#TRAVEL – JAPAN: 3 Things to do in Arashiyama

Japan recognizes Kyoto as a historically significant and scenic region. Many travel articles you read encourage you to visit the area if you have the chance!

Arashiyama, which is nestled away in western Kyoto, has everything one could desire from Japan: it is breathtakingly beautiful, rich in history, and the peace and quiet is refreshing after a few days in busy Osaka or Tokyo.

I would describe it as typically Japanese, or at least the Japan us westerners imagine when we think of the country.

Pagodas. Geishas. Temples. Shrines.

Arashiyama lies at the foot of the Arashiyama mountain range or ‘Storm Mountains’, you can get there easily by bus or train from Kyoto or Osaka.


One of the most popular things to do in Arashiyama is to visit the Iwatayama Monkey Park, located on the top of Mt. Arashiyama.

The small hike to the park isn’t the easiest, especially with the intense Japanese summer heat, but the experience at the top is worth the slog. There are random electric fans strategically placed along the inclining pathway to provide visitors with some relief—just don’t forget to take water!

Macaque monkeys roam freely on the mountaintop, always on the look out for food! A park attendant sells snacks for the cheeky primates, but feeding them is only permitted through a metal fence.

The stunning surroundings and expansive vista of the countryside below make the short climb worthwhile even if adorable tiny monkeys aren’t your thing.

I would describe the park as similar to the monkey forest in Ubud, Bali, but with a view!


Another popular attraction, and definitely the most photogenic is the bamboo forest.

Walking through thick bamboo groves that tower high above your head does feel off-planet and other-worldly, but the area is extremely crowded.

A google search will bring up unspoiled images of gorgeous greenery and thousands of shooting tall bamboo plants, but, unfortunately, that isn’t the reality. Like most tourist attractions, the bamboo forest is overrun with groups people trying to get the perfect photo for Instagram.

Personally I didn’t find the experience that interesting or as enchanting as I thought it would be, but, as I was already in the area, I don’t regret checking it out. I think a visit during a quieter time would also enhance the forests undoubtedly magical powers.

Weirdly, I also saw my old university professor wandering around the forest, so I could of been distracted by that surreal moment and not appreciating the forest itself.


Whilst wandering around Arashiyama it is impossible not to notice the winding banks of the Hozugawa Kudari river.

From 1606 until the invention of automobiles and railway systems, the river was used by merchants to transport goods, including logs that were used to build some of Japan’s most famous temples and castles.

These days, the boats on the river are used to show tourists the surrounding elegant valleys via calm and rocky waters!

If I returned to Arashiyma, I would make sure I had enough money for one of these boat trips as I truly fell in love with the area and think it would be an experience of a lifetime.

But, as a keen walker, I did find hiking along the river banks nothing short of incredible. There is no shortage of quaint Japanese buildings, mystical green forests and unusual floating vessels to appreciate a long the way.

The best part is that strolling along the waterbanks won’t cost you a penny!

I think it is worth noting that aside from these 3 places of interest, Arashiyama is crammed with local shops, temples, restaurants and coffee places, that are all worth checking out!

Need a place to stay? I’ve teamed up with Hostelworld! Check them out –

Don’t forget your TRAVEL GUIDE


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