Japan 2.0: Arashiyama monkeys, the river & bamboo forest

Tenryuji Temple - The cat, you and us

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!

Arashiyama train - The cat, you and us Arashiyama train - The cat, you and us Arashiyama train - The cat, you and us Arashiyama train - The cat, you and us Arashiyama train - The cat, you and us

Shiny train!

Arashiyama train - The cat, you and us Arashiyama - The cat, you and us

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.

Arashiyama monkey park - The cat, you and us Arashiyama monkey park - The cat, you and us

All the way up we were wondering if we were going to see monkeys or not, since we were afraid that maybe they only show up during meal hours. However, we both agreed that the hike up was so gorgeous that we were already happy with this.

Arashiyama monkey park - The cat, you and us Arashiyama monkey park - The cat, you and us Arashiyama monkey park - The cat, you and us

We had nothing to be afraid of! They love to play around the main area, specially the little ones!

Arashiyama monkey park - The cat, you and us Arashiyama monkey park - The cat, you and us Arashiyama monkey park - The cat, you and us Arashiyama monkey park - The cat, you and us Arashiyama monkey park - The cat, you and us Arashiyama monkey park - The cat, you and us Arashiyama monkey park - The cat, you and us

This little rascal was super concentrated in fetching leaves and finding stones. I was looking at his job for a while but wasn’t able to deduct his sorting technique, some leaves were good but others were harshly dismissed.

Arashiyama monkey park - The cat, you and us

What I loved about the park is that in fact you are the one that are welcomed to enter into a “cage” (sort of) if you want to give the monkeys treats. I loved the idea of them being in the wild while I was locked inside for the privilege of being able to interact with them. We bought bananas!

Arashiyama monkey park - The cat, you and us Arashiyama monkey park - The cat, you and us Arashiyama monkey park - The cat, you and us Arashiyama monkey park - The cat, you and us Arashiyama monkey park - The cat, you and us

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.

Arashiyama riverside - The cat, you and us Arashiyama riverside - The cat, you and us

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.

Tenryuji Temple - The cat, you and us Tenryuji Temple - The cat, you and us Tenryuji Temple - The cat, you and us Tenryuji Temple - The cat, you and us Tenryuji Temple - The cat, you and us Tenryuji Temple - The cat, you and us Tenryuji Temple - The cat, you and us Tenryuji Temple - The cat, you and us Tenryuji Temple - The cat, you and us Arashiyama - The cat, you and us Tenryuji Temple - The cat, you and us

Watching the leaves turning red was our favorite pastime at the Tenryuji, can you see the little spots? Cute!

Tenryuji Temple - The cat, you and us Tenryuji Temple - The cat, you and us

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.

Arashiyama bamboo forest - The cat, you and us Arashiyama bamboo forest - The cat, you and us Arashiyama bamboo forest - The cat, you and us Arashiyama bamboo forest - The cat, you and us Arashiyama bamboo forest - The cat, you and us

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.

Kyoto Gion at night - The cat, you and us Sukiyaki Kyoto - The cat, you and us Sukiyaki Kyoto - The cat, you and us

A sukiyaki is served in this hot pot where you cook thin slices of meat in a dashi soup with vegetables.

Sukiyaki Kyoto - The cat, you and us

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!

More of our Japan 2.0 adventures:
Tokyo – Part I: Shinjuku & Harajuku
Tokyo – DisneySea
Kamakura
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

4 Comments / 4 

  1. Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's - 21st February 2017

    I love that close-up photo of the monkey under the sign! It’s awesome (and humane!) that the monkeys get to roam freely :D -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

  2. Nieves - 21st February 2017

    Me encantan las fotos! Qué tren más bonito! Y además te lleva a unos lugares de ensueño, el parque de los monos es muy divertido, el bosque de bambú, me parece un sitio con una luz luminosa, y por otra parte la tradición es de un gran respeto con las personas y naturaleza, Dàmaris sales muy guapa en todas las fotos.

  3. Nerissa Rahadian - 22nd February 2017

    What I love about Kyoto is that everywhere you turn around, every corner seems so peaceful and calm! And your pictures represented it very well here <3

  4. Fiona - 23rd February 2017

    ahhhh so breath-taking!! All your photos are so so beautiful, from the trains to the perfectly placed monkeys to that bamboo forest!! One of the things I love most about Japanese food is all the little dishes and care and love in the preparation!

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