If you haven’t been to Arashiyama, you haven’t been to Japan, right? Arashiyama is one of those must visit spots in Japan, with its most famous spot, the Sagano Road Bamboo Forest which is more simply referred to as Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. With sky high bamboo stalks like these, you would have thought that this place was miles away from the city! Really, Arashiyama is only 15 minutes on the ‘Sagano JR Line’ from Kyoto station though when you hop off the train, it really does feel like a quaint little suburb from the past. Much of Kyoto does actually, which is why I love it so much.
Upon arriving at JR Saga-Arashiyama station, simply follow the numerous signs that point you towards the direction of the Bamboo Forest. It’s probably a 5-10 minute walk and so isn’t far at all. The Bamboo Forest area itself is quite small, it is really just one main pathway which is where you see all the iconic images taken. The path isn’t long at all – perhaps a few hundred metres only!
We visited Arashiyama Bamboo Forest in the morning, just before the crowds started heading in. I think we were there around 7:45am? There were already a few photographers hanging about however it was so very quiet and peaceful and made the place all the more magical, to wander through the path and admire the stillness of it all. For the Bamboo Forest itself, you’d only need an hour or less, it really is a tiny place! However, I do recommend you allocate some time to explore the Arashiyama region whilst you are at it. We did a bit of touring with Keiko during our Sweet Escape shoot, but would loved to have visited the area even more if we had the time.
If you can, I would highly recommend getting up early to visit Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. There’s nothing like having a busy tourist attraction all to yourself and a few others, especially when it is somewhere like this. The experience is completely different, it is quiet and calm, almost like a scene out of a movie.
Photography: Thomas Debono & I