Exploring the hidden nature of Arashiyama
Located at the foothills of Kyoto’s western mountain range, Arashiyama is a district well-known for its breath-taking natural beauty. A beloved rest and relaxation destination of the Japanese nobility for hundreds of years, this area’s scenic landscape still entices people to this day. However, there is much more to this region than the crowded central areas. By taking a step into the surrounding mountains, one can get a closer view of Arashiyama’s beautiful valley scenery, with its magnificent display of maple leaves. There are other options too. Downstream rafting and cycling offer other ways to escape the crowds and enjoy this area’s abundant nature.
- 01 Sagano Romantic Train
- 02 Hozu-gawa river boat ride
- 03 Ranbura Rental Bicycle
- 04 Liquor Merchant Omatto
- 05 Hot spring 'Fu-fu-no-yu'
From Kyoto station:take the JR Sagano line to Saga Arashiyama station. One-minute walk to the starting station of Sagano Romantic Train (20 minutes total)
01Sagano Romantic Train
Just upstream of Arashiyama lies the Hozukyo gorge, a beautiful valley covered with hundreds of maple trees. One of the best ways to enjoy this scenery is by taking the Sagano Romantic Train. This sightseeing train runs along the gorge and though the picturesque countryside between Arashiyama and rural Kameoka city in the west for a distance of about 7 km each way, taking approximately 25 minutes. Each train is made up of four enclosed cars, with Car No. 5 being completely open, offering spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and forested ravine.
Address:<Saga Station (starting station)> Saga-Tenryuji, Kurumamichi-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto
Fares: adults 620 yen, children under 12 310 yen
* The fare is as of August 2019
* Regular (one-way) fares are all the same price, regardless of distance travelled.
Take the Keihan bus from Kameoka station to Hozu-gawa river boat boarding place (12 minutes)
02Hozu-gawa river boat ride
After arriving at Kameoka by the train, you can take a small riverboat down the Hozu-gawa river, taking you back to Arashiyama for more views of this world-famous natural scenery. The 16km boat ride takes about two hours, and leisurely meanders through the beautiful mountains. Watching the boatmen as they skilfully navigate the gorge using bamboo poles is a remarkable sight. Though most of the boat ride is smooth, there are a few rapids that provide some additional thrills along the way. There is also the exhilarating Hozukyo rafting experience available for the more adventurous among you.
Address: <river boat boarding place> 2 Shimonakajima, Hozu-cho, Kameoka
Fare: <River boat ride> adults 4,100yen, children (age 4-12) 2,700 yen * no reservation required, <Rafting :Kameoka-Arashiyama course> 9,000 yen (incl. bath house fees) *Reservations required
03Ranbura Rental Bicycle
In the afternoon, why not rent a bicycle from Arashiyama Station (electric powered bikes are available which make getting around easy) and journey 3 km north to the tranquil village of Okusaga. Here you will encounter a number of historical temples, such as Gioji Temple, with its gorgeous grove of thick green moss and Adashino Nenbutsu-ji Temple and its 8,000 stone statues. A short distance north of Gioji will take you to Saga-Toriimoto, an area designated as one of the four Traditional Structure Conservation Districts within the City of Kyoto. Here you will see traditional tile roofed townhouses, and thatched roofed farmhouses which offer a glimpse into Japan’s architectural past. Click on the links below for our recommended spots in Arashiyama and Okusaga.
Address: 20-2 Sagatenryuji, Tsukurimichi-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto
Open: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (winter 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.) *Rentals until 3:00 p.m.
Price: 3-speed bicycle <Full day> 1,000 yen, <2 hours> 500 yen, Electrical bicycle <Full day> 1,500 yen
10 minutes by bike from Saga-Toriimoto
04Liquor Merchant Omatto
Looking for a perfect souvenir for people back home? Why not stop off at the Omatto a long-established sake shop established 200 years ago that sells a wide variety of Japanese rice wine. Omatto is a famous supplier of sake, and distributes to a large number of breweries all over Kyoto prefecture. The current shop sits in a more than century-old renovated building, and provides the perfect setting for some sake sampling. Sake tasting sets include 3-5 varieties are 1,300 yen (plus tax). For a more thorough analysis, why not take their sake workshop, where you can compare the striking variations in both flavour and aroma from a wider range of rice wines. Through this experience you will be able to notice the differences that arise from the temperature the sake is served at, how long they have been aged and even the specific porcelain they are served in (4,000 yen plus tax) - reservations required.
* Please note: drinking and cycling is prohibited. Please try the sake tasting after returning your bicycle.
Address: 34 Saga-shakado, Daimon-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto
Open: 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
6 minutes by bike
05Hot spring 'Fu-fu-no-yu'
After a long day of taking in Arashiyama’s gorgeous scenery, why not stop off at the hot spring Fu-fu-no-yu. Located near Arashiyama’s Togetsu-kyo Bridge, the mild alkaline natural spring water here helps to soothe muscle and nerve pain. In addition to the refreshing open-air bath, there is a mist sauna for women and also a silky milk bath which will leave your skin feeling soft and smooth. A therapeutic stop-off here is great for a day visit, but do bear in mind you cannot stay overnight.
1 Arashiyama Kamikawara-cho, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto
Open: 12:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. (last entry at 9:30 p.m.)
Open all year round
Entrance Fee: adults <Weekday> 1,000 yen, <Saturday, Sunday and national holiday>1,200 yen, children <age 3-12> 600 yen, <under age 3> 300 yen