If you’re thinking of doing something a little different from the typical city sightseeing when visiting Kyoto then make your way to the Arashiyama Bamboo Groves. Located in the far west of Kyoto, the Bamboo Groves are like no other forest you’ve ever seen. With tall stalks stretching upwards to the sky and lining pathways for as far as the eye can see, it’s no wonder this is one of the best walking paths in all of Japan!
Japanese culture is known for its long history with bamboo which has also been used in the manufacturing industry all throughout Japan to produce baskets, cups, chopsticks, boxes and mats. Many of these can be bought from the many small shops lining Arashiyama’s main street. In fact, there are many myths and legends that actually link the strength of a man with that of this sacred plant.
The best time to visit the bamboo groves is when there is lots of light to light up the pathway and a slight wind to sway the stalks back and forth creating an almost surreal atmosphere. If you get here a little later on, it can get quite eerie!
If walking is not your thing, you’ll also find many bicycle rental shops near the Hankyu Arashiyama Station and a small rental shop in the forest itself if you feel like cycling along the pathway instead. While inside the forest you will see many available rickshaws for rent. If you’re feeling a little adventurous why not take a ride on one of these high risers for somewhere for between 5000 – 7000 yen.
Keep walking along the pathway until you come to the rail lines. If you’re one for photo’s then this is one of the best spots to get a postcard perfect travel photo but be mindful that the tracks are still in use. If you see red lights flashing and hear the dong’s signalling an approaching train then clear off those tracks as fast as you can.
The Bamboo Grove pathway is a straight walk and while opinions may vary, the most beautiful spot is said to be just past the Tenryuji Temple. Here the bamboo stalks grow a little further apart from each other and are much thicker.
Somewhere along the way we made a turn and wandered a little off the beaten path into a quiet residential area.
Exploring the quaint and peaceful side of Japanese living was just as exciting with the perfectly pruned trees, clear skies and the mountains in the background.
How to get to the Bamboo Forest:
Route 1: From Kyoto Station, take the JR Sagano/San-in Main Line to Saga-Arashiyama Station. This is a 15 minute train ride. Then walk for about 10 minutes till you reach the Bamboo Groves.
Route 2: Take the Hankyu Main Line from Kyoto Station to Katsura Station. This is a 20 minute train ride. Transfer to the Hankyu Arashiyama Line and walk for about 15 minutes till you reach the Bamboo Groves.
Take the Kyoto City Bus (Number 28) from Kyoto Station Bus Terminal to Arashiyama-Tenryuji-mae Bus Stop. This is a thirty minute bus ride.