Western Kyoto ends in the pleasant, leafy suburb of ARASHIYAMA (嵐山). Set beside the Hozu-gawa, Arashiyama was originally a place for imperial relaxation, away from the main court in central Kyoto, where aristocrats indulged in pursuits such as poetry-writing and hunting, but the palaces were later converted into Buddhist temples and monasteries. The most famous of these is Tenryū-ji, noted for its garden, while the smaller, quieter temples have a more intimate appeal. In contrast with Tenryū-ji’s somewhat introspective garden, that of Ōkōchi Sansō – the home of a 1920s movie actor – is by turns secretive and dramatic, with winding paths and sudden views over Kyoto. For a break from temples and gardens, take the Torokko train up the scenic Hozu valley to Kameoka, from where boats ferry you back down the fairly gentle Hozu rapids.

A good way to explore the area is to rent a bike and spend a day pottering around the lanes and through magnificent bamboo forests; alternatively, it is possible to see some of the main sights by jinrikisha. If you’re pushed for time, you could consider combining Arashiyama with the sights of western Kyoto.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Japan features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Solo travel can be one of the most rewarding ways to explore the world. Whether you'd rather spend it on a desert island or in a frenetic new city, here are th…

21 Dec 2016 • Rachel Mills camera_alt Gallery
11 tips for backpacking Japan

11 tips for backpacking Japan

With its tech-centric entertainment, ancient temples, lightning fast rail system and traditional art forms, Japan offers a fascinating mix of the new and the o…

12 Dec 2016 • Tamatha Roman insert_drive_file Article
Japan travel tips: 13 things to know before you go

Japan travel tips: 13 things to know before you go

With its glittering royal palaces, ancient temples and sacred shrines as well as sandy beaches, some of the world’s best skiing and beautiful national parks, …

14 Nov 2016 • Freya Godfrey insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month