Are you planning a trip to Kyoto and wondering how to get to the Arashiyama Bamboo forest? If so, you’re in the right place.
Having traveled around Japan multiple times, I’ve found that all you need is a JR pass and a good pair of walking shoes to get around the country. Kyoto is no exception but the city is definitely bigger than you might expect.
Read on to figure out the best way for you to get from Kyoto to the bamboo forest, including everything you need to know about the available transportation options and routes. I’ll also provide additional information so you can plan your day in Arashiyama after your visit to Kyoto’s famous bamboo forest.
- Kyoto to Bamboo Forest Transportation Overview
- 🚅 How to Get From Kyoto to Bamboo Forest by Train
- 🚌 How to Get from Kyoto to Bamboo Forest by Bus
- 🚶♀️ How to Get from Kyoto to Bamboo Forest by Walking
- Best Kyoto to Bamboo Forest Tours
- Visiting Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
- Arashiyama Bamboo Forest Entrance Fee
- Arashiyama Bamboo Forest Opening Hours
- Tips for Visiting Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
- Additional Things to Do in Arashiyama
- Where to Stay in Kyoto
- Frequently Asked Questions
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Kyoto to Bamboo Forest Transportation Overview
There are a few different options but the best way to get from Kyoto to the bamboo forest is by train. It’s cheap (included in your JR pass) and the most efficient use of your time.
Here’s a quick overview of the different ways to get from Kyoto to Arashiyama, which I’ll dive into further in this guide.
- 🚅 By train – the best way to get to the bamboo forest
- 🚌 By bus – only worth it if you have the Kyoto Bus One-Day pass but otherwise not recommended
- 🚶♀️By walking – not recommended as there’s no sightseeing along this walking route
🚅 How to Get From Kyoto to Bamboo Forest by Train
1. Getting from Kyoto Station to Saga-Arashiyama Station
As mentioned earlier, the best way to get from Kyoto to the bamboo forest is by train. This is especially true if you’re planning on visiting multiple cities as part of a 1- to 2-week Japan trip, in which case I’d highly recommend getting a JR pass.
No matter where you’re coming from in Kyoto, all journeys start at Kyoto Station. From there, you can use your JR pass to take the JR San-In Line to Saga-Arashiyama Station.
The train ride takes approximately 15-20 minutes and costs ¥240 (<$2).
🎫 Cost: ¥240 (<$2)
⌛Time Spent: 15-20 minutes
📍Address: Kyoto Station → Saga-Arashiyama Station l Take the JR San-In Line
2. Getting from Saga-Arashiyama Station to Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
Once you arrive at the Saga-Arashiyama Station, you can either take the local bus (not covered by the JR pass) or walk to the bamboo forest.
I’d highly recommend walking to the bamboo forest over taking the bus. Even though the bus ride is inexpensive, it takes just as long as the walk from the train station to the bamboo forest. By walking, you’ll get to explore the charming shops and delicious food stalls along the main street. Plus, you won’t have to worry about sticking to the bus timetable, which runs every 10 minutes.
⌛Time Spent: 15 minutes
📍Address: Saga-Arashiyama Station → Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
🚌 How to Get from Kyoto to Bamboo Forest by Bus
This on top of the fact that the bus takes almost twice as long and costs about the same as the train, I highly do not recommend this option. You’re much better off taking the train, which gets you there faster so you have more time to explore the bamboo forest and the surrounding area.
In order to take the bus to Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, you’ll first need to find your way to Kyoto Station. From there, hop on Kyoto City Bus 28 and get off at the Nonomiya bus stop in Arashiyama.
The bus ride takes about 50 minutes and costs ¥230 (<$2).
🎫 Cost: ¥230 (<$2)
⌛Time Spent: 45-50 minutes
📍Address: Kyoto Station → Nonomiya Bus Stop l Take Bus 28
💡Note: One of the only reasons to take the bus is if you purchased the Kyoto Bus One-Day Pass. However, this bus pass will no longer be available for purchase after September 30, 2023 and no longer valid after March 31, 2024.
🚶♀️ How to Get from Kyoto to Bamboo Forest by Walking
For those keen on exploring Kyoto’s stunning landscape on foot, you can walk from Kyoto to the bamboo forest.
However, most of the popular things to do in the city aren’t along this 2.5-3 hour walk. I’d only recommend this option for someone who really loves walking and really wants to wander around the city with no agenda.
⌛Time Spent: 2.5-3 hours
Best Kyoto to Bamboo Forest Tours
If you’re looking for a unique way to explore Arashiyama, then a guided tour is a great choice for you. While not budget-friendly, I highly recommend the following tours if you’re looking for an experience that goes beyond a simple walking tour:
- Kyoto Arashiyama Rickshaw Tour with Bamboo Forest (⭐️ 5/5) – This tour promises an intimate journey through Kyoto’s bamboo forest on a rickshaw where you’ll be taken to exclusive parts of the grove that can’t be seen on foot.
- Early Bird Arashiyama Bamboo Bike Tour (⭐️ 5/5) – This bike tour of the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest will also take you through sacred temples, beautiful rural scenery, iconic views of Kyoto’s old country, and local gems along the way.
Visiting Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest Entrance Fee
It is completely free to access the main path of the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest.
However, the nearby Tenryu-ji Temple does have an entrance fee of 500 yen to walk the temple grounds and costs an extra 300 yen to enter the temple buildings.
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest Opening Hours
The bamboo forest is open 24/7 year round, meaning you can visit any day and at any time (including at night).
