Arashimaya literally means Storm Mountain/ 嵐山, located in the western outskirt of Kyoto. We stayed around Biwako another scenic district which is about 30 km away from Arashimaya. (Half an hour drive by car). If you are driving, always choose to stay outside of the city center, that way you could enjoy a good quality hotel with the same price paid in the city center. Usually, the hotel outskirt offers a more spacious room and better facilities such as free onsen bath.
Star Attractions of Arashimaya – Bamboo Forest
There are few places you could explore in Arashimaya such as Arashimaya Bamboo Grove, Iwatayama Monkey Park, the Moon Crossing Bridge (渡月橋, Togetsukyo), Tenryuji (Zen Buddhism temple) and Daikakuji TempleTenryuji (Zen Buddhism temple). I choose to explore the star attraction of Arashimaya that is the “Bamboo Forest” first as I knew this place is always crowded with people.
Indulge in the Rickshaw Ride
Riding on traditional Japanese rickshaw is one of the most popular activities for tourists in Japan. The puller is dressed in their traditional Japanese outfit and they will explain the history of the places and tell you where to dine and what to eat in this place. They also help to take pictures of you when they reached the best spot for photography. You can experience 30 min, 1 hour or 2-hour ride with them.
You would have a nostalgic cultural experience and feel like you have entered a different time in history. It is most suitable for travelers who are not fit to walk or want to rest your feet or old grandparents.
Arashimya is another good location to try Kimono experience beside Kyomizu Dera, Gion and Nara Park. There are a few plans for you to choose from, such as Furisode (the long sleeves kimono, usually wear by a young lady who is still single.) and the short sleeves kimono. Short sleeves kimono usually cost cheaper and it is not made from silk, starting price at around 3000yen (USD 26.80), while the “Furisode kimono” can cost up to 10,000 yen (USD 89.34) above. All plans including free hairdo make up.
Saga-Arashiyama Area Shopping Street
It is the main street of Arashiyama, always crowded with tourists and human rickshaws. The are is full of restaurants, dessert store and souvenirs for Kyoto.
Signboard showing all the attractions in Arashimaya
The Bamboo Forest
The Bamboo Forest is located behind of Tenryuji Temple. You can follow the crowd if you are unsure as this is the star attraction.
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon “Lookalike” Scene
This Bamboo Forest became so popular after the movie “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” filmed in the Bamboo Forest, but not this Bamboo forest. (I thought the film scene was at Arashimaya bamboo forest! LOL). A kind reader alerted me that the actual filmed scene was taken place in Anhui Province China. Thanks, Brian.
My honest opinion, there is nothing too special about the bamboo forest here. It is supposed to be a peaceful atmosphere in the Bamboo Forest but the crowd gets so huge that I could hardly to get a picture. Having said that on a sunny day you get sunlight streaming through the bamboo which is quite beautiful to view. Other than that, is just people and bamboo. Nothing else.
See what I mean 🙂 People mountain People Sea
- No entrance fees
- Open 24 hours
Arashimaya opens 24 hours so it is best if you could arrive at around 6 or 7 am, that way you could have the whole Bamboo Forest by yourself and experience the calm & peaceful atmosphere here. I arrived pretty at around 10 -11 am but this place is already crowded with lots of tourists.
Honestly, I don’t think the Bamboo Forest is that special at all, overrated. I have seen Bamboo Forest in Korea and China and I think they look prettier than this. Most importantly, fewer crowds!