Western Kyoto in Japan is a large, touristic zone spread on Ukyo and Nishikyo wards. More rural, it is commonly summarized to Sagano on the North-West, up to the surroundings of Katsura River in the South-West. It is notably home to the very pleasant district of Arashiyama, which acts as an interesting transition between the urban and geometric heart of Kyoto and the never-ending forests of Sagano mountains.
Arashiyama’s Togetsukyo Bridge
Arashiyama’s most iconic landmark is Togetsukyo Bridge. It was originally built during the Heian Period (794-1185) and most recently reconstructed in the 1930s. The legend tells that "this bridge crosses the moon" and Japanese people do appreciate it particularly with family or in couple, contemplating flowering cherry trees in spring or red Japanese maple trees during the fall. Many small shops, restaurants and other attractions are found nearby. The bridge looks particularly amazing in combination with the forested mountainside in the background.
Activities: Photo stop, Walking Fee: None Time required: 20 minutes
Arashiyama Bamboo Groves
One of the most photographed and recognizable sights in the country, the walkthrough Arashiyama Bamboo Forest is short but meaningful. The groves are particularly attractive when there is a light wind and the tall bamboo stalks sway gently back and forth. December brings a special glow to the grove during what is known as Hanatoro, or flower and light road. Thousands of lanterns throughout the Arashiyama area light up the night at temples and shrines as well over more than five kilometres around the town centre and along the river. The bamboo has been used to manufacture various products, such as baskets, cups, boxes and mats at local workshops for centuries.
Activities: Photo stop, Walking Fee: None Time required: 30 minutes
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tenryuji is the largest and most impressive temple in Arashiyama. . This is the head temple of the Tenryu branch of Rinzai Zen Buddhism, and rigorous training continues here to this day. In addition to its temple buildings, there are attractive gardens with walking paths. Visitors usually start by exploring the main hall and observing the famed garden and pond from inside the hall, then you put your shoes back on and explore the garden on foot. Tenryuji is one of the best examples of shakkei (borrowed scenery) in Japan: the steep mountains of Arashiyama form are perfectly incorporated into the design of the garden.
Activities: Photo stop, Walking Fee: None Time required: 1 hour
The garden of Saiho-ji is acclaimed by many as Kyoto's most beautiful garden and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage. It is especially famous for its moss garden, for which reason it is also commonly known as Moss temple or Kokedera. During the Edo period, Saihoji fell into disrepair. It must have been at this time that moss slowly encroached the garden until it covered all of it. Today, there are roughly 120 types of moss in the garden.The best times to view the garden are during the rainy season (mid-June until mid-July) and in autumn, when the red and orange of the maple's leafs contrast nicely with the lush green of the velvety moss.
Activities: Photo stop, Walking, Sutra copying Fee: JPY 3000 Time required: Minimum 1 hour
Comprising the Kyoto Station Building and the surrounding blocks, the Kyoto Station area has a lot to offer from shops, restaurants, clothing stores, and many more. Inside the Kyoto Station itself, you will find Isetan Department Store, the Cube, Asty Squares, and Porta Underground Shopping Mall.