Since I was staying at the Marriott Associa hotel, it was very convenient for me to take the train service everyday. On this day I chose to head to Kyoto by taking the Shinkansen from JR Nagoya station, and transferring onto the JR Sanin train, alighting at the Saga-Arashiyama station. There is a tourist train from this station but I think it does not operate at a full frequency during the winter. My purpose of visiting Arashiyama was to check out the bamboo grove anyway so I did not get a ticket for the tourist sightseeing train.
From the Saga-Arashiyama station, it was a 10 minute walk to the Tenryuji temple. Since the autumn foliage is long gone, I did not pay to enter the temple where the main attraction was the view of the autumn colours of the surrounding hills. However around the car park of the temple, visitors can find several quaint Japanese-style courtyard gardens and a Shinto shrine.
I lingered in the area of the temple for a while before heading to the nearby Arashiyama station. Keifuku railway operates an electric rail route between Arashiyama and the centre of Kyoto at Shijo-Omiya station. For leisure passengers without a Japan Rail pass, I suggest this route since the end station is much closer to the sights in Arashiyama.
In addition, the station also has a market of sorts selling various kinds of food. There was also some restaurants around this station for visitors keen to have a full meal. I recommend visitors to try the dorayaki stall in the station that sells an interesting ‘fish-shaped’ dorayaki. The attention to detail is evident as the seller imprints the fish ‘eyes’ carefully on the dorayaki. It was also tasty for a small snack!
Another thing not to miss around the station is the cylindrical ‘lanterns’ with the inner layer wrapped in traditional craft paper. It makes for a beautiful decor around the station. There is also a hot spring foot-bath in the station for weary travellers to take a rest.
Heading south along the main road of the station lies the Togetsukyo bridge 渡月橋 which probably offers one of the most scenic spots in the area. Along the road between the Keifuku Arashiyama station and the bridge, there are several places selling food, snacks and souvenirs that might be of interest to travellers.
Along the bridge, there is a small islet in the middle before the opposite shore that is known to be a beautiful viewing spot during cherry blossom season. No such sight for me as it was winter when I visited but the clear blue skies made for an awesome sight too with the hills around the area and the flowing water of the Katsura river. There are also tourist sightseeing boats on the opposite side of the river though they did not seem to operate much in winter.
Across the bridge, visitors could also look forward to visiting several points of interest including a monkey park located slightly uphill, with its entrance just a short walk along the shore in the direction of the hills. There is also a shrine located up on the hillside where visitors could get a vantage view of the area.
Before returning to the Kyoto main station, I head out to the bamboo forest, though this time I chose to walk along the riverside before reaching the side gate of the Tenryuji temple. The bamboo grove is located another 5 minutes walk away from the temple and it is relatively easy to find.
It is indeed a wonderful place to be as it was cool and quiet. On some stretches of the pathway in the grove, there could be no one else since it was late afternoon when I visited. There was however some tour groups near the entrance of the grove who were visiting some shrine. The grove itself was quite dark so there are some adjustments that needs to be done to take some proper photos within. One tip would be to increase the ISO levels in the camera or use a lower aperture or shutter speed. As always, I always let the photos below to speak volumes about the place!
During winter time, the weather in Arashiyama can change rapidly as I encountered that particular afternoon. It was snowing during my Shinkansen ride between Nagoya and Kyoto but the weather in Kyoto was partly cloudy. Though in Arashiyama when I arrived the sun was out with blue skies. However upon leaving the bamboo grove, it started to rain and snow. Fortunately I had a weather-proof jacket with me and I certainly advise bringing an umbrella and proper footwear while visiting Arashiyama. While I only spent half a day in the suburb of Arashiyama, it can be extended to be a proper day trip from Osaka if visitors seek to explore the whole area.