Aug. 18, 2017 UPDATE
Ultimate Arashiyama guide for beginners
First time in Arashiyama? Go here!
If it’s your first time in Arashiyama, you have to read this article! Here you have the best way to go to all of the classic sights in Arashiyama, all by one of the most experienced writers of Sharing Kyoto, Erika!
10:00 a.m. Start from Hankyu Arashiyama Station!There are many ways to get to Arashiyama from Kyoto Station or from Kawaramachi, but all of them are convenient! So just make your choice from Hankyu, Randen, and JR. If you use Hankyu or Randen it will take around 30 minutes for you to get there from Kyoto Station, but if you use JR you will get to Saga-Arashiyama Station in around 15 minutes.
Today’s model itinerary takes us to Hankyu Arashiyama Station since that is the place from where it’s easiest to go around the sightseeing spots of Arashiyama in an efficient way. Note that when you take Hankyu you have to change to the train that goes to Arashiyama at Katsura Station.
You are surrounded by nature already at Arashiyama Station!
10:15 p.m. Cross the Togetsu-kyo Bridge!After you walk for around 10-minutes from Hankyu Arashiyama Station, you will get to the Togetsu-kyo Bridge. This bridge is often featured in guidebooks and it is one of the most famous sights in Arashiyama.
Behind it, you can see the grand mountains of Arashiyama and below it the Katsura River. This bridge is really a great place to take pictures. The classic place to take pictures is by the river, like this picture on the left.
From October to November the maple leaves start turning into vivid shades of red and yellow, and the bridge gets ever busier. When the weather is nice you can enjoy the contrast between the blue sky and the colorful autumn leaves.
10:30 Time to see the World Heritage Site of Tenryu-ji Temple!After crossing the Togetsu-kyo Bridge, continue forward and you will see the main street of Arashiyama, lined by many souvenir shops and restaurants. You may be tempted by the many souvenir shops, but some of them are not even open this early, and I strongly suggest you continue on. After some time, you should see Tenryu-ji Temple on your left side.
There are many temples and shrines in the Arashiyama area, but the most famous one has to be Tenryu-ji Temple which was founded almost 700 years ago and is a World Heritage Site.
The temple garden is famous especially for the great views you can see from there. In spring you get to see the cherry blossoms, in summer the green leaves, in autumn the autumn leaves, and in winter the garden covered in snow. The garden is pretty no matter when you visit the temple, so be sure to include this temple in your itinerary!
Tenryu-ji Temple is quite big so it shouldn’t bother you that much, but there are really many people there, as it is a really popular sightseeing destination. Most people visit the temple in the afternoon so I recommend going in the morning!
11:30 Time to have some tofu!Arashiyama is famous for its yudofu, tofu cooked in hot water, so for lunch, I would like to recommend you get some of it!
Sharing Kyoto has two recommendations here, both of them offering yudofu.
Saga Tofu Ine has two restaurants, one by the entrance of the Bamboo Grove, and one close to the gate of Tenryu-ji Temple. They use only the best soy beans for their yuba and yudofu, which both taste great. From the second floor seats you can see the mountains of Arashiama and enjoy the great scenery.
Our second restaurant is Yudofu Sagano which has an incredibly traditional Japanese look. This is a yudofu specialty restaurant and it only offers one menu item: their yudofu course. The price is 3,800 yen which is a not cheap, but I’m sure your culinary experience will be of even greater value. The restaurant also has an inner garden lined by bamboos and the atmosphere is absolutely great.
This ends our first part of our Arashiyama itinerary. The itinerary continues in part two, so be sure to read that too!