Arashiyama Travel Guide: What To Do And Eat in Arashiyama, Japan

Arashiyama Travel Guide: What To Do And Eat in Arashiyama, Japan

Arashiyama is a popular tourist destination near Kyoto. This Arashiyama travel guide will show you the best things to do and awesome places to eat in Arashiyama.

Arashiyama is designated as a national historic site and a beautiful scenic district that has always been popular with Japanese aristocrats historically. Now it is also one of the most visited areas near Kyoto for both domestic and international tourists.

Due to its world famous bamboo grove, historical Togetsukyo Bridge and famous shrines, Arashiyama is full of incredible sights that keep all visitors entertained.

In addition, there are some gourmet spots for lunch and dinner as well as hotsprings and souvenir shops, making Arashiyama a wonderful day trip from Kyoto.

In this Arashiyama travel guide, we will go over the best attractions, cafes and restaurants in Arashiyama and answer all your questions about Arashiyama.

This blog contains occasional affiliate links, where I receive a small commission on sales of the products/hotels that are linked at no additional cost to you. In addition, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Pinterest Pin: Things to do and eat in Arashiyama, Kyoto Japan with photos of Arashiyama during different seasons of the year

Where is Arashiyama?

Arashiyama in Japanese is 嵐山, which means Storm Mountain. Arashiyama is a scenic district on the western outskirt of Kyoto.

It is about 10km (6 miles) from the center of Kyoto and can be easily reached by public transportation or a tour.

The town itself is not very big and at the heart of Arashiyama you will find a lively shopping district, the historical Togetsukyo Bridge, the symbol of Arashiyama.


How To Get To Arashiyama From Kyoto

Arashiyama is very easy to reach from Kyoto. There are trains, buses and tours that can take visitors easily from Kyoto to Arashiyama.

Kyoto to Arashiyama by Train

JR Train from Kyoto to Arashiyama

JR Train Sagano Line from Kyoto Station is the fastest way to get to Arashiyama.

It takes 16 minutes from Kyoto to Arashiyama by local train and only 12 minutes by rapid train. The trains operate every 15 minutes and it cost ¥240.

Once you get off the train, it takes about 10-15 minutes to walk to the center of Arashiyama and the bamboo grove.

You can also take the Randen (tram) to Arashiyama from Kyoto (Sai or Shijo Omiya).

Randen Tram in Arashiyama

Randen is operated by a private company Keifuku Electric Railroad and is not part of the JR Trail network. Many people like taking the Randen tram while enjoying the scenic routes on the tram.

The Randen from Sai Station to Arashiyama Station takes 20 minutes and costs ¥220.

Kyoto to Arashiyama by Bus

If you have a Kyoto Bus Pass and prefers to take the bus instead of train from Kyoto to Arashiyama, you can take Bus #28 from Kyoto Station.

The bus between Kyoto and Arashiyama takes about 45 minutes to an hour and costs ¥230.

You can use Google Map in Japan to best navigate and get bus directions since you way want to get off at a different stop in Kyoto.

Taking a Tour to Arashiyama

There are many tours from Kyoto or Osaka to Arashiyama. These tours generally take at least half a day to one day and will take you to the most famous attractions in Arashiyama.


When is the best time to visit Arashiyama?

Arashiyama is beautiful all year round but the best time to visit Arashiyama is in the spring and autumn.

Arashiyama sakura season

During spring (end of March – early April), Arashiyama is famous for its cherry blossom sighting. And in the fall month of late October to November, you will see beautiful and vibrant foliate colors on the hills surrounding Arashiyama.

Summer can be very hot and humid in Arashiyama, and it can make the visit less pleasant. In the summer month of August, you can expect an average high of 89F (31C) and even in September it can be as high as 80F (27C). You can also expect the most amount of rainfall in June and July.

There are also a lot of mosquitos in the summer and early fall, so be prepared to bring bug spray with you if you do visit between June and October.

Arashiyama bamboo forest in the snow

In the winter months of December and January, the temperature can dip to about freezing and it can snow in Arashiyama. However I do think a visit to the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest in the snow is more beautiful than in other season.


Top Landmarks and best things to do in Arashiyama

There are a lot of awesome attractions in Arashiyama. Most international travelers know about the bamboo grove but there are so much more.

I will go over some of the best things to do in Arashiyama in this section of the Arashiyama travel guide.

