During my summer holidays I spent a week in Kyoto with my friend. On the trip we discovered what is now one of my absolute favourite places, Arashiyama. The kanji in Arashiyama (嵐山) means storm mountain. The river Ōi runs through this beautiful place nestled in the mountains making for some gorgeous scenery. We had only intended to spend a couple of hours there to visit the famous bamboo forest, instead we chose to spend the whole day exploring the local sights. I only wish now we had more time.

imageAfter arriving at the station we walked through a small park and across the bridge towards the bamboo forest. On the way we spotted a small shack and a lot of traditional boats. They were offering inexpensive guided cruises up the river, so of course, we couldn’t say no! A man took the two of us on a private tour up the river in a long wooden boat. We sat on the tatami mat under a small roof as the man steered the boat with a long bamboo pole and told us about the area and its history. The view was beautiful and the experience was amazing. It was more than worth the money we spent.

imageAfter this we walked through a park towards the forest. The man on the boat recommended we go this way rather than taking the roads. It took a little longer but it was a lot nicer. There was a single path winding through the tall bamboo. There were a lot of tourists which was to be expected. It would have been nice if it were a little more peaceful however this did not tarnish it’s beauty. It was an atmospheric little journey in our adventures.

imageThe forest path led us right to the entrance of Tenryuu-ji (meaning sky dragon temple). We spent well over an hour wandering through the gardens and the rooms of the temple and on the way out we passed through the Sky Dragon Hall. Inside the hall were beautiful decorations and artefacts and on the roof was a giant painting of the sky dragon who is said to watch over the temple grounds.

imageOn our way back we stopped by the river to cool off. It was an incredibly hot day so we decided to take a break from our walking and take in the views. The water was only ankle deep so we waded through the shallows. This turned out to be not such a good idea as we were ushered out by the police along with the other tourists. I don’t regret it at all though.

imageOur final stop of the day was to the popular Monkey Park. To get to the park we had to hike up the side of the mountain, which, considering the hot and humid weather, was not fun. Beautiful but not fun. When we reached the top we were greeted by the most stunning view of Kyoto and a troop of sweet (and excitable) Japanese Macaques. Seeing the gorgeous mountain habitat of the monkeys and the view from it was certainly worth the long hike to get there. We stayed for a little while to interact with the monkeys and enjoy the scenery before heading back for the night.

Whilst I got to see most of the main attractions in Arashiyama I would have happily spent days there wandering the little streets and enjoying the views. It is an absolutely stunning area and one of my favourite places in Japan if not the world. I urge you to go if you ever get the opportunity and I hope you will love it as much as I do!