Bamboo grove, monkeys and gardens; what’s not to love?
Arashiyama is a mountainous area with a wide river running through it, just a twenty minute train ride from downtown Kyoto. There is a small town, the central streets of which are lined with cute souvenir and craft shops and beyond that, many temples. It is also famous for the bamboo grove which is a ten minute walk from the main street.
The bamboo grove is absolutely beautiful. In some places the bamboo grows so thick it feels like you are walking through a natural tunnel. This is a popular tourist spot with local and international visitors so visit early if you want to avoid the crowds.
In amongst the bamboo grove is the entrance to a traditional Japanese garden featuring a large lake and classic architecture. There is an entrance fee and if you are time poor I would recommend giving the garden a miss.
Iwatayama Monkey Park
Across the river, on the mountainside, is Iwatayama Monkey Park. Less of a park and more of a sanctuary, the monkeys are not fenced in but free to roam through the forest. There is a feeding area where the monkeys gather during feeding time but afterwards scamper back up the mountain and into the trees.
It is a steep walk up the mountain to the feeding area, but it’s worth it for both the monkeys and the incredible view over Kyoto. The path is dotted with information about the monkeys and helpful tips such as; don’t try to ride the monkeys or stick a camera in their face (crazy, huh?)
The monkeys are fantastic to watch; running, playing and fighting all around you, sometimes right at your feet! They are very funny, especially when the food comes out.
Arashiyama is a great chance to see a more traditional Japanese town along with some of Japan’s natural beauty. It was definitely a highlight of my trip to Kyoto.