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove Kyoto Attractions

The official name of the Arashiyama bamboo forest is Sagano Bamboo Forest. The bamboo grove is probably the best things to do in Arashiyama if you want that iconic photo.

This bamboo forest is considered one of the prettiest bamboo groves in the world and is free to visit 24/7.  Tens of thousands of visitors come to Japan each year to visit the beautiful bamboo forest so it can get really crowded especially in the warmer months.

Most people visit the bamboo forest first before visiting the other famous attractions in Arashiyama. I highly recommend that you visit the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest before 8am to avoid the crowd.

Check out my Arashiyama Bamboo Forest guide to see everything you need to know for your visit.

Tenjyuri Temple (天龍寺)

Tenjyuri Temple garden in Arashiyama

The Tenjyuri Temple is one of the most important temples in the Arashiyama area and one of the top things to do in Arashiyama.

Although the main building of Tenjyuri Temple had been burned down a few times throughout the centuries, the beautiful garden remained intact and untouched.

The garden and pond represent the beautiful Japanese architecture and the mountain backdrop makes the Tenjyuri Temple’s garden one of the prettiest places in Kyoto.

Photo of a girl bending over to get water with the bamboo spoons at a Japanese garden at Tenjyuri Temple in Arashiyama

The Tenjyuri Temple is perfect to visit after you finish seeing the bamboo forest.

It is about pretty much next to the bamboo forest and you actually see the temple entrance when you explore bamboo forest. Since we came to the temple right when it opened, we pretty much had the entire place to ourselves!

The opening hour of Tenjyuri Temple is 8:30 and it closes at 5:00pm. The entrance ticket to the garden costs ¥500.

The garden itself is very pretty with bamboos and ponds and rocks. But if you are interested in visiting the interior of the main building, it’s a separate entrance fee of ¥300. You can either buy the tickets at the entrance of Tenryuji Temple or the entrance of the building inside.

Is it worth to visit the building in Tenryuji Temple? I would highly recommend visiting the interior of the building if you have never seen a Japanese palace or traditional building.

Togetsu-kyo Bridge (渡月橋)

Togetsuk-kyo bridge in Arashiyama with foliage

The Togetsu-kyo Bridge is the symbol of Kyoto and it is located in the center of Arashiyama.

The bridge may look like an ordinary wooden bridge, but there is 400 years of history behind it. It is only a few minute walk from the Bamboo Forest and the Tenjyuri Temple.

During Sakura (cherry-blossom) season and foliage peak, tons of people would stand on the bridge to enjoy the view Arashiyama mountain and Katsuna River has to offer.

Even if you are not interested in the bridge itself, to get to the Monkey Park (discussed below), you need to cross this bridge.

Iwatayama Monkey Park

Iwatayama Monkey Park

The Iwatayama Monkey Park is probably one of the best things to do in Arashiyama because you get to see over 120 Japanese macaque monkeys in their natural habitat but you can also get close enough to feed them and take photos of them.

The Monkey Park is located very close to the Togetsukyo Bridge. Once you cross the bridge, there are signs that point to the entrance of the Iwatayama Monkey Park. From the entrance it is about a 20 minute uphill walk to the Monkey Park.

Kimono Forest

Kimono Forest in Arashiyama lit up at night as one of the best things to do in Arashiyama Japan

Kimono Forest is a popular and free installation near the Arashiyama Station on the Randen Tram Line.

This art installation has over 600 backlit cylinder shaped pillars decorated with beautiful Kimono textiles making a path towards the Randen tram station.

The installation was completed in 2013 and it was done to keep tradition while giving it a modern twist. The 600 pillars are covered with 32 different patterns, and the fabric is dyed using traditional Kyo-Yuzen technique.

It is best visited in the dark as the pillars are illuminated by LED lights. But keep in mind that the lights turn off at 9pm so be sure to visit before then and you will be amazed by the magical atmosphere at the Kimono Forest.

Sagano Torokko Sightseeing Train (嵯峨野観光鉄道)

Saga Sightseeing Train in Arashiyama

The Sagano Sightseeing train is one of the most popular attractions in Arashiyama especially during peak cherry blossom and foliage season.

The Sagao Scenic Railway is a 25 minute (7km) scenic train ride along the scenic river between Arashiyama and Kameoka on an old-fashioned train.

