Budget Kyoto and The Bamboo Forest at Arashiyama

The best things in life and travel are free.

Marty and I are not averse to spending money on experiences and there are plenty of ways to do so Kyoto, but there are many budget options as well.

Shrines are free to visit – even the amazing Orange Torii gates at Fushimi Inari Taisha and provide an exciting window into another culture.

Temple entrance fees are inexpensive and the gardens that surround them quite often steal the show.


Walking isn’t just exercise when everything around you is new and exciting.

Before we start walking we’re catching a train to the historical area of Arashiyama in the west of Kyoto. Arriving at the Hankyu Arashiyama Terminal necessitates a walk across the Hozu river – a definite bonus as far as I am concerned. See the bottom of this post for more transport options.

The antics of the boatmen and their passengers are intriguing and in Autumn, the orange, red and yellow mountain provides a colourful backdrop. In Spring the cherry trees around the Togetsukyo (Moon Crossing Bridge) and riverside in Nakanoshima park flower and are a popular spot for Hanami – parties held beneath the Sakura (cherry blossoms).  We will definitely be returning to Japan to celebrate Hanami in the future.

I’ve written a post on exploring the river but here is a reminder of what the Hozugawa Gorge looks like from Kameyama Park – I love that eagle eye view.

Arashiyama Hozugawa River Gorge

A few metres away these picnickers have a completely different view.

Arashiyama Kameyama Park View

Next on our agenda is finding the path through the famous Bamboo Groves.

These signs look the part but don’t worry if you can’t read Japanese – there are plenty of tourists around to compare maps with.

Arashiyama Arashiyama Kameyama Park Signs

Arashiyama Colours


Arashiyama Kameyama Park Paths

The Bamboo Grove.


Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest Fence


Arashiyama Bamboo Forest path

Arashiyama Bamboo


Entrance to the grove is free. Don’t expect a huge bamboo forest here but do expect an impressive short pathway lined by towering bamboo.  Even with loads of people moving through, the grove holds a magical quality.We accessed it by a picturesque riverside walk and climb but it can also be accessed from the main street north of the entrance to Tenrryu-ji Temple.

When approaching from the hill as we did take a right turn when exiting the grove to visit Tenryu-ji (temple).  At 500 yen for garden only entrance and a further 100 yen for the temple itself Tenryu-ji is another budget reason to visit this interesting district – stay tuned for a post on the temple gardens.

On the same side of the river as the Hankyu Arashiyama Terminal is the Iwatayama Monkey park.  Follow the river past the bridge and take a 10 minutes uphill hike.  The monkeys rome free and the humans are in a cage. 550 yen entrance.


This post is linked to Nancie’s Travel Photo Thursday over at Budget Travelers Sandbox and

Noel’s Travel Photo Monday at Travel Photo Discovery.


Transport to Arashiyama 

Hankyu Main line from Kawaramachi or Karasuma Station in Kyoto’s Shijo Dori to Katsura then change to Hankyu Arashiyama Line (easy). 20 min. 220 yen

JR Saga-Arashiyama Line from Kyoto Train Station 10-15 min 240 yen.

The cute purple cars of the Randen Line (Keifuku line) from  Omiya Station on Shijo-dori – the same line that leads to Kinkaku-ji (the Golden Temple) and the peaceful zen temple Ninna-Ji.

We choose the train option over buses every time.  Buses are good but if you have to stand whilst they are stuck in traffic they are less appealing.  Look out for Kyoto City buses #28 and #11 or Kyoto City #71, #72 and #73.


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