Arashiyama, including Sagano area, is in the western outskirts of Kyoto, tucked along the base of Arashi Mountains. It has been one of Kyoto’s best picturesque scenery since the Heian Era (8th to 12th century).
As it is selected as one of “Japan’s Top 100 Cherry Blossom Spot”, the area is very famous for cherry blossoms in spring and for tinted Japanese maples in autumn.
The symbol of Arashiyama is called Togetsukyo (Togetsu Bridge), a beautiful quaint bridge over Katsura/Ooi River. This 155 meter long bridge was originally built in between 834 and 847 by a monk at Horinji Temple and was called “Horinjikyo (Horinji Bridge). However 440 years later, retired emperor Kameyama compared the moon moving over the bridge to as it was like the moon crossing the bridge, Togetsukyo meaning “the bridge for the moon to cross” became the official name of the bridge.
Togetsukyo had been burned down and washed away over and over again during its long history. The present bridge was from reconstruction of 1924 and its aesthetic harmony of modern and old-fashioned completed the perfect scenery of present Arashiyama.
One of the most popular attraction of Arashiyama and adjacent Sagano area is visiting many different temples and shrines.
Among all the different temples located in Arashiyama, Tenryuji Temple is the most important of all. It is ranked first among Kyoto’s five great Zen temples and also registered as World Heritage site. In 1339, Tenryuji was built by ruling Shogun, Takauji Ashikaga transforming Kameyama Imperial Villa into a Zen temple in order to comfort the spirit of Godaigo emperor. The temple’s beautiful landscape garden with Arashi Mountain, Kame Mountain, and Ogura Mountain in its background was created by very famous garden designer Soseki Muso. The garden is the first to be designated by government as a place of special scenic beauty.
Tenryuji has its sub-temples located within Arashiyama: Hogonin and Kogenji. Both temples have a beautiful landscape garden with Arashi Mountain in its abackground created by two different descendants of Soseki Muso. And the both gardens are recognized as one of the best spot for viewing cherry blossoms and tinted Japanese maple harmonized into the beautiful gardens.
Horinji is another well -known temple of Arashiyama. It is located in the middle of Arashi Mountain so that it can be seen from Togetsukyo. The name of the temple is often mentioned in Japanese ancient stories like Konjyaku Story, Makuranososhi and Heike Story. It is also a very famous place for Jusan Mairi which is to celebrate a child growth at the age of thirteen and to wish for many more years of wellness and happiness to come.
Most of the temples located in Arashiyama has beautiful scenery with a tinted Japanese maples. But the following three temples are most recognized among of all: Nisonin, Hokyoin, and Gioji
Nisonin enshrines statue of Amitadha Tathagata and Sakyamuni that the temple is called Nisonin (meaning temples with two Loads). The temple’s approach, after solemn gate, is well recognized as a spot for enjoying autumn leaves, it is even called “a riding ground of tinted Japanese maple”.
Hokyoin’s tinted Japanese maple has great reputation as it is always on the topic of season in magazines and television programs.
Gioji is well-known as a convent in ancient Japanese story “Heike Story”. A moss covered garden surrounded by bamboos entertains visitors with beautiful cherry blossoms during spring time and flaming red Japanese maple in autumn.
When visitors walk down the path from Tenryuji to Nomiya shrine, a green tunnel of hundreds and hundreds of bamboos appears. This mysteriously beautiful tunnel often appears in many films and TV programs. The tunnel remains dark with mystic green lights during daytime that make this path even more sacred.
At the end of green tunnel stands a black torii gateway of Nomiya Shrine. This shrine was considered to be very sacred place built at very sacred spot that once upon a time a princess to serve at Ise Grand Shrine on behalf of an emperor stopped by in order to cleanse herself before departure.
Besides walking tour of temples and shrines, visitors can also enjoy Arashiyama’s beautiful scenery by taking Sagano Romantic Trolley Trains. This trolley line runs through mountains and gorge of Arashiyama and Sagno area so an amazing view of whole mountains turning pink with cherry blossoms in spring time and turning red with tinted Japanese maple in autumn can be seen throughout the entire ride. This attraction has become very popular that more than million visitors experience this amazing view of nature every year. The trolly can also take you to the upper stream of Katsura River to take rafting tour of Arashiyama.
Other interesting attraction of Arashiyama is called Arashiyama Monkey Park. It is a monkey paradise located within only 5 minutes of walk from Arashiyama Station. About 150 monkey lives here and after 20 minutes hike from the entrance, visitors get to observatory where some of the monkey playing around. The observatory provides amazing view of city of Kyoto. The monkey can be fed with apples and bananas at its rest area but any outside-food brought by visitors are prohibited to feed them.
On the base of Arashi Mountain and adjacent area of Katsura River, there is a park called Arashiyama Park. The park consists of three area that are Kameyama, Nakanoshima, and Rinsenji. All of the three areas are filled with trees and flowers. Kameyama park area offers walking path to experience the rich nature, Nakanoshima area offers relaxed fishing time at riverside of Katsura River and amazing cherry blossoms during spring. And Rinsenji area offers refreshing scenery of tree-lined path for walking.
After visitors walking around in Arashiyama, they can stop by at Arashiyama Station of Keifuku Railway’s Arashiyama line to heal their sore feet and to get refreshed. The station offers a hot spring bath for feet. It is the great way to end the amazing visit to Arashiyama by dipping feet in hot spring bath and making some friends to share some amazing experience.
[How to get there]
Hankyu Arashiyama Station's
Our WiFi is available in this area.
Feb. 21th, 2015