On Monday, Russell and I took three trains from our hotel in Osaka, to the small Kyoto town of Arashiyama. When we started researching Japan in the middle of last year, we discovered the Arashiyama Monkey Park. This was our main intention in visiting this town, however due to it being pretty difficult to find, we didn’t end up making it there.
That was okay, though. Because while wandering around the town, we discovered that there was a lot to do in this small country Japanese town! Once we got off the train, we wandered up a hill and came across a beautiful view of the town. I also had my first cherry blossom tree sighting!
There are a few cool things to do in Arashiyama, if you’re thinking of spending a day exploring the town. It’s a beautiful place, with tons of places to relax and enjoy the Japanese countryside.
So, here are four things to do in Arashiyama, Kyoto!
1. Visit the Bamboo Forest
The Bamboo Forest is one of Kyoto’s most popular tourist attractions, and from the moment you step foot into gorgeous grove of bamboo, you’ll see why. If you have been planning a trip to Kyoto, you have probably come across photos of the Bamboo Forest during your research and ‘Japan Bucket List’ note taking. Russell and I knew about the Bamboo Forest months before arriving in Japan, and it was definitely at the top of our list of things to see in Kyoto.
It’s pretty easy to find once you’re in Arashiyama. When you arrive at the Arashiyama Station, walk across the large foot and traffic bridge connecting both sides of the town, and head up the main street. You’ll come across endless shops along the way selling food, souvenirs and even a store where you can get your name engraved on a pair of chopsticks! (I got my name written in Japanese!).
There is one single path that leads through the forest, taking you through the endless amount of Bamboo trees. It’s a place that photos don’t really even do justice. You’ll have to add Arashiyama, Kyoto to your Japan itinerary and see for yourself just how beautiful the Bamboo Forest really is.
2. Bengal Cat Cafe
While exploring the main street in Arashiyama, we came across a Cat Cafe, hidden around a corner away from all of the activity in the centre of town. For 600 yen (around AUD $7 or USD $5) you get to spend half an hour in a very cool cafe filled with beautiful Bengal cats. A lot of them are still kittens, so you’ll find that they are very playful and keen to run around and be a great source of entertainment! You aren’t allowed to pick them up, but you can play with them until your heart is content.
The picture just above, is the kitten that I found myself attached to and would have easily taken home with me if I could! He was sitting by himself for a lot of our time in the Cafe, either cleaning himself or napping. So I sat with him while he let me give him cuddles. The staff member in the Cafe picked up another kitten and put him on my lap, which made me very happy! Russell and I have a cat of our own back home in Australia called Hermione (Harry Potter geeks alert), so being able to cuddle some beautiful Bengal kittens made us very happy!
3. Cherry Blossoms + Views of Arashiyama
Shortly after arriving in Arashiyama, we made our way up a steep hill and came across a beautiful view of the town. Like I mentioned earlier, this was also our first sighting of Cherry Blossom trees! The mountains are so lush and green, you won’t want to leave. Especially with us coming to Japan after spending 4 months in Alice Springs, the desert town in the middle of Australia! Being able to see so many beautiful green mountains was a lovely change of scenery.
4. Temples + Shrines Around Arashiyama
There are tons of temples and shrines scattered around the town of Arashiyama. This is true for the whole of Japan, but it seems that in small towns like this one, there are even more to explore and take beautiful photos of. The first photo below was taken in the same spot as the cherry blossoms, and was almost deserted. We had the view of Arashiyama almost to ourselves.
If you’re planning a trip to Japan, I highly recommend adding Kyoto to your itinerary. You won’t be disappointed, and you’ll be rewarded with some of Japan’s most beautiful scenery.
Tip: If you’re a tourist from a country other than Japan, purchase the Japan Rail Pass. This pass allows visitors to travel throughout Japan for a much cheaper price, as opposed to purchasing tickets separately. The Shinkansen Bullet Train will be your best friend while travelling between cities around Japan, and this pass allows tourists to do so a lot easier! This means you will be able to travel to Kyoto and experience all of these cool places in Arashiyama more conveniently! Cool, huh?!
If you’ve been to Kyoto before, or more specifically, Arashiyama, tell me below! I’d love to know what you thought.
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