Kyoto (Western)

Arashiyama and Sagano

Arashiyama is a pleasant, touristy district at the outskirts of Kyoto. Its landmark is the wooden (now partially concrete) Togetsukyo Bridge with forested Mount Arashiyama as backdrop.

There are many things to see and do in the Arashiyama area. Tenryuji, a leading Zen temple, shops, cafes and restaurants are found in the district's busy center around Togetsukyo Bridge and Keifuku Arashiyama Station.

North of the central area, there are bamboo groves and a residential district with several small temples, scattered along the base of the wooded mountains. The area with its rural feel is best explored on foot, by rental bicycle (around 700 Yen per day) or on a rickshaw (around 8000 Yen for 30 minutes and 2 persons).

Another pleasant thing to do is taking a two hour boat tour down Hozu River. The river flows through an idyllic, forested valley before reaching urban Kyoto at the Togetsukyo Bridge. Alternatively, you can enjoy views of the valley from the Sagano Romantic Train.

Arashiyama is particularly beautiful and busy during the cherry blossom and autumn leaf seasons.

Togetsukyo Bridge
Literally meaning "Crossing Moon Bridge", Togetsukyo with Mt. Arashiyama as backdrop is the symbol of Arashiyama. Riverside parks provide space for a pleasant break and great cherry blossom viewing in early April. In November, autumn colors are spectacular.

Tenryuji Temple
Tenryuji, located in the center of Arashiyama, was built in 1339 and has been ranked first among Kyoto's "Five Great Zen Temples". It is famous for its landscape garden, which unlike the temple buildings has survived in its original form.
Open daily 8:30 to 17:30 (until 17:00 from November through March). Admission: 500 Yen.

Bamboo Groves
Bamboo groves are found behind Tenryuji Temple and along the trail to the Okochi Sanso. The bamboo is still used to manufacture various products, such as baskets, cups, boxes, mats and pieces of art at workshops in the Arashiyama area.

Okochi Sanso
Okochi Sanso is a villa complex built by Okochi Denjiro (1898-1962), a Japanese movie star of past decades. The spacious complex consists of several buildings (to be viewed from the outside only) and beautiful gardens with nice views over Kyoto.
Open daily 9:00 to 17:00. Admission: 1000 Yen. Admission includes a matcha green tea and Japanese snack

Small Temples
Several small, atmospheric temples are scattered north of the JR railway tracks along the base of the wooded mountains, including Jojakkoji, Nisonin and Gioji. Also found in the area, Rakushisha is the former residence of Kyorai Mukai, an 18th century poet.
The small temples and Rakushisha are open daily from around 9:00 to around 17:00. Admission is typically about 200 to 400 Yen.

Monkey Park Iwatayama
Wild monkeys, which are living in the wooded mountains of Arashiyama, can be observed at Monkey Park Iwatayama. The park is a steep 15-20 minute walk up the mountain from Togetsukyo Bridge and, besides the monkeys, offers nice views over Kyoto.
Open daily from 9:00 to 17:00 (until 16:00 from November to mid March), except on days with heavy rain or snow. Admission: 520 Yen.

Hozu River Boat Tours
Boat tours down Hozu River from Kameoka to Arashiyama take roughly two hours, leading through a picturesque canyon and over some rapids. The boats seat about 20 people and are powered by three boatmen with poles and oars.
Boats depart daily between 9:00 and 15:30 (between 10:00 and 14:30 from December to mid March), except from December 29 to January 4. Cost: 3900 Yen per person. The departure pier in Kameoka can be reached either by Sagano Romantic Train (15 minutes by bus from Torokko Kameoka Station) or by JR Sagano Line (10 minute walk from JR Kameoka Station).

Sagano Romantic Train
The Sagano Romantic Train (Sagano Torokko Ressha) closely follows the course of the Hozu River through the idyllic canyon from Arashiyama to Kameoka. Open cars are used when the weather permits. The train ride is commonly combined with a boat ride down the river.
The one way journey from Torokko Saga Station (same building as JR Saga-Arashiyama Station) to Torokko Kameoka Station takes approximately 25 minutes and costs 600 Yen. The train operates from March 1 to December 29, except on Wednesdays (trains also operate on Wednesdays during spring and summer school holidays, the Golden Week, the autumn leaf season and when a national holiday falls on a Wednesday).

F By Japan Railways (JR)
The fastest access from Kyoto Station to Arashiyama is provided by the JR Sagano Line (also known as JR Sanin Line). The one way ride from Kyoto Station to Saga-Arashiyama Station takes 15 minutes and costs 230 Yen.
From Saga-Arashiyama Station, central Arashiyama can be reached in a 5-10 minute walk.

F By Keifuku Railways
The small trains on the Keifuku Arashiyama Line connect Arashiyama with Omiya Station in central Kyoto (20 minutes, 200 Yen). Omiya Station is located at the intersection of Shijo Street and Omiya Street.
Keifuku Railways also provides access to Kitanohakubaicho Station in northern Kyoto, not far from Kinkakuji, Ryoanji and Ninnaji Temples (20-30 minutes, 200 Yen). One transfer of trains is required along the way.
Keifuku Arashiyama Station is located in the very center of Arashiyama.

F By Hankyu Railways
From Kawaramachi or Karasuma Station in central Kyoto (Shijo Street), take the Hankyu Main Line to Katsura Station and transfer to the Hankyu Arashiyama Line for Arashiyama. The one way trip takes about 20 minutes and costs 220 Yen.
Hankyu Arashiyama Station is located on the opposite side of the river, about a 5-10 minute walk from central Arashiyama.

F By Bus
Bus lines connect Arashiyama with several parts of Kyoto, however, it is recommended to access Arashiyama by train to avoid the risk of getting stuck in traffic jams.

Tenryuji

Tenryuji is a Zen temple in the Arashiyama area of Kyoto. It has been ranked first among the city's "Five Great Zen Temples".

The temple was established in 1339, and like many other temples burnt down several times over its history. The current buildings date from the Meiji Period. Muso Soseki, the temple's founding abbot and famous garden designer, created Tenryuji's landscape garden which, unlike the temple buildings, survived the many fires and is considered one of the oldest of its kind.

Tenryuji has been designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1995.

F Tenryuji is just a few steps from the Keifuku Arashiyama terminal station. The small Keifuku trains connect Arashiyama with the Ryoanji/Kinkakuji area and Shijo-dori.
The JR Saga-Arashiyama Station is a 5 minute walk from Tenryuji and is served by the JR Sagano Line (San-in Line) with frequent trains that take about 15 minutes to Kyoto Station.

Katsura Imperial Villa

Katsura Imperial Villa (Katsura Rikyu) is one of the finest examples of purely Japanese architecture and garden design. The villa and garden in their present form were completed in 1645 as the residence for the Katsura Family, members of Japan's Imperial Family.

F The villa can be viewed only on tours held by the Imperial Household Agency. Several tours are held daily on weekdays and on some Saturdays. They last about one hour and are in Japanese only.
The actual villa is located in western Kyoto. From the Imperial Palace or Kyoto Station, take the Karasuma Subway Line to Shijo Station and transfer to the Hankyu Kyoto Line to Katsura Station. From the station, it is a 15 minute walk to the villa.
From Kyoto Station, there is also a direct bus number 33 to the villa. Get off at Katsura Rikyu-mae, from where it is a 5 minute walk.