Legendary Arashiyama, "Storm Mountain," lies in the foothills of Kyoto’s western boundaries. Take a break from the city and lose yourself in the sound of flowing rivers, indigenous wildlife and the whisperings of an otherworldly bamboo forest.
What to Expect
Arashiyama (Japanese for "Storm Mountain") is a scenic mountain and river range lying to the west of Kyoto. Long famed for its unapologetically dramatic scenery, panoramic landcapes and otherwordly bamboo forests, it is considered by all to be an unmissable location during a visit to Kyoto.
Taking the train from Kyoto’s Central JR station, you'll arrive at Saga-Arashiyama station and walk through the picturesque streets of an old Japanese neighborhood. Arriving in central Arashiyama, walk across Togetsukyo Bridge. Togetsukyo means "Moon Crossing Bridge" in Japanese and was named as such by Emperor Kameyama, for he felt the walk across the bridge echoed the movement of the autumn moon across the night sky. From here, you will see Oi River and Storm Mountain in all of its wondrous, panoramic beauty.
Continue onto the foot of Storm Mountain, and enter the boundary of the Arashiyama Monkey Park. From here, walk on winding paths up the mountain through rich green woodland. Upon arrival at the top, you will be greeted by a breathtaking panoramic view of all of Kyoto and its surrounding mountains. Japanese macaque monkeys stroll around this area freely and can be fed from the safety of a feeding pen.
After following the mountain path downward, take a short walk along the river that cuts through the mountains to arrive at Okochi Mountain Villa. The villa boasts nearly 2km of land, including small shrines, a tea area serving Matcha and Japanese sweets and perfectly manicured Japanese gardens designed to pay homage to Japan’s four perfectly defined seasons. The villa was built for Denjiro Okochi, a famed Japanese actor active in the first half of the century.
After leaving the picturesque villa, walk to the opening of the world-renowned Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. As you walk through the swathes of whispering plants, the light and sound of the outside world will fade away into nothingness. It is often said that the forest cannot be truthfully represented by words or images, so you are invited in fully experiencing this magical grove for yourself.
As you leave the main stretch of the forest, stop at the picturesque Nonomiya Shrine. Ancient and scared, the shrine makes an appearance in "The Tale of Genji" and was a purification ground for young women of the Japanese Imperial family. The sun filters through the trees here, giving the moss gardens a gentle glow.
From here, return through Arashiyama village to Saga-Arashiyama station.
- English-speaking guide
- All public transportation
- Admissions fees of sites listed
What's Not Included
- Entrance fees to sights not listed
- Tips or gratuities for the guide
In front of the main doors of Kyoto Tourist Information Center on the 2nd floor of Kyoto Station