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Arashiyama: Top 10 Attractions & Must-Eat Street Food (apart from the bamboo grove!)

Arashiyama, a charming gem tucked away on the western side of Kyoto, is where history and natural beauty intertwine. Formerly called Sagano, this delightful district has long been a place of refined leisure for nobles throughout history. It's home to numerous awe-inspiring landscapes, including the iconic bamboo grove and the enchanting Togetsukyo Bridge. Let's take a look at our picks of the best things to do in Arashiyama, Kyoto for an unforgettable day trip.

   1 Day Itinerary in Arashiyama

  • Morning | Enjoy a serene stroll through Arashiyama's iconic bamboo grove, followed by a visit to the UNESCO-listed Tenryū-ji Temple and its enchanting Sogenchi Garden.

  • Afternoon | Delight in a culinary experience with a tofu course or street food along the main shopping street. Take a leisurely walk along the picturesque Katsura River, then hop on the Sagano Romantic Train for a scenic journey through the captivating valley.

   How to get to Arashiyama

  • JR (Recommended!): Depart from Kyoto Station for a quick (~15-minute) ride to JR Saga Arashiyama Station. Attractions are conveniently within a 10-minute walk from the station.

  • Randen Tram: Reach the heart of Arashiyama, although multiple transfers are needed for this (~30-minute) journey. Consider getting a 1 Day Pass for unlimited rides on the Randen Tram and subway, providing easy access to popular sites like Ryoanji Temple and Kinkakuji Temple.

  • Hankyu Railway: Depart from downtown's Kawaramachi for a (~20-minute) ride, with a transfer required. The final station is a pleasant 10-15-minute walk to Arashiyama's main sites.

Must-Visit Attractions in Arashiyama

1. Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is a must-visit attraction in Arashiyama. The 400-meter-long pathway, opening 24 hours a day, is surrounded by towering natural bamboo, provides a serene and picturesque setting for photography. As you walk through the bamboo forest, the rustling sound and gentle sunlight filtering through the leaves create a soothing atmosphere. For a more peaceful experience, consider visiting during the early morning or evening.

2. Tenryū-ji Temple

The renowned Tenryū-ji Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is located next to the bamboo forest. This expansive Zen Buddhist temple was built in the 14th century, and one of the highlights is undoubtedly the exquisite Sogenchi Garden, which retains the original design created by the master gardener Muso Soseki 700 years ago. The garden's pond reflects the beauty of maple trees and various plants, creating a breathtaking and ever-changing vista throughout the year.

3. Katsura River

When you are in Arashiyama, it's a must a stroll along the scenic banks of the Katsura River to soak in the breathtaking views. Enjoy the tranquil river setting with majestic mountains as a backdrop. For a more immersive experience, consider renting a boat or joining a boat tour to fully appreciate the natural beauty of Arashiyama.

4. Togetsukyo Bridge

Togetsukyo Bridge, completed in 1934, is a prominent landmark spanning the Katsura River. While its appearance may resemble that of a wooden bridge, it is primarily constructed using concrete, with the exception of the parapets.

From the bridge, you can bask in the breathtaking vistas that showcase the ever-changing beauty of Arashiyama throughout the seasons.

5. Sagano Romantic Train

The 30-minute Sagano Romantic Train is another great way to take in breathtaking views of the Arashiyama region. The train operates hourly from around 9am to 5pm between Torokko Saga (next to JR Saga-Arashiyama station) and Torokko Kameoka station (10-min walk from JR Umahori station), running mostly along the scenic Hozu River and Hozu Valley. Due to its popularity, especially during autumn, it is advisable to reserve your seat in advance through online travel sites. ( Price Reference: KKday / Klook )

6. Arashiyama Main Street

The charming Nagatsuji-dori is the main street of the Arashiyama. As you make your way to the bamboo forest and Togetsukyo Bridge, you'll encounter numerous restaurants, souvenir shops, and kimono rental stores. Indulge in an array of delectable street food options, including the famous deep-fried Yuba cheese and delightful tofu ice cream.

7. Onsen Ryokans

Arashiyama is one of the few areas in Kyoto blessed with natural hot springs, which are known for their simple weak alkaline properties, offering potential relief for joint pain, neuralgia, muscle aches, and frozen shoulder.

Unwind and rejuvenate at one of Arashiyama's prestigious onsen ryokans, such as Kadensho and Togetsutei Hotel, and embrace the tranquil environment and savor the serenity once the crowds have dispersed.

   Must-Try Food in Arashiyama

1. Tofu Course

Arashiyama's local specialty is undoubtedly tofu and yuba (tofu skin), and there are numerous restaurants specializing in tofu dishes. One highly recommended option is Toufuryouri Matsugae, located in a century-old wooden house that was once the residence of a Japanese painter.

Here, you can indulge in a full tofu course, featuring dishes such as Yudofu (boiled tofu) served with buckwheat flour soba tofu and Uji matcha matcha tofu. The meal also includes a variety of flavorful tofu and yuba-based side dishes.

2. Yuba Cheese

Yuba Cheese is a popular deep-fried tofu snack made with fish paste and wrapped in tofu skin. You can find this treat at Yoshiya and Yuba Cheese Honpo, located near Togetsukyo Bridge. Enjoy the delightful combination of crunchy and chewy textures in this mouthwatering snack.

3. Tofu Ice-cream

Another street food to try out is the extra-thick and flavourful ice cream at Kyozuan. This specialty shop focuses on tofu and matcha-flavored ice cream, known for their extra-thick texture. The ice cream is so dense that it can be held upside-down without falling. The staff at Kyozuan even demonstrate this impressive feat when serving the ice cream to customers, adding a touch of fun and excitement to the experience.

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