minutes.

Due to the more expensive cost and longer travel time, I highly recommend taking San-In Line (the first method mentioned) to the bamboo grove.

Getting to the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove from Kyoto by Bus

You can also take the bus (bus 28) from Kyoto to Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.

Bus would cost about ¥230 and takes 45 minutes to 1 hour from Kyoto to the bamboo forest.

If you have the Bus One-Day Pass in Kyoto, you can use that to take the bus to Arashiyama.

Visiting Arashiyama Bamboo Forest with a tour

If you don’t feel comfortable traveling on trains by yourself or you just like having everything arranged for you, then you can consider taking a tour.

There are specific bamboo grove and food tour, or take a rickshaw tour in the bamboo forest.

Walking to the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove from Kyoto

This sounds a little crazy but if you really want, you can walk 2 hours from Kyoto to the bamboo forest. I don’t think it’s worth it, but if you like to walk and wants to see everything along the way, this could be an option.

In general, you can check Google Maps to find the best direction from Kyoto to Arashiyama (and vice versa). Google Maps is a very reliable source to find public transportation within Japan.

Woman in Kimono walking in Arashiyama Bamboo Grove Forest

Read Next: Arashiyama Travel Guide: Best Things to Do and Eat in Arashiyama

How much does it cost to visit Arashiyama Bamboo Grove?

The bamboo grove near Kyoto is open 24/7 all year round and it is absolutely free to visit.

You can walk there any time of the day (or night). It is not a ticketed attraction.

When is the best time to visit Arashiyama Bamboo Forest?

Since the bamboo forest is open all year round, you can visit any time of the year.

But if you want the best weather when visiting, I highly recommend to visit late fall between October and November when the weather is less humid. Another benefit of visiting in the fall is that you get to see beautiful foliage colors of trees nearby in Arashiyama!

Since the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is such a popular attraction near Kyoto, there are a lot of tourist everyday all year round.

wedding shoots at Arashiyama bamboo forest

In general, the bamboo forest does not get crowded until 8am, so if you want the perfect photo (without people in it), then you should get to the bamboo grove from Kyoto by 8am at the latest.

I personally went around 8am in late September, there were a few wedding photo shoots there, but other than that we pretty much had the bamboo forest to ourselves for a good hour. But I did hear that it’s gotten much more crowded this year, so you should adjust your expectations.

In addition, you can also visit the bamboo forest late afternoon (before sunset). Most tourist would have left by then, so you can have some peace and quietness plus good lighting (sunset time is the best time to take photos in my opinion since light during day time can be too harsh and cause too many shadows).

Read Next: How to Spend 10 Days in Japan for First Time Japan Travelers

How to avoid people and get the best photos at Arashiyama Bamboo Forest?

Besides getting to the bamboo grove super early or late, there are other tips I can share for you to avoid people and get the best photos at Arashiyama Bamboo Forest.

Kyoto bamboo forest - how to get there

Visit the back end of the bamboo forest

The Arashiyama Bamboo Forest actually has two portions.

Most visitors will enter the bamboo forest from the main street because they would have just gotten off the train. Since the bamboo forest is so mesmerizing, most people would start taking photos almost immediately near the entrance of the bamboo grove.

If you want to avoid people at the bamboo grove, you should continue walking towards the other end of the bamboo forest. This is where you will see the least number of people and tourist.

Visit on a rainy or snowy day

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest in the snow | How to reach the Kyoto Bamboo grove

Everyone wants to visit the bamboo forest on a clear day if they could help it. Therefore if you go on a snowy or a rainy day, there will definitely be less people around.

Visit on a weekday

Weekend and public holidays are the most crowded time to visit the bamboo forest. As a tourist, you have more flexibility to visit on weekdays!

Be Patient and play with angles

If you have to visit the Arashiyama bamboo grove during the most crowded hours, then you have to be creative in your photos.

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove from Kyoto

In general if you point the camera up, you will be able to capture more of the bamboo and not see the crowds behind you.

In addition, sometimes you just need to be a little patient and catch a 20 seconds break between the crowds to get that shot. But you will most likely need to be facing one side of the bamboo grove (and not stand in the middle of the path).

Other Tips for Visiting the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

Depending on when you visit the bamboo grove, be prepared to battle mosquitos.

I visited late September and there were a ton of mosquitos early in the morning. I highly recommend that you bring bug spray with you if you are visiting in the summer and fall! I did not know this and ended up with numerous bug bite during the hour that I was there.

Bring both a zoom lens and a wide angle lens with you will allow you to take the best photos of the bamboo forest. Of course you can always use an iPhone but I am a big fan of nice cameras. The zoom lens will allow you to capture the tall bamboo forest in its entirety and the zoom lens is perfect for portrait shots with nice bokeh in the background.

You can rent a kimono to wear to the Bamboo Forest. However these kimono rental places usually open at 9am, so it may be better for you to visit the bamboo forest late afternoon instead to avoid the crowd.

Do not bring food and eat at the Arashiyama bamboo forest. It is considered very rude in Japan to walk and eat! Eat well before you visit.

Read Next: Perfect Kamakura day trip from Tokyo

Alternatives to the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

If you want nice photos with a bamboo forest or simply want to avoid the crazy crowd, there is actually an alternative to the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest.

At Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple, north of Arashiyama, you can find a mini version of the bamboo forest without many people. In fact most people do not know about this hidden gem.

I personally think Arashiyama Bamboo Forest is quite overrated and I saw a similar but much quieter bamboo forest in Maui on the Pipiwai Trail. Therefore if you just want an iconic photo with a bamboo forest, then consider Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple instead

Where to stay in Arashiyama

If you want to spend the night in Arashiyama (so you can visit bamboo forest first thing in the morning), there are some really nice hotels in Arashiyama district.

These Japanese accommodations will provide you with an amazing and authentic and luxury experience.

Hotel in Arashiyama with private bath

Rangetsu is a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) that offers private Hinoki cypress wood bath and indoor/outdoor baths (hot spring) as well.

Nagi Kyoto Arashiyama is beautiful property located only 13 minute walk from the bamboo forest. Each room is tastefully designed with Japanese decors.

Arashiyama Benkei hotel in Arashiyama
Arashiyama Benkei

Arashiyama Benkei is a traditional Japanese ryokan on the riverwalk in Arashiyama. It features an indoor hot spring (onsen), a terrace and a garden. There are 20 onsite restaurants, free self parking, area shuttle, etc.

Suiran is a luxury hotel in Arashiyama located right along the Katsura River. It features a beautiful Japanese garden, spa, private open-air bath (with reservation). It is only a 3 minute walk to the Tenryuji Temple, next to the Bamboo Forest.

Kids friendly hotel in Arashiyama with toys
The Grandwest Arashiyama

The Grandwest Arashiyama is luxury hotel that is perfect for families traveling to Arashiyama. The hotel even brings toys to the room for kids, and the hotel is very kids friendly (with toilet step stools, kids yukata, body wash and bath toys).

Other Things to do in Arashiyama

Besides the bamboo grove, there are many other great things to do in Arashiyama such as shrines, temples, Monkey park, etc.

You can essentially visit the bamboo grove, walk to the shrines, grab snacks from the main commercial street, hike up to the Monkey Park and even do a scenic train ride or boat ride in Arashiyama for one day.

For detailed things to do and eat in Arashiyama, check out my super detailed Arashiyama travel guide.

Arashiyama historical building | Things to do in Arashiyama near the bamboo forest


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