Good Monday! Or should I better say Mon(key)day? Being totally straightforward with you I may need to add a disclaimer here, because I had a problem cutting down the number of pictures in this post due to the Arashiyama monkey park; the fellas were too cute not to include every picture of them!
If monkeys aren’t your thing, don’t worry, you will see here some of the other wonders in Arashiyama, like the riverside, the bamboo forest or the Tenryuji, the most gorgeous temple in Japan during autumn. Ready for this western Kyoto district tour? Let’s ride the Sagano line train!
The train from the JR line that takes you from Kyoto’s center to the western part of Arashiyama has that cool retro vibe that fits so well with Kyoto, a modern train would probably spoil this traditional bubble you are in while visiting Kyoto. Once in the station, a 5 minute walk will take you to the former breathtaking view, not a bad starter, right?
Just next to the left side of the river there are monkey signs to guide you to the park. We have to admit that before looking into more details, we were hesitant to visit the park because lately I find myself having problems visiting zoo parks. I don’t want to enter into a debate, I’m just mentioning in case you are also in that same dilemma, we can assure you that Arashiyama monkey park does not have any locked animals at all, precisely is all the way round! Animals live free in the mountain (an a really gorgeous one it is!), they gather around the main park house because they know they will get yummy food there, so your chance of seeing them is huge.
Grinning all the way down thanks to our monkey experience, we found ourselves again at the riverside with more time to just linger and watch the boats. There are boat tours that take you to Kameoka and back to the Togetsukyo Bridge (in the pictures) sailing the Hozu river. I think it looks quite lovely but the hubs is not that big fan of boats, so I didn’t know how to engage him in a two hour boat trip. Next time? It’s funny because he loves (looooves with big letters) rowboats when he is the one driving them, but however becomes uneasy with this guided type of tours.
Instead, we decided it was time for a snack to recharge and start our visit to the Tenryuji temple and the famous Bamboo grove.
The Tenryuji temple consists of two separate visits, the temple from the inside and the grounds which includes walking around the pond and the gardens. I would recommend buying both tickets because although the gardens are undoubtedly the must of this visit, it is very beautiful to sit on the temple’s tatami while watching the views from up there.
Parallel to the temple you can walk, ride a bike or sit on a rickshaw along the bamboo forest. The place looks (and is) amazing, but also very packed which diminished the charm at first. Luckily, since we were short on time and decided we had to skip the Nenbutsuji temple, we had the chance to walk the grove further to catch the Nagano romantic train. This second walk was enlightening: all its beauty appeared in our eyes.
Back at Gion, we had a dinner reservation at a Sukiyaki place thanks to the lovely staff at the Mume hotel whom make the most perfect recommendations. The restaurant has separate rooms to enjoy your Sukiyaki, this converted our last meal in Kyoto into the most perfect date.
This was probably one of our best meals in the trip and made us cherish even more all our day at Arashiyama. Does it also happen with you that a full belly helps you put that icing on the cake?
The next morning we were leaving Kyoto for the Kiso Valley, the Nakasendo trail was awaiting! Read our (rainy) adventures in the next post!
Tokyo – Part I: Shinjuku & Harajuku
Tokyo – DisneySea
Hakone and the Takuminoyado Yoshimatsu onsen
Osaka – Part I: Osaka Castle, Umeda views and Dotonbori at night
Himeji Castle (& the Hello Kitty café)
Osaka – Part II: Dotonbori, Namba temple and Den Den Town
Kyoto: Gion, Kamo riverside & Nishiki market