If you decide to visit Tenryu-ji, you’ll have to do so between 8:30 AM and 5:00 PM.
Tips for Visiting Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
- 🌅 Early morning is the best time to visit Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. If you get to the bamboo grove before 9:00 AM, you’ll beat the crowds and have the best opportunity to take photos without lots of people in the background.
- ❄️ The bamboo grove doesn’t change that much throughout the year. The one exception is if you visit Kyoto in winter and it happens to snow during your trip, in which case you might see the bamboo trees covered in snow!
- 🔙 Don’t just stay at the entrance. While you’ll be tempted to start taking pictures from the main street, be sure to walk all the way to the back of the grove for equally picturesque views and less crowds.
- ⌛ Spend a couple of hours in Arashiyama after your visit. It’ll take you less than an hour to walk through the bamboo grove so you’ll have plenty of time to go sightseeing and explore the shops, stalls, and sights of Arashiyama. During the spring or fall seasons, you’ll want to spend at least a half day taking in the area’s breathtaking blooms and vibrant foliage.
Additional Things to Do in Arashiyama
⚠️The Iwatayama Monkey Park is another popular attraction in Arashiyama. However, despite its popularity, I have consciously chosen not to visit after reading mixed reviews about how it doesn’t seem like the monkeys are really in their natural habitat (unlike the monkeys at the Jigokudani Monkey Park). Visit at your own discretion.
After walking through the bamboo forest, be sure to spend time exploring the area. Here are my top recommendations of best things to do in Arashiyama:
- Togetsu-kyo Bridge – An iconic landmark in Arashiyama, the Togetsu-kyo Bridge provides stunning views of the surrounding mountains and river, making it an ideal photo spot. The bridge is truly enchanting during cherry blossom season and in the fall, showcasing the vibrant foliage that surrounds it.
- Saihoji – Also known as the Moss Temple, Saihoji is an ancient temple famed for its stunning moss garden that offers a serene and tranquil environment.
- Sagano Romantic Train – This 25-minute train ride is a charming way to appreciate the beauty of Arashiyama’s countryside. Following the Hozukyo Ravine, you’ll find panoramic views of the seasons in full bloom (especially picturesque during spring and fall).
- Kameyama-koen Park – Continuing past the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, you’ll find this relaxing spot that provides stunning views of the Hozu-gawa River and a retreat away from the busy tourist areas.
- Kimono Forest – The Kimono Forest is an artistic installation of hundreds of cylinder-shaped pillars, each draped in beautiful and unique kimono fabrics.
- Main Street – Near the train station, Arashiyama’s Main Street is lined with tons of shops, making it perfect for buying souvenirs, eating Japanese street, and window shopping.
Where to Stay in Kyoto
Even if you plan on visiting Arashiyama, you don’t need to spend the night in the area. Instead, you’ll want to find a place in the Gion district so you can be close to the many other attractions in Kyoto.
Here are my top recommendations for accommodations in Kyoto, ranging from traditional ryokans (Japanese inns) to modern hotels. If you can’t find a place to stay, you may want to expand your search to nearby cities such as Osaka.
- TOP RYOKAN OVERALL: Tawaraya Ryokan Widely regarded as one of the best ryokans in Japan, Tawaraya provides exceptional service and embodies the traditional. Reservations are arranged via email.
- CENTRAL RYOKAN: Gion Hatanaka (⭐️ 8.1) Comes with all the traditional elements of a ryokan in a prime location.
- BEST AFFORDABLE RYOKAN: Gion Ryokan Karaku (⭐️ 8.6) A budget-friendly ryokan in Gion offering a cozy, intimate experience at ~$200/night.
- CENTRAL HOTEL: Hotel The Celestine Kyoto Gion (⭐️ 8.7) Located near Kiyomizudera and Hanami-koki, this modern hotel blends traditional Kyoto charm with contemporary luxury.
- BOUTIQUE HOTEL: Kyoto Granbell Hotel (⭐️ 8.7) A boutique hotel located 2 minutes from the Gion-Shijo Subway Station near Nishiki Market.
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! The Arashiyama Bamboo Forest is one of the best things to do when visiting Kyoto and the perfect gateway to exploring Arashiyama. To truly immerse yourself in the tranquil atmosphere that’s present in the grove, make sure to arrive early so you can beat the crowds.
To get to the Bamboo Forest from Kyoto Station, you can take the JR Sagano Line (part of the JR San-in Line) to Saga-Arashiyama Station. The train ride typically takes between 15-20 minutes, which is much faster than taking the bus or walking from Kyoto.
You can walk through the entire length of the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest in about 15-20 minutes. However, if you want to savor the experience and also take lots of pictures, plan for 30-45 minutes.
Final Thoughts: Getting From Kyoto to Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
With a little bit of planning, you’ll find the journey from Kyoto to the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest easy to navigate and well-worth it.
Getting to the bamboo grove is fairly straightforward, especially if you have a JR pass. While there are a number of transportation options available, your best bet is to take the train from Kyoto Station to Saga-Arashiyama Station.
Once you arrive in Arashiyama, you’ll find the walk through the bamboo trees to be a welcome escape from the busyness of the city – just be sure to get there early. Afterwards, make the most of your trip from Kyoto to Arashiyama by exploring the rest of the area, including a stop at Saihoji (one of my favorite temples in Japan).
I hope you found this guide on how to get from Kyoto to Arashiyama helpful!