When one googles «Arashiyama,» the images that come up usually include the enchanting Bamboo Grove that can be found in this beautiful little city in the suburbs of Kyoto.
However, I can’t emphasize enough how early you really need to be if you want to take some ethereal and serene photos of the place. As early as 7am, the place is already teeming with tourists especially during spring. Either travel from Kyoto (JR Sagano Line) very, very early or stay in Arashiyama for a night and wake up early the next day.
This temple is just beside the bamboo grove and should really be just as famous, if not more. When you visit, you'll find yourself immersed in every single kind of scenario that you have seen from Japanese films or anime.
The temple has massive tatami rooms where one can imagine Samurai or martial artists in training. There is a zen rock garden and a koi pond which are both staples in many Japanese films.
The pagodas appear to have jumped out from the pages of your favorite manga or from the screen of the best Japanese period films. It's overwhelmingly beautiful and traditional. While very touristy, this place offers a real look into Japanese culture.
Found in the temple grounds, this garden is the real gem. While the distinct Japanese architectural elements of the temple are fascinating, the gardens are simply surreal.
If you come in the spring time, this garden will be in full bloom with colorful cherry, plum and peach blossoms. It won't be all white like cherry blossom groves. There will be radiant pinks, deep purples and oranges as well.
It is simply breathtaking to take a stroll in the crisp, cool air amid a beautiful display of nature's finest colors.
The rest of the city is lined with souvenir shops and quaint restaurants. There are also a lot of traditional Japanese food stalls. Take your time to walk around among the cherry blossom lined streets. Have a snack or some tea in one of the many tea houses.
Arashiyama during spring time is Instagram worthy from every angle so make sure you charge your cameras and free up lots of storage!
You will likely arrive at Arashiyama via train from Kyoto. Once there, the station itself is a museum called a kimono forest. Once you exit the train, you will find yourself surrounded by colorful pillars made out of richly patterened silks that are used for making Kimono.