Arashiyama District

Arashiyama is located in the western outskirts of Kyoto and is just a very pleasant touristy district. We visited the district in late October as its particularly popular during this time of year for the beautiful autumn colours Koyo. The area has been a popular destination since the Heian Period (794-1185), when nobles would enjoy its natural setting. 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. 

Bamboo Grove_1

Also, while in Arashiyama, we took the opportunity to visit the Tentyuji Temple which is the largest temple in the district and very impressive. The temple was first built in 1339 and is ranked the best among the five great Zen temples in Kyoto. It is the most important temple in Arashiyama and is registered as a world heritage site. 

Tentyuji Temple Red Pine
Tentyuji Temple Garden_2

The main reason we visited Tenryuji, was to see it’s stunning garden created by the famous garden designer Muso Soseki, which unlike the temple buildings that have been renovated and rebuilt over the years, the garden survived and is still in its original form. The beautiful landscape garden features a central pond surrounded by rocks, zen gravel, pine trees and the Arashiyama forest mountains in the back ground. It is not a massive garden but is certainly very impressive. There is a small admission fee of 500 yen (approx. £3.50) for the garden and 300 yen (approx. £2.20) for the entry to the additional building…but certainly well worth it!

Tentyuji Temple Garden_3

After a wonderful day in the district we headed back to our hotel and after a quick refresh we headed back out to a lovely Okonomiyaki restaurant which we had researched beforehand and was only a 4 minute walk from the hotel. The restaurant is off the beaten track, which is good as it was nice and quiet this meant we got a front row seat, so we could watch our Okonomiyaki’s being made and cooked, which is interesting in itself. The people running the restaurant were really pleasant and welcoming, as all Japanese restaurants seem to be! The Okonomiyaki’s and a side dish of Gyoza were very nice and certainly filled a hole after another long day walking!  They are well worth a try if you are visiting Japan.

Arashiyama View from Togetsukyo Bridge

Arashiyama is easily accessible from Kyoto Station either by train which takes 15 to 20min or by bus, the main bus terminal is located at Kyoto Station. The centre of the district is the Togetsukyo Bridge, meaning “moon crossing bridge” which is one of the districts most iconic landmarks. It was originally built during the Heian Period (794-1185) and most recently reconstructed in the 1930s. The bridge looks particularly attractive in combination with the forested mountainside in the background. 

When we visited Arashiyama, we went to see its famous Bamboo Groves, which the area is well known for… the paths cut through the bamboo groves making it a really nice walk, the bamboo is massive and the grove is quite impressive. The groves are particularly attractive when there is a light wind as the tall bamboo stalks sway gently back and forth. 

Tentyuji Temple
Tentyuji Temple Garden_1
Tentyuji Temple Garden_5

Please find our other Kyoto articles in the 'Kyoto' section of the website.

Tentyuji Temple Garden