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What to Do in Arashiyama: 8 Best Things to Do in Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama is home to the famous bamboo grove that you see everywhere on social media. But there’s more to Arashiyama. If you’re looking for top sights in the area, this guide highlights the must-visit tourist attractions and top things to do in Arashiyama.

Situated on the western outskirts of Kyoto, Arashiyama is a district popular for its stunning bamboo groves, temples, and scenic beauty.

Arashiyama's story starts in the 7th century with Emperor Kanmu (737-806).  Following his visit, the area gained recognition for its scenic beauty and became a popular retreat for Kyoto residents.

During the Heian period, Arashiyama truly blossomed as a destination for the elite.  The tranquil setting attracted the Japanese imperial family and court nobles who built retreats here.  This period also saw the construction of the first Togetsukyo Bridge, a landmark that remains a central feature of the area today.

The retired Emperor Go-Saga (1220-1272) played a key role in shaping Arashiyama's association with cherry blossoms.  He had several hundred cherry trees transplanted from Mount Yoshino to the area, solidifying its reputation as a must-see during spring.

Over the centuries, Arashiyama has continued to be a place of natural beauty, cultural significance, and artistic inspiration. Efforts are underway to preserve the landscape and cultural treasures that make this district a cherished part of Kyoto's identity.

If you’re looking for the best things to do in Arashiyama, here are our top picks!

1. Visit Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

Without a doubt, this attraction is the most popular attraction in Arashiyama. The towering bamboo stalks create a magical atmosphere, especially on a sunny day when the sunrays pierce through the leaves. There are several paths that wind through the grove, and it's a great place to take photos and relax.

2. Visit Tenryuji Temple

The 14th century saw the establishment of Tenryuji, a Zen temple considered one of Kyoto's five great Zen temples. Dubbed one of the most beautiful in Kyoto, this temple is surrounded by serene gardens. Pay a visit to Tenryuji and enjoy its calm surroundings. Be sure to check out the beautiful Fusuma paintings (sliding doors) and the stunning views from the temple grounds.

3. Catch the Sagano Scenic Train

One of the most popular things to do in Kyoto is to take the Sagano Scenic Train. This slow train ride takes you through the scenic Hozugawa Valley. The train travels through forests and past temples, and it's a great way to see the natural beauty of Arashiyama. I highly recommend it!

4. Take the Hozugawa River Cruise

Another relaxing experience in Arashiyama is the boat ride along Hozugawa River. Enjoy the beautiful scenery of Arashiyama as you take the river. The boat trip takes about an hour and is a great way to see the area from a different perspective.

5. Take a photo of Togetsukyo Bridge

Don’t forget to take a panoramic shot of Togetsukyo Bridge with the mountains of Arashiyama in the background. This iconic bridge spans the Oi River and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. It's a great place to take photos and enjoy the scenery.

6. Visit macaques at Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama

This park is home to over 120 macaques that roam freely on the mountainside. There's an observation platform where you can watch the monkeys play, and there's also a short hike to the top of the mountain for even better views.

7. Go back in time at Okochi Sanso Villa

Get a taste of Kyoto’s past and visit Okochi Sanso Villa. This former villa is now a museum that showcases the traditional architecture and gardens of the Edo period. The gardens are especially beautiful in the fall when the leaves change color.

8. Visit Kimono Forest

This attraction in Arashiyama is quickly becoming a popular spot for photos. The Kimono Forest is a collection of 600 colorful poles that are designed to look like kimonos. It's a great place to take a unique photo and experience a bit of Japanese culture. 


Looking for a fun food tour in Kyoto? Join our local guides for the Nishiki Market Kyoto Food Tour, where we will take you to the best food spots at Nishiki Market and let you feast on various delicious dishes.

Sign up today! Limited slots only.

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