Japan · Arashiyama
Arashiyama (嵐山, Storm Mountain) is the second-most important sightseeing district in Kyoto. It is in the far west of Kyoto, tucked along the base of the Arashiyama Mountains. It is right by the Ōi River and flush against the mountains that encircle the city.
Arashiyama has been a popular destination since the Heian Period (794-1185), when nobles would enjoy its natural setting. It is particularly popular during the cherry blossom and fall color seasons. During the summer months, traditional cormorant fishing is practiced on the Hozu River for tourists to watch. Another good time to visit is during December’s Hanatoro illumination, when lanterns line the streets and bamboo groves. It is best known for Tenryuji Temple, the Oi river, Togetsukyo Bridge, the Sagano Romantic (“Torokko”) Train, as a wonderful place to stroll, and for the Iwatayama Monkey Park. The “Moon Crossing Bridge” (渡月橋, Togetsukyō) is notable for its views of cherry blossoms and autumn colors on the slopes of Arashiyama.
The bamboo groves is also one of the top attraction. Walking into this extensive bamboo grove is like entering another world – the thick green bamboo stalks seem to continue endlessly in every direction and there’s a strange quality to the light. You will be unable to resist trying to take a few photos, but you might be disappointed with the results: photos just can’t capture the magic of this place.
North of central Arashiyama the atmosphere becomes less touristy and more rural, with several small temples scattered along the base of the wooded mountains. The area north of the Togetsukyo Bridge is also known as Sagano, while the name “Arashiyama” technically just refers to the mountains on the southern bank of the river but is commonly used to name the entire district.
One of the most enjoyable and convenient ways to travel around the Sagano area is by rental bicycle. Cycling through rural residential areas and past fields while traveling between temples can be one of the most enjoyable parts of a visit to Arashiyama. There is also an attractive preserved town area near the Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple.