1. Hire a bike
With Bicycle rental services available near the train station, you can hire a bicycle until 5:30pm for a low fee of 1000 YEN. This is perhaps my most crucial tip because this is an experience like none other. Due to the large nature of the Bamboo grove and the variety of sights to see, traversing this region via a bicycle offers you not only speed and mobility, but an experience to integrate with the Japanese culture. Take your time strolling through quiet streets, across the beautiful river, and where-ever you wish to go. Safety is of little concern due to the Japanese people being very courteous of cyclists, but wear a helmet if you wish and remain cautious at all times for traffic. Remember to have your passport with you or a form of identification so that you can rent the bike without any hassles.
2. Visit the temples within the Bamboo Grove
Although the amount of tourists at these little temples may deter you, do not hesitate to pay a small fee of around 600 YEN to enter one of these sights. Located deep within the grove and easily accessible with your bicycle, take in the beautiful, well-maintained gardens and architecture Kyoto has to offer. A particular temple within this grove offers the sight of rare Koi-fish, beautiful gardens, and ultimately a zen-like experience. At this location and many others within the Bamboo Grove, I found myself taking many pictures not for show, but in memory of such a bizarre change of pace in comparison to Tokyo's nightlife. This is the perfect chance to sit down with locals, tourists and your mind, reflecting on the beautiful sceneries presented and is an experience I can only recommend to all visitors.
3. Visit areas around the Bamboo Grove- Be free!
With the mobility and speed of your bicycle, travelling and seeing many sights in this day is nothing short of possible and recommended. Often when we travel, we stick to areas and locations familiar or popularised by others. With a bicycle however, I found myself traversing much further distances, exploring truly what Japan had to offer. I found myself cycling through suburban streets, analysing homes and sondering on the lives of locals. I managed to experience absolute travel freedom, letting the bicycle and any sight I thought was interesting guide me in my travels. Along the journey I also found abandoned railway tracks, statues of historical figures, shrines and many people sights that simply will have been missed had I stuck to the mainstream routes of Arashiyama. There is no feeling like exploring things on your own and being able to hold these experiences in your memory. Let your inner-child and freedom out!
4. Skip the tourist stores and head towards the river
Unless you want to shop for overpriced kimonos, accessories, souvenirs and glassware, spare your time and ride your bicycle onwards to the nearby river. Pictured in this article, taking your bike along this pleasant and peaceful path will give you a satisfying experience like no other. For starters, the path itself is surrounded by a canopy of skyscraper-like mountains, with the water glistening against the sunlight. Furthermore, there are other cyclists and pedestrians strolling across this river also, offering you chances to strike up conversation or even receive a smile upon your passing of them. This feeling is comparable to an anime or perhaps even your first time riding your bike across your local neighbourhood. That feeling of freedom, joy, excitement, that you can finally go where you want to go, evoked nostalgic memories of my childhood, and it is this experience, especially on a bicycle that I recommend to all, which leads me to my final tip and trick when visiting Arashiyama.
5. Watch the sunset
A full day in Arashiyama is recommended due sheerly to how much there is to see, do and eat. Often in our travels we are too busy focusing on what to do next, or planning on where we want to go that we forget the true beauty in life- time. Time continues to move but often we let moments fly with it, hence I recommend especially along the river, for you to find a nice bench to rest and wait for the sunset. This moment can only be summarised by pure bliss and inner peace, offering what I believe to be the true Kyoto experience. Take the time to also reflect on yourself, your holiday, and admire the beauty and scenery that you very well may not see in a long time! Let this also be motivation to take time in your coming days visiting different cities in Japan to sometimes take some time off just to take it all in- I promise you will not regret it.
With these 5 tips and tricks in mind, I wish you the very best in your endeavours and travels to this beautiful region of Kyoto. Arashiyama is a place that offers a beautiful, change of pace and with this article, hopefully you will experience the true essence of Kyoto.