You can enjoy the view of the mountains and river and see the changing of scenery during the 25 minute ride.

You can get on the train from Saga Torokko Station (right next to Saga-Arashiyama Station where JR Train Sagano Line stops). Once you reach the final stop at Kameoka Torokko Station you can either take the train back, walking to the nearly Umahori Station (JR train) and take it back to Saga-Arashiyama or take a boat down the river (discussed next).

Book the Sagano Sightseeing Train here.

Hozugawa River Boat Ride

Hozugawa River Boat Ride during peak foliage in Arashiyama Kyoto Japan

Once you get off the Sagano Sightseeing Train at Kameoka Torokko Station, you can find the company that offers rafting on the Hozugawa River and strolling in a horse-drawn carriage.

The Hozugawa River has been around for over 1000 years, used as water transportation since the ancient times.

The boat ride is a 16km (10 miles) ride and takes about 2 hours. This is a great way to enjoy the scenery during all four seasons, seeing the beautiful sakura (cherry blossom) in the spring, the vivid greenery in the summer, vibrant foliage in the fall and snowy scenery in the winter.

There are numerous famous rocks in the river as well as fishing beach, fishing bank, and you can even see Daihikaku Senko-Ji Temple from the boat.

Book the Hozugawa River rafting here.

Nonomiya Shrine (野宮神社)

Nonomiya Shrine in Arashiyama lucky stock turtle stone

Nestled in the bamboo forest in Arashiyama, Nonomiya Shrine is a small Shinto shrine. It has a lengthy history and has appeared in the novel The Tale of Genji and it is said that the shrine provides blessings for marriage. People from all over the world come to Nonomiya Shrine to receive their blessing.

The shrine consists of a main altar and a few sub-shrines in a moss filled garden.

Since it is right next to the bamboo grove, you will definitely see the spot on your way to the bamboo forest.

There is a famous rock called Kame Ishi meaning Turtle Stone (亀石) near the Daikokuten subshrine. Legend has it that if you make a wish while stroking the rock, your wish will be granted within a year.

Jōjakkō-ji Temple (常寂光寺)

Jojakkoji Temple Tahoto Pagoda in Arashiyama during foliage

Jojakkoji Temple is a historical buddhist temple nestled in the the mountains in Arashiyama. It was founded in 1596 and the name of the temple comes from the quiet and beautiful atmosphere and scenery.

It is the most famous place to watch foliage in the fall in Arashiyama.

Visitors will need to climb up the stone steps to the Tahoto Pagoda and enjoy the view that overlooks Kyoto.

It takes about 15 minutes to walk from Saga-Arashiyama station to Jojakko-ji Temple.

Daihikaku Senkoji Temple (千光寺)

Daihikaku Senkoji in Arashiyama

Nestled in the mountainside of Arashiyama, Daihikaku Senkoji is a small buddhist temple that is known as the “best view in Kyoto”.

Located about 20 minutes up the hill from Togetsukyo Bridge, Daihikaku Senkoji Temple is a great place to relax and see the beautiful views of the surrounding area. It is also known for tourists to ring the temple bell for free.

Daikaku-Ji (大覚寺)

Daikakuji Temple in Kyoto

Daikakuji Temple was built in 876 and it was used as an imperial residence during that time. 30 years after the death of Emperor Saga, it was converted to a temple from the imperial villa. It houses many famous painting and wall paintings that has significant cultural value.

The most famous feature at Daikakuji is the Osawa Pond, the oldest man-made pond in Japan with 1200 years of history.

It was modeled after the Dongtei Lake during the Tang dynasty during the Heian period. There are lotus flower, cherry trees and maple trees planted around the pond.

Therefore you can imagine the beautiful scenery all year round at Daikakuji.

Daikakuji is a bit far from the center of Arashiyama. From the Saga-Arashiyama Station, it takes about 15-20 minutes to walk to Daikakuji Temple.

Nisonin Temple (二尊院)

Nisonin Temple in Arashiyama

Nisonin Temple is a small buddhist temple at the foot of Mt. Built. It was built at the request of Emperor Saga.

The temple’s name is derived from the fact that it houses two Heian Period buddhist statues in the main temple hall, which have cultural and historical significance.

The temple was actually destroyed during the Onin War but later were rebuilt. The temple’s cemetery is home to the ashes of many deceased Japanese emperors and nobles.

