Kyoto’s bamboo forest, also known as Arashiyama Bamboo Grove or Sagano Bamboo Forest, is one of the city’s most famous scenes.

With a seemingly endless forest of thick, green stalks stretching towards the sky it’s no wonder this spot draws crowds year-round. But, its popularity means it gets busy, so here’s a classic Kyoto bamboo forest itinerary to help you make the most out of your visit.

What is Arashiyama Bamboo Forest?

Kyoto’s bamboo forest is quite a tricky location for photographers, as capturing that perfect picture is often hindered by its very popularity. Regardless, when you are successful in your attempts to avoid any people walking in your shot, it will certainly be one of your most cherished photographs from your trip to Japan — among the estimated few thousand you’ll take, that is.

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Pro tip: Enlist the help of a foodie guide for a different (and tasty) perspective on Arashiyama Bamboo Grove and surrounding area.

bamboo forest
Reach for the sky. | Photo by iStock.com/manjik

While it is the endless bamboo’s impeccable visual beauty that draws people in, it is also one of the 100 Soundscapes of Japan set by the Japanese Ministry of Environment. The everyday sound of rustling bamboo as it sways on the wind and the stirring of its leaves is what completes your dream.

How to get to Kyoto’s bamboo forest

Sagano Bamboo Forest is on the western edge of Kyoto, surprisingly far from the center of city. There are a few different train and bus routes you can take to get there, and of course, if you wanted to you could even take a taxi.

Taking the train to Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

There are two main train options to get to Arashiyama. One is to go to JR Saga-Arashiyama Station and the other is to go to Arashiyama Station. These stations serve different train lines, but both are just a short walk from the bamboo grove.

JR San-In Line: Best for JR Pass holders and those staying near Kyoto Station or Nijō-jō Castle

~15 minutes
¥240

The best way to get from Kyoto Station to Arashiyama is to take the JR San-In Line to Saga-Arashiyama Station. It will take about 15 minutes and cost ¥240. This JR Line passes close to Nijō-jō Castle, so it’s a convenient option is you’re staying in that area. And of course, because it’s a JR Line it’s fully covered by the JR Pass and JR West regional passes.

Randen Line: Best for those staying in Shijō or Gion

~30 minutes, plus some walking
¥420

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If you are staying around Shijō or Gion, it’s more convenient to take the Hankyu-Kyoto Line to Saiin Station and then transfer to the Randen Line for Arashiyama Station. This will take about 30 minutes and cost ¥420 from Kawaramachi Station.

Pro tip: This route is covered by the Hankyu Tourist Pass. A 1-day version of this pass costs ¥700 so we recommend it for a day trip from Kawaramachi Station out to Arashiyama. For more on this and other passes, read our article on Kyoto discount travel passes.

Taking the bus to Arashiyama

There are numerous bus routes that criss-cross Kyoto and will take you to Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. However, we only recommend taking one if there is a bus stop conveniently close to your accommodation. Buses take much longer than trains — for example a bus from Kyoto Station to Arashiyama will take around 50 minutes. Plus, buses can easily get crowded and this often causes problems for locals who rely on them for day-to-day transport.

Want to know more about your transport options in Kyoto? Make sure to read our full guide on getting around in Kyoto.

When should you go to Arashiyama Bamboo Forest?

The absolute best time to visit the bamboo grove would be an afternoon in the early summer, when the weather is still pleasant and locals may be out for a stroll wearing yukata. However, it’s delightful year-round.

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Pro tip: If you want the bamboo vibe, but aren’t keen on the crowds, visit Adashino Nenbutsu-ji Temple instead. It has its own bamboo forest and is a great alternative to Arashiyama Bamboo Forest.

What time does the Kyoto bamboo forest open?

The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is open 24-7. But it’s not illuminated along the whole route and the Arashiyama area in general is not as well-lit in the evening as more central parts of Kyoto.

What is the best time of the day to visit Arashiyama Bamboo Grove?

When it comes to the best lighting situation for photos, it’s best to visit Kyoto Bamboo Forest in the afternoon. But if you want to avoid the crowds, it’s best to visit early in the morning.

