What you Need To Know About Visiting The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove In Winter

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The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is a Pinterest dream come true.  I remember when Pinterest first started, there were pictures of some bamboo grove all over it. 

I don’t know if it was this one, but once I found out there was a bamboo grove just a short train ride from Kyoto, where I was going to be, I had to go.

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Our experience at the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in February

With very limited time in Japan, but particularly in Kyoto together, my friend and I were making most of the day by visiting the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove AND Nara Deer Park.

We started the day at the bamboo grove and when we arrived in Arashiyama from Kyoto it was actually snowing a little bit! I was not prepared for the chilly temperature and had to buy a hat and gloves.

Armed for the cold, we set off across the bridge over the Katsura River and onto the bamboo grove. Once we crossed the river we went let and walked alongside it for a bit.

Eventually we made it to the bamboo forest and we were both a little surprised at how small it is. We expected it to be a lot bigger but it was still nice.

There is a paved path through the forest and it’s very busy. Some of that can be avoided by going first thing in the morning though.

The snow had stopped but it was still pretty chilly. We just walked through the grove once then around the area to check it out.

We didn’t go to any of the temples because we were limited on time and wanted to go to Monkey Park before Nara, too.

Overall, I enjoyed the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove and am glad we went. It was a little underwhelming but it’s still worth seeing.


What is the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove?

It’s exactly what it sounds like, a grove of bamboo in the Arashiyama district of Kyoto.  It’s one of the most popular things to do in Kyoto along with the Fushimi Inari Shrine and the Kinkaku-ji Temple. 

The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is actually a smaller part of the Sagano Bamboo Forest.  It’s a natural bamboo forest of primarily moso bamboo.


Where is the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove?

The bamboo grove is in the Arashiyama district of Kyoto.

English address: Arashiyama, Ukyo-ku

Japanese address: 右京区嵐山

How much is it and when is it open?

It’s free and it’s open all the time!  Can’t beat that.


How to get to the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove from Kyoto

From Kyoto Station take the JR Sagano Line to the JR Saga-Arashiyama Station.

If you are coming from central Kyoto, take the Hankyu Line from the Kawaramachi or Karasuma Station.  You can also get the Hankyu main line from Kyoto Station. 

Either way, take the train that goes to Katsura Station.  From there transfer to the Hankyu Arashiyama line.  It’s about a ten-minute walk across the river from the station to the bamboo grove.

Once you’re in Arashiyama, there should be signs to follow to get to the bamboo grove.  If there aren’t, you can follow the map to Tenryu-ji Temple. 

The bamboo grove is right by this, but you may have to walk back a little bit to get to it since it isn’t right next to the temple.


Best time to visit the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

There is no bad time of year to visit the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, which is great. Spring would be very busy but beautiful with Sakura blossoms.

It will be hot in the summer and cold in the winter, maybe even snowy! I bet fall is also very beautiful with leaves changing nearby.

The best way to beat the crowds, though, is to go first thing in the morning! We went mid-late morning and as you can see, it’s quite busy.


What to do near the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

There is quite a bit to see and do in Arashiyama, most of which are temples.  I wanted to share a few fun things to do in Arashiyama that aren’t just temples.

Tenryu-ji Temple

Not just temples, as I start with a temple.  The Tenryu-ji Temple is a UNESCO Heritage Site just outside of the bamboo grove.  It’s also the most important Zen temple in the Arashiyama district of Kyoto. 

To see the outdoor area, pond, and gardens is 500 Yen.  If you want to see inside the buildings, it’s an additional 300 Yen.  This is a great place to see the fall colors if you’re visiting that time of year.

Monkey Park Iwatayama

Just across the river and up the mountain is a park that is home to a troop of about 130 snow monkeys.  For just 550 Yen you can make a short hike up to the top to see the monkeys out in the wild. 

There is a little hut at the top that you can feed the monkeys from.  There are really good views of Kyoto and Arashiyama below.  It’s a fun place to visit and see monkeys.  Just don’t stare at them, touch them, or give them food outside the hut.

Gio-ji temple

This is a little temple surrounded by bamboo and a moss covered garden.   It is part of the bigger Daikaku-ji Temple.  The entrance fee is 500 Yen and it’s open from 9-5. 

You can’t walk on the moss at all, but you can admire it all you like.  This is a bit of a walk from the bamboo forest, but it probably won’t be busy.

Enjoy the sakura blossoms

If you’re visiting Japan during sakura season, this is a great place to go see the sakura blossoms. 

You can see them at the temples, gardens, and parks around Arashiyama.  It’s one of the best places to see the cherry blossoms in the area.  It’s also great to see the leaves changing here.

See the Festival of Lights

Twice a year the hills of Arashiyama are filled with lanterns after nightfall.  Usually around 5 PM for about ten days the pathways are lit up around Arashiyama and in the bamboo forest. 

You can find maps showing the areas that are lit or you can follow the crowds.  There is a winter light festival in December and another in the spring in March.


Is the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove worth visiting in winter?

Yes, but I wouldn’t plan a trip to Japan around this.  I would recommend going if you’re going to be in Kyoto or Osaka or somewhere else nearby, but I wouldn’t come just for this. 

It’s really cool to see, but there are other bamboo groves out there.  This isn’t the be-all-end-all of bamboo groves, but it is worth seeing if you’re here.


Tips for visiting the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in winter:

  • Early morning or late evening will be some of the best times to photograph the Arashiyama bamboo grove.
  • If you do go really early or stay later, you may need to find another way back to Kyoto since trains may not be running.
  • You don’t need tons of time if you just want to see the bamboo grove.  A couple hours should be fine, but there is plenty to do in the area, you could easily spend the whole day in Arashiyama.
  • It can get pretty busy in the bamboo grove but don’t worry.  It’s easy enough to find a spot to yourself, at least in the winter.  In the summer, I would just recommend going as early as possible.
  • The neighboring Tenryu-ji Temple opens at 8:30 AM, so I would go to the bamboo grove before that.  Once the temple opens, it’s going to be a lot busier.

Other Kyoto area posts you may like

Have you been to the bamboo forest in Arashiyama?  What did you think of it?  Do you want to go someday?

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