On the outskirts of Kyoto is the beautiful Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. If you have researched travel to Japan, you have probably seen many stunning photos of this forest. When I saw these photos, I knew we needed to see it on our trip to Japan. Although, I had difficulty finding detailed directions to get there. Everything I read seemed to say the same thing…”about a 10 minute walk from the station” and “follow the signs”. Knowing it is a 10 minute walk is helpful, but which direction out of the station? Signs are probably there, in Japanese…but I don’t speak Japanese, and I didn’t see any in English. So, I thought it would be helpful to give you detailed instructions on the way to the bamboo forest.
Take a train to Arashiyama
From Kyoto Station, take the JR Sagano Line. If you have a JR Pass, this trip is free. Take the JR line to the Saga-Arashiyama stop. Exit the station using the South Exit (follow the exit marked Tenryu-ji Temple).
Follow the path
As you exit the station, there is a wall directly in front of you (men offering rickshaw tours will probably be standing there ready to offer you a ride). Once you reach this wall, turn right and walk down the path (Picture A).
Keep following this path as it winds through traditional Japanese houses (picture B & C). It is a pleasant walk. When you come to the intersection (Photo D), veer left following the direction that reads BAMBOO (Yay! Our first clue that we were going in the right direction).
Turn Right at the Food
When you arrive at the next intersection, take a left (Photo E). You will see food stalls up ahead on your right (photo F). Take this right, with the food stalls to your right (Picture G).
Shortly past these food shops you will pass the Tenryu-Ji Temple (which is a UNESCO World heritage sight) on your left and you will start seeing the bamboo forest ahead of you.
The Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
The first part of the grove is sparse, but not as busy with people and it is easier here to take photos. Keep following the crowd and you will eventually veer to the left into the main part of the bamboo forest (if you veer right, you will enter a small village, we didn’t go in this area, but I’ve read that it is interesting).
This area is very crowded, but try to take in the majesty of the tall, dense forest.
Visit the Japanese Garden at the end of the Bamboo Forest
For real serenity, visit the traditional Japanese garden at the end of the bamboo path. Pay a small entrance fee to see the Villa and Garden of Okochi Sanso, a popular Japanese actor and his unrivaled gardens. On the day we visited, the bamboo path was extremely crowded. But, the Japanese garden was not very crowded and was very beautiful. You purchase a ticket at the entrance, which includes a ticket for tea and a treat at the teahouse within the garden. The paths meander through the garden that has interest throughout every season. We visited in the fall and the maple trees were simply gorgeous. Small signs point you in the right direction along pebble and stone paths. Meticulously manicured trees and shrubs intertwine with statuary.
Enjoy the Food
On our way back from the bamboo forest, we stopped at these food stalls for some snacks. The pork bun from this shop was delicious!