Arashiyama itinerary: One day in Kyoto Bamboo Forest

Starting point: Tenryuji Temple

kyoto weekend
Tenryuji Temple. | Photo by Lily Crossley-Baxter

As you walk along Arashiyama’s main street, you will pass Tenryuji Temple, one of the finest Zen temples in Kyoto that deserves its own visit. According to Japanese tradition, bamboo is a symbol of strength and it is far from rare to find a Buddhist temple or Shinto shrine without a small bamboo grove to ward off evil within its grounds. When exiting the temple’s north gate, the path leading into the Sagano Bamboo Forest lies just to its left. Enter and enjoy!

On your way out: The Ōkōchi Sansō Villa

The view from a lookout, in the foreground is some autumn foliage. In the distance there are mountains.
The view from Ōkōchi Sansō Villa. | Photo by Maria Danuco

Before exiting the bamboo forest, you may notice a sublime traditional villa at the top of the hill. The Ōkōchi Sansō Villa, as it is known, is the former home of Denjirō Ōkōchi, who was famous for his roles in Japanese silent films and period dramas (including the The Tale of Genji in 1951). The villa is a truly grand complex encompassing its own altar, study, teahouse and museum devoted to Ōkōchi. Amongst the buildings are countless gardens with a wide variety of plant life in all four seasons.

The Ōkōchi Sansō Villa is open between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. for an admission fee of ¥1,000. Although this may seem quite hefty, it is well worth a visit to complete your experience in Arashiyama.

Pro tip: You can also explore bamboo groves in Tokyo, if you happen to find yourself in the capital.

Where to eat near Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

Matcha mousse cake and matcha latte from Kumonocha. | Photo by Maria Danuco

Most of the food options near Sagano Bamboo Forest are clustered around Arashiyama Station. We recommend opting to eat lunch early or late, as most places get very crowded around noon. Don’t leave it too late though, most restaurants here are close around 5 p.m.

For a Japanese-style meal, we liked Yosiya. They have a wide range of items on their menu, including tempura, various types of noodle dishes, katsu, tofu dishes, and hot pots. Prices start at ¥1,320 for a tempura udon, while a wagyu beef hot pot will set you back upwards of ¥6,000. What is especially good about this place though, is that they are halal certified, and have a range of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free menu items too.

If you’re in the mood just for a coffe and cake instead of a full meal, check out Kumonocha Cafe. They’re a popular café that serves a range of teas, coffees, and cakes. Their cloud-shaped mousse cakes are especially popular, and they sometimes have special seasonal flavors available.

Best Arashiyama tours

For those who prefer to explore places with the expertise of a local guide, you’re in luck — there is no end to the number of different Arashiyama tours available. Let’s take a look at some of our favorites.

Arashiyama rickshaw tour

From ¥6,000
Book here

Rickshaws and Arashiyama go hand-in-hand — they are an iconic way to get around the bamboo grove. But arranging a ride can be intimidating, which is why we recommend Rickshaw tour service. They have a range of tour lengths and can easily be booked online. We also like that they have English-speaking guides.

Early morning Arashiyama bike tour

¥19,887
Book here

This tour is a great fit for the sportier among us. It departs from Saga-Arashiyama Station at 8 a.m. morning, so you’ll beat the worst of the crowds. Your English-speaking guide will also take you further afield to places most other tourits don’t visit. This Arashiyama bike tour can be booked online and the price includes bicycle rental and a helmet.

Arashiyama small group walking tour with lunch included

¥17,100
Book here

Last but not least, here’s a lovely walking small group walking tour. An English-speaking guide will shown you around the Arashiyama area, including temples and a garden. Entry fees, a small tea ceremony and lunch (with vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free options) are all included.

Frequently asked questions

Is the bamboo forest in Kyoto worth visiting

Kyoto bamboo forest is certainly very pretty. But, we’ll be honest and say that lately, the crowds have made it a less appealing. Especially because there are some equally pretty alternatives very close by.

Is Arashiyama Bamboo Forest free to visit

Yes, it’s free to visit Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. But temples or residences along the route may require a minor fee to pay a visit.

How long does it take to walk through the bamboo forest in Kyoto?

Allow yourself an hour to walk through the bamboo grove and back.

While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change. Post first published in 2016. Last updated in March 2024.

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