Nisonin Temple is about a 15 minute walk from Tenryuji Temple. It is best visited during the fall for its foliage scenery.

Saiho-ji Temple (西芳寺)

The moss temple in Arashiyama

Saiho-ji Temple is a small Rinzai sect buddhist temple located about 4km from Saga-Arashiyama Station. It is nicknamed as the Moss Temple.

This small temple is famous for its extensive 35000 square meter moss garden. The garden is a UNESCO’s World Heriaage site and the garden covered with more than 120 types of moss. Once you visit this garden you will truly feel tranquil and relaxed.

You will need a reservation and the reservation must be made with a postcard (yes you need to mail it in). Please visit the Saihoji official website to see how to make a reservation.

Kameyama Park (嵐山公園)

Kameyama Park in Arashiyama

Kameyama Park is a large scenic area near the bamboo grove. It is the perfect place to avoid the crowds in the city.

There are a few observation decks in Kameyama Park, where you can see the view of river, mountains, and even Daihikaku Senkoji Temple.

The area is best visited during cherry blossom or foliage season.

Yusai-tei (嵐山 祐斎亭)

Yusai-tei in Arashiyama with 3 round windows

Yusai-Tei is a beautiful art gallery next to Kameyama Park and it is a popular attraction in Arashiyama if you want to appreciate art and find some peace and quietness.

Yusai-tei is in a 150 year old Meiji-era building which was originally used as a restaurant and in, a place admired by geisha and maiko in Kyoto.

Since the Heian period, it was used as a vacation home for the Japanese nobles. Today it is used as a gallery to show case an unique dyeing technique by artist Yusai Okuda.

The most famous part of Yusai-tei is the round window room, with the view towards the river. It is beautiful all year round and reservation is recommended to visit.

Hot Spring (Onsen)

hot spring onsen in Arashiyama kyoto at night

Arashiyama has some really great day use hot springs for visitors. You don’t need to book a hotel at this onsens, you can just make a reservation and use it after a long day of sightseeing.

Some of the day use hot springs are located a few minutes walk from the train stations in Arashiyama and some are open till 10pm if you are looking for flexibility.

Some of the best day use hot springs (onsen) in Arashiyama include:

Tenzan no Yu (天山の湯): located a few minutes walk from the Arisugawa Station (Randen Tram stop), this thermal hot spring is a hidden gem that is actually rarely used by tourists.

The onsen water comes from 1200 meters below ground. There is indoor and outdoor bath, foot bath, fish therapy, carbonated spring (weekends only), Korean body scrub, massage chairs, etc.

Fufu no Yu (風風の湯): located only 1 minute from the Arashiyama station, Fufu no Yu is a great day use hot spring and opens from noon till 10pm everyday. Due to its proximity to the tourist spots in Arashiyama, Fufu no Yu is frequented by more tourists compare to Tenzan no Yu above.

There are indoor and open air hot spring at Fufu no Yu, as well as Sauna rooms.

It costs ¥1000 to enter and you will need to pay extra to rent towels and other accessories.


Specialty Food in Arashiyama – What to eat in Arashiyama

If you are visiting more than one place in Arashiyama most likely you will be looking for some food or drinks in this beautiful district.

Luckily there are a number of good restaurants and cafes in Arashiyama that you should certainly try. Some of the food are specialty food for this region, so be sure to check them out.

Bitter Citrus/ Yuzu Jelly at Oimatsu

Arashiyama Food

Natsumikan is a Japanese citrus fruit during the summer and there is a store in Arashiyama that sells a chilled Natsumikan jelly.

In this chilled version, a citrus flavored jelly is put inside a Natsumikan peel. It looks like a fruit on the outside but when you bite into the jelly, you can taste the slightly bitter refreshing jelly and I see why it’s so popular during the summer times!

Apparently this is a must-eat food in Arashiyama and I’m not surprised why.

The store we visited was called Oimatsu: 20 Sagatenryuji Susukinobabacho Ukyo-ku Kyoto.

Arashiyama Map

Tofu Meal in Arashiyama

Before I go into this, I have to say that the tofu meal in Arashiyama is probably not for everyone, especially those expecting a meaty meal or a meal full of strong flavors.

From my experience in Japan, most traditional Japanese cuisines do not have strong flavors such as teriyaki sauce over everything as expected from many western countries. However, for those who want to explore something new (and Vegan) in Arashiyama, this is the right place for you.

