ARASHIYAMA BAMBOO FOREST
About a 30-40 minute train ride from Kyoto train station lies a beautiful walk through a bamboo forest. This tranquil promenade is great for the soul. If you go early enough it will be empty and have very little human traffic. It is a well kept, clean forest, as if even nature itself is collaborating to preserve its wonder. If you want something other-worldly, this forest offers that.
There are a couple vendors along the way and temples you can visit although, for a price.
Sunrise, sunset, mid day, it doesn’t matter what time of day you visit. The towering branches rise to the heavens and cast amazing tones for your pictures. It’s quite hard to put into words of how grand this forest really is, pictures barely do it justice. These bamboo pillars bring you that humbling feeling and really reveal how small we are compared to the vastness of nature. (Tip: they don’t allow bicycles here so if you do rent one, you have to walk it up and down the path which may become burdensome. Our advice is to get bicycles afterward if you plan to explore the surrounding area).
IWATAYAMA MONKEY PARK
In the same region as the bamboo forest resides a monkey park! Yes, a park like your local neighborhood park, but with monkeys! This was definitely a major highlight of our Japan trip. From the bamboo forest, we headed back to the train station to rent some bicycles. After renting some bikes (about 20USD/2000JPY at the time of our exchange rate for all day – 5PM/1700.) we biked for about 20 minutes and arrived at the base of the mountain where the monkey park is.
There is an abundant amount of parking spots to station your bicycles or strollers, just don’t forget to lock it up because you may be gone for an hour or two!
Some fun facts about the monkeys in the park:
1) They are called Japanese macaque A.K.A. SNOW MONKEY.
2) They are they only nonhuman primate to live in such a cold climate.
3) Every monkey at the park has a name.
4) They don’t like to be looked at in the eye.
And last but not least
5) They are very territorial.
For a couple of USD (about 240-350 JPY), you can feed the monkeys some bananas, peanuts or other assorted fruits.
Approximately a 45 minute hike up the mountain was the park. It was a great experience to see these creatures. They were so humanly that you felt that you could carry a conversation with them. What was great about this was that these animals were free to roam yet, did not venture too far off into the valley or city. They stayed in one general location which was on top of the mountain.
We were able to visit both sites in a single day. Like always, the earlier you go to these places, the better it is if you like to experience things with less human activity. We were able to visit temples along the way too so this small adventure can easily be accomplished in one day (includes stopping in the city to eat). If you’re a nature fan, (we should all be) these two spots are great spots to visit,
Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
Monkey Park at Kyoto
Japan, 〒616-0007 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Nishikyo Ward, Arashiyama Genrokuzancho, 8
“Humankind’s greatest priority is to reintegrate with the natural world.”
– Jonathon Porritt