At the western outskirts of Kyoto lies another touristy district called Arashiyama. It takes about 30 minutes to get here by train but it’s totally worth the long transit (when I say long, I mean by Japanese standards) especially during cherry blossom and fall seasons. A short walk to Arashiyama’s central landmark–the Togetsukyo Bridge, will show you why. There’s the colorful mountainside in the backgound and the romantic riverside park lined with dozens of cherry trees adjacent to the bridge. It seriously felt like I was staring into a painting! I wish we got to stay here longer but we wanted to make the most of our visit to Arashiyama so we headed straight to Tenryuji Temple right after. It’s just a few miles away from the main street so there’s no way you wouldn’t find it.
Tenryuji is ranked among Kyoto’s five greatest zen temples and is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although there are plenty of temple buildings to be seen around Tenryuji, the main attraction is really its zen garden dating back to the 14th century. It features a large pond surrounded by rocks, pine trees, maple trees and the forested Arashiyama mountains. Because we were here during sakura season, we were fortunate enough to see cherry blossoms as well. So just imagine how all these colors combined looked like. Better yet, check out my photos below to see for yourself!
From outside the north gate of Tenryuji, you’ll see the path leading to Arashiyama’s well-known bamboo grove. It’s one of the most photographed tourist sights of Kyoto so you must not skip it. Lined with hundreds, probably thousands of towering bamboo stalks, you’ll feel like you’re in a different world. I’ve never seen anything quite like it!