Arashiyama is a district to the West of Kyoto and was probably the best day I had whilst staying there. Arashiyama translated means “Storm Mountain” but on the day we visited, the skies couldn’t have been clearer. It was scorching weather with little breeze.
The reviews of the district and the photos I had seen online in no way did it justice – the view from Togetsukyō (the beautiful wooden bridge straddling the river) looking towards the mountains in all their spring colours with the wide river flowing towards us, was simply breathtaking.
Iwatayama Monkey Park
You’ll have to forgive my touristy impulses this time as I had to visit the Iwatayama Monkey Park – I’m an animal lover and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
The park is filled with around 170 wild macaque monkeys that wander freely amongst you and you have the option to buy food for them. If you do wish to feed them though, it is you (the human) who goes into a cage to hand them the food and not vice-versa which is quite refreshing. Watching the monkeys play carelessly and parade around, some lazing in the shade, others sitting casually by the pond and one grumpy territorial monkey sulking, was such a rewarding experience. Not to mention that the view down onto Arashiyama and the surrounding countryside was stunning.
Arashiyama Mountain and Hozu River
We stayed with the monkeys for a long time but when we eventually made our way down, we couldn’t resist taking a row-boat out onto the Hozu River. The heat didn’t make it easy but we rowed up the river and under the watchful eye of Mount Arashi and further on into the picturesque gorge.
We got out of the boat a fair way upstream to enjoy the scenery and give our arms a rest. It was so peaceful and the colours of the trees and leaves made for one of the most beautiful natural locations I saw during my stay. I can only imagine the people living in Arashiyama are happy and relaxed as their district is an amazing place – albeit starting to become ever-more popular with tourists.
Bamboo Groves and Return to Kyoto
The day was coming to a close now and so we began to make our way back to the train station to head back into Kyoto. We decided to walk back via Tenryū-ji Temple and the Bamboo groves to round off the day.
I don’t know if the Monkey Park and the gorge had set my expectations really high but I didn’t find the bamboo groves or Tenryū-ji Temple as interesting as I had expected to but it was a nice way to complete an incredible day out in the naturally-stunning and peaceful Arashiyama district.
Arashiyama – the “Storm Mountain” that fills you with mountains of tranquility.