Half-Day Arashiyama Day Trip from Kyoto, with Tenryu-ji and the Bamboo Grove

Learn about this history of this magical bamboo forest with an expert on religion
From US$415 privately
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Tour Details
4 hours
Product Type
  • Jojakko-ji Temple
  • Tenryu-ji Temple
  • Bamboo Grove
  • Sogenchi Gardens
Photos & Highlights
  • From beliefs and customs, to paintings and literature, learn all about the Heian period's influence on Japanese culture
  • Led by a local historian
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Tour Description
The Heian period is for the Japanese as the Ancient Greek and Roman eras are for Europeans. Many of the foundational ideas, beliefs, and customs, as well as defining paintings, poetry, and works of literature were developed during that period, leading some to consider the Heian period as the primary period of development for Japanese culture. Not coincidentally, Heian-Kyo is also the former name of Kyoto, which was at the center of this profound period of development. On our Arashiyama Tour, you travel back in time to this integral period of growth on an excursion to the quiet enclave of Arashiyama on the outskirts of Kyoto, visiting villas, temples, and unspoiled forests to unearth how Japanese identity came about during this fertile period.

Are you staying in Arashiyama? You can join our guide in Arashiyama directly. Check the logistic notes down below for more information about it.

Meeting in front of Hankyu Kawaramachi Station, our guide will join us for the 20-minute train ride to Arashiyama, during which we’ll review the history of Kyoto, the important role that Arashiyama played in its development, and how it remains a tranquil enclave in a thoroughly urbanized society. Upon our arrival, we’ll walk to, and then across, Togetsu Bridge, the area's iconic landmark. The bridge, the name of which translates to “a bridge where the moon crosses," is surrounded by lush forests and is adjacent to a cherry tree grove, it provides a fittingly tranquil way to begin our exploration of Arashiyama.

Having passed over the bridge like monks have done for hundreds of years, we’ll move on to Tenryuji Temple, one of the most important Zen temples in the city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A Rinza-sect Zen temple, it is known in particular for its garden, which has remained virtually unchanged since its inception, created by famed garden designer Muso Soseki in the 14th century. Exploring the sprawling grounds with our guide on our Arashiyama Tour, we’ll learn about the power struggle that led to the temple’s inception, the foundations of Zen landscape design, and how Zen Buddhism shaped and continues to influence Japanese society today.

Our Arashiyama Tour will at this point proceed into the famed bamboo grove. Wandering through this otherworldly place, we’ll spend some time appreciating the serene sensation of being surrounded by bamboo—it’s difficult to convey the particular sensation that comes from finding oneself surrounded by soaring shoots of bamboo. You may also visit a small shrine called Nonomiya Shrine in the middle of the forest. Originally, this was where an imperial princess purified herself before becoming a high priestess at Ise Grand Shrine. Notably, the shrine makes an appearance in The Tale of Genji, an 11th-century masterpiece of Japanese literature considered by some to be the world’s first novel.

Exiting the grove, we’ll walk about ten minutes to the northern part of Arashiyama, stopping at Jojakkoji Temple. Built in the 16th century, this Buddhist temple is famous for its quiet, yet breathtaking scenery, lovely moss garden, and two hundred maple trees. Enjoying a quiet respite from the more famous sites nearby, we’ll drink in the views of Kyoto as you contemplate the important religious sites and natural beauty you have experienced on our Arashiyama Tour.

We'll wrap up at Jojakkoji Temple, having gained a deeper appreciation for Japanese culture, as well as a better understanding of the forces that shaped it. You will also have the opportunity to see some of the most strikingly beautiful examples of nature in the city, from the finely manicured garden inside Tenryuji Temple to the unforgettable bamboo grove.
  • You're a culture lover interested in immersing yourself and your family in Japanese culture
  • You’re hoping to discover Arashiyama through the eyes of a local expert
  • Jojakko-ji Temple
  • Tenryu-ji Temple
  • Bamboo Grove
  • Sogenchi Gardens
If you are staying in Arashiyama, you can still join the tour! 
  • The meeting point will be in front of the Hankyu Arashiyama station, located at Arashiyama Higashiichikawacho, Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-0002, Japan at 9:45 AM. (Please note that this is the meeting point ONLY if you are starting the tour in Arashiyama, NOT if you are departing from Kyoto)
  • The tour will last 3.5h (instead of 4 hours)
  • Your guide will join you in Arashiyama directly
  • After you book the tour, we will reimburse you for the train tickets from Kyoto.
  • Please leave us a note when you book the tour so that we can adapt the new meeting point
  • Where does it meet? Where does it end? We meet near Hankyu Kawaramachi station. The tour ends in Arashiyama.
  • Are the transport cost and temple entrance fees included in the tour cost? Yes, all the venue entrance fees and roundtrip train tickets from Kyoto are included.
  • Can we use our JR pass on this tour? Unfortunately not - the only way for you to sit with the guide on the train is by using tickets bought directly by the guide, therefore you must purchase tickets through us.
  • Is it okay to tip my guide in Japan? Yes. Context clients generally tip anywhere from 10-25% of the purchase price of a personal service such as this, depending on the quality of the experience and their tipping habits.
We understand that some of our valued guests may have mobility concerns, and we want to ensure you have a comfortable and enjoyable experience throughout your tour. If there are any accessibility concerns that your tour guide will need to be aware of, please let our team know at the time of booking.
Book with confidence — see Context's flexible cancellation policy here.

Where You'll Start
(4.88) 72 Reviews

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We loved Preston! He was sweet and knowledgeable and made our day amazing!!!
Super knowledgeable about Japan's religions ,friendly great attitude
Marc is an exceptional guide with myriad of interests and expertise. He is professional, enthusiastic, curious and an outstanding educator who used visual aids during the tour to effectively complement the information delivered. From learning about the monkeys behavior at the park, to exploring Arashiyama’s history and beauty, this tour was inspiring.