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One day in Arashiyama, Japan Review

One day in Arashiyama, Japan Review

I’d visited Arashiyama before but didn’t get to explore the area properly because I went when everything was closed and the sky was darkening, so I was looking forward to seeing the place during normal tourist hours on a beautiful crisp Wednesday morning.

One day in Arashiyama
Beautiful Wednesday morning

Wedding Photography

First thing I noticed? This place was really popular for wedding photos.

They were just hanging around meters apart…

One day in Arashiyama

Staring dramatically downwards at the dirt…

One day in Arashiyama
Beautiful dirt

Touching each other’s butts…

One day in Arashiyama
Totally PG touching

Laughing so gosh darn naturally…

One day in Arashiyama
Laughing…and laughing…

I was almost tripping over these couples!

One day in Arashiyama
Another couple

I could see why this was a popular area though as the scenery was remarkable with greenery, hills and water surrounding you and the view of the beautiful Togetsukyo Bridge.

One day in Arashiyama
One day in Arashiyama
One day in Arashiyama
Togetsukyo Bridge
One day in Arashiyama
View from Bridge
One day in Arashiyama
Mountains from bridge

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

We walked from Hankyu Arashiyama station towards the bamboo forest, pausing by Randen Arashiyama station to take snaps of the kimono pillars placed throughout the station. There was a path of colourful material passing the pond of the dragon and a foot spa.

One day in Arashiyama
Randen Arashiyama Station
One day in Arashiyama
Kimono Forest

It was certainly a different experience from the famous bamboo forest.

The place was packed!It felt like we were in an unstoppable human train that wouldn’t stop for fear of being whipped in the face with a selfie stick.

There were a few quieter spots but nowhere fully remote…

The crowds didn’t manage to stop a particular couple who were determined to take the perfect wedding snaps damn it.

Nothing will stop them

The only photos I took without people in it were close ups, extremely cropped or pointed towards the sky and I definitely had a much more sedate time during my last visit. The bamboo forest was very pretty, but definitely missing the calming vibe you would expect from years of Japanese advertisements.

Okochi-Sanso Garden

I had a lot of plans for Arashiyama but ended up skipping out on Tenryuji temple because we had officially templed out by the second week of our trip. I chose to try peering around the entrance area, but this was the kind of temple that could afford a very long pathway to its main entrance and I saw only grass and people. We also ultimately missed out on the monkey park as there was no time by the end of the day.

We opted to go to a top item on my list instead: the Okochi-Sanso Villa which had belonged to the actor Okochi Denjiro. It combined two of my favourite things in the world: the chance to nose around someone else’s property and the promise of snacks.One day in Arashiyama    One day in Arashiyama

We stumped up the hefty 1,000.00 JPY / 6.36 GBP entrance fee and wandered inside. In reality this was very little but I was spoilt by Japan’s low entrance fees to everything by then (bar Naoshima Island).One day in Arashiyama

The garden was meticulously looked after and had a well planned pathway winding throughout.The path took us past a shrine…One day in Arashiyama
One day in Arashiyama
One day in ArashiyamaOne day in ArashiyamaThe villa…

A beautiful viewpoint…


Before winding up outside the tea house.

At the tea house we collected our ration of green tea and a small snack that came with our ticket.

We then had a look at what I can only describe as a shrine to Okochi Sanso and his most famous movie roles. This was definitely the emptiest part of the whole area, but it was interesting to see just how many roles there were in 20th century Japan for one eyed samurais.

It was also a bit odd to see images of Sanso in all his one eyed glory next to ones of him in his neat suit and glasses.

The high entrance fee definitely made the experience better as we were able to enjoy the whole area in peace when in comparison to the fully packed bamboo grove. There were minimal people and this really added to the experience when we were in the viewpoint spots surrounded by mountains or enjoying our tea and snack in the tea-house.

Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple

The last spot we visited was the Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple, famous for its statues, which was quite out of the way from the popular Arashiyama sights. I chose to combine the temple with walking through the preserved street of Saga Toriimoto which sounded more significant than it was in reality. I was tricked by the name and google images, but Saga Toriimoto was actually very compact and quiet with the only viewpoint being a red gate. It was perfectly pleasant if you didn’t have the expectations that I did; it also contained possibly the cheapest vending machine in Japan.

Thankfully Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple was much more impressive and true to advertisements than Saga Toriimoto. The entrance fee was a very reasonable 300.00 JPY / 1.91 GBP and due to its remote location there were no crowds and the quiet temple atmosphere was preserved.

One day in Arashiyama
Moss covered path
One day in Arashiyama
View towards ticket counter
One day in Arashiyama
Rakan statues
One day in Arashiyama
Cute pathway
One day in Arashiyama
Looking towards the main hall
Kokuzo Bosatsu statue
One day in Arashiyama
Rakan statues radiating from the pagoda

The shrine in its current location was built in 1922 and its famous statues were a newer addition donated in the 80s and 90s. There were over 1000 statues each with its own whimsical style as they were all carved by different people.

One day in Arashiyama
Laughing and laughing…
One day in Arashiyama
Camera man
One day in Arashiyama
Angry boxer
One day in Arashiyama
Cool shades
One day in Arashiyama
Japanese Elvis

It was a very charming and photogenic shrine and I took far too many shots of the statues.

We ended the day back in the main street towards the station area. Arashiyama was very pretty and, outside of the busy tourist areas, had a chilled atmosphere with its natural surroundings. The bamboo forest and main streets may be crowded but they are worth visiting at least once and both the Okochi-Sanso Villa and Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple offer a nice moment of calm. Arashiyama is a great place to visit if you are looking for something a bit different in Kyoto.


Arashiyama Bamboo Grove/嵯峨野 竹林の小径 

Website: https://www.insidekyoto.com/arashiyama-bamboo-grove

Address: Sagatenryuji Tateishicho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-8375, Japan/〒616-8375 京都府京都市右京区嵯峨天龍寺立石町

Opening hours: No closing hours

Cost: Free

Okochi-Sanso Garden

Website: https://ja.kyoto.travel/tourism/single02.php?category_id=8&tourism_id=693

Address: 8 Sagaogurayama Tabuchiyamacho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-8394, Japan/〒616-8394 京都府京都市右京区嵯峨小倉山田淵山町8

Opening hours: 09:00 – 17:00

Cost: Adults 1,000.00 JPY / 6.36 GBP , Children 500.00 JPY / 3.18 GBP

Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple

Website: https://www.otagiji.com/

Address: 2-5 Sagatoriimoto Fukatanicho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-8439, Japan/〒616-8439 京都府京都市右京区嵯峨鳥居本深谷町2−5

Opening hours: 08:00 – 17:00

Cost: 300.00 JPY / 1.91 GBP (Under 15 free)

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