The best tofu restaurant in Arashiyama is the Saga Tofu Ine, a two story restaurant in front of the Tenryu Shrine.

Tofu Meal in Kyoto Arashiyama

We got there quite early but it got crowded really quickly after we sat down. The restaurant serves several set menus and we picked the two that looked the most interesting to us: The Arashiyama Dish and the Pail Tofu Skin Dish. We picked these two because they offered different side dishes and sauce and it was too hot to pick anything in a boiling pot.

Coming from the US, I was a bit surprised by the “lack” of flavors in the first bite, but I quickly got used to a more natural flavor this meal had brought. It was impressive how everything you see was made out of Tofu, even the desserts.

There are a number of other Tofu restaurants in Arashiyama, such as Shoraian (松籟庵) and Yudofu Sagano (湯豆腐 嵯峨野).

Vegetarian Restaurant in Arashiyama

If you are looking for a vegetarian restaurant in Arashiyama, I highly recommend Shigetsu, a Michielin Guide restaurant in the area.

Shigetsu is located in a Buddhist temple surrounded by the natural beautf of Tenryuji’s World Heritage gardens.

You can order Vegetarian set meals there, which usually come with rice, soup, and various small dishes. Reservation should be made at least one day in advance. You also need to pay ¥500 to enter the garden/temple ground.

Fine Dining Traditional Kaiseki Restaurant in Arashiyama

Kyoto Kitcho is a Michelin Star restaurant in Arashiyama and it is one of the most beautiful and respected restaurant in Japan.

Kitcho was founded in 1930 and the Arashiyama location was opened in 1948 after the war.

The restaurant is located in a private garden and see the mountain and beautiful view. The restaurant is surrounded by nature and it was purposely built that way for the diner to blend with nature.

Food is prepared with the highest quality ingredient and served with seasonal theatrics. This is probably the best meal you will have in the Kyoto area!

Other restaurants in Arashiyama

Soba is something you have to eat at least once in Japan. And if you are craving soba in Arashiyama, you should check out Yoshimura, a popular soba restaurant located near Togetsu-kyo Bridge.

Craving Unagi? You can check out Unagiya Hirokawa, a restaurant known for its Ugani sets. Reservation is highly recommended as this restaurant gets super packed. Another Ugani restaurant you can consider is Nakagawa.

Best Cafes and Dessert Shops in Arashiyama

Craving coffee, tea or something sweet? This Arashiyama guide got you covered!

There are a number of great cafes and dessert shops in Arashiyama that will keep you happy and full.

Shinpachi Chaya is a popular ice cream shop near the Togetsu-kyo Bridge. You can expect traditional Japanese flavors made into gelato.

Arabica Kyoto is a very popular cafe located on the river bank. You need to try the Kyoto latte and drink it outside on a nice day.

eX Cafe is another popular cafe serving coffee, tea and other traditional Japanese sweets and parfait. The interior of the cafe is beautifully decorated with Japanese hand-painted artwork

Bread, Espresso & Arashiyama Garden is an unique coffee shop located in a historical house. They have great bread, dessert and coffee and since it’s a little away from the main street, you can enjoy a more relaxed and quiet atmosphere.

Rilakkuma Tea House is a cute Rilakkuma themed cafe in Arashiyama, even the food is Kuma themed. You can take cute photos and even get crepe there.

Rilakkuma cafe in Arashiyama


Where to stay in Arashiyama

If you are planning to spend more than a day in Arashiyama, you are in luck! There are some nice hotels (including ryokan and hot spring hotels) in Arashiyama that you can stay based on your budget.

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

Arashiyama Benkei hotel in Arashiyama
Benkei

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

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

Hanaikada ryokan in arashiyama
Source: booking.com

Hanaikada is a hot spring (ryokan) hotel about 15 minute walk from the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. This hotel has hot spring bath and a great restaurant offering traditional Japanese meals. Some of the rooms come with Tatami floor and hot spring bath.

Kadensho is a luxury hotel in Arashiyama. Some rooms have Tatami as well as private open-air bath.


Best Japan Travel Booking Sites

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Other Japan Travel Blog Articles By Me

If you are planning to visit other places (such as Tokyo) in Japan, be sure to check out my other Japan travel guides!

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