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.

Staying in a Japanese ryokan: a first-timer's guide

Staying in a Japanese ryokan: a first-timer's guide

It’s a cliché to say that Japan is a land of contrasts – but, in terms of accommodation, it really is. There are some weird and many wonderful places to s…

12 Jun 2017 • Ros Walford insert_drive_file Article
Uncovering Tokyo’s nightlife: a neighbourhood guide

Uncovering Tokyo’s nightlife: a neighbourhood guide

Until recently, running a club in Japan was a risky business. The fueihō laws, created in 1948, put restrictions on any small venue where patrons had to “act…

09 Jun 2017 • Rebecca Hallett insert_drive_file Article
Video: a 1 minute guide to Japan

Video: a 1 minute guide to Japan

Japan has long captivated the imaginations of travellers around the globe, seeming to both baffle and beguile all who venture there. Between language barrier…

25 May 2017 • Colt St. George videocam Video
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