I think the best way to recap our travels in Japan is to split of up my posts into “places I visited” – since we did do many touristy things. If I split them in to days, there may be far too many pictures to post and my computer and your brains may explode. So, to counter that effect, today I’ll be covering our small trip to Arashiyama (嵐山) – a pleasant, touristy district in the western outskirts of Kyoto.
There are so many attractions packed into 嵐山 – and to be completely honest, we didn’t really think through too much what we were going to do – I had complete forgotten about all the astonishing temples in the area – I had my mind completely focused on one of the main attractions of the area – the local bamboo groves.
As you can probably tell by the multitudes of photos that I have of the bamboo groves, I loved them dearly. That had a lovely romantic feel about them – and we managed to arrive at a particularly warm (but not too warm) day – so the sun was filtering wonderfully through the groves and the tall stalks swayed dreamily in the light breeze. The bamboo from these groves and the surrounding area have been used to manufacture nifty products – like baskets, cups, boxes and mats at local workshops for centuries.
Coming down off the end of the bamboo groves, we ended up going through the gardens that surround the area and eventually arrived at the river. At this point we didn’t know that the Togetsukyo Bridge was Arashiyama’s most well known, central landmark. Nope. Talk about Google-Fail. In any case, we thought we had better take a look at this “bridge” that the track signs all pointed to. Along the way, we enjoyed the incredibly scenery that the Hozu river afforded and waved gleefully at the passing boats.
Eventually (we walk really slowly), we got to the Togetsukyo Bridge – which was originally built during the Heian Period (794-1185) and most recently reconstructed in the 1930s. Togetsu means “moon crossing” – and this bridge was so named by Emperor Kameyama because of the resemblance to that phenomenon. Of course, not knowing this at the time (as noted previously) and unwilling to walk across it, we admired it for a short while and then headed back up to the main area.
Like many places in Japan, 嵐山 is the owner of many good eats. Unfortunately, we were both still full from breakfast and it was only late morning when we headed back up towards the station. As a substitute for a sit-down meal, we passed a popular looking stall selling delicious-looking fish-paste on sticks in a variety of tastes at only 200 yen a pop. Um, yes please. Yum yum!
Unfortunately, we didn’t check out some of the famous shrines and temples in the area – I would of loved to have checked out the Tenryuji Temple – which is ranked among Kyoto’s five great Zen temples and is one of Kyoto’s many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Ugh, if only I had Googled throughly!
The fastest way to get to Arashiyama from Kyoto is by Japan Railway (JR) Sagano Line (also known as JR Sanin Line). The one way ride to Saga-Arashiyama Station takes 15 minutes and costs 230 yen. From Saga-Arashiyama Station, central Arashiyama can be reached in a 5-10 minute walk. Admittedly, we got a little confused and headed to the bamboo forests first as opposed to the town area – so we did the tourist path a little “backwards”.
Alternatively, you can take the Keifuku Arashiyama Line (but you’ll need to transfer trains and it takes 20-30 minutes) or the Hankyuu Main Line (to Katsura Station) and then switch to the Hankyuu Arashiyama Line for Arashiyama (about 20 minutes).