Arashiyama: Bamboo Groves & Zen Dreams

Posted by on June 1, 2015 in Advice + Tips, Excursions, Japan, Kyoto, Landscaapes, Local Color, Temples | 4 comments

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On the outskirts of Kyoto lies a place of amazing beauty, a place so green and silent it speaks to your heart and soul…at least before or after the hordes of tourists pour through…

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According to Wikipedia, Arashiyama is a nationally-designated Historic Site and Place of Scenic Beauty, and deservedly so. I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere. There’s a hush in the place, a special feeling, that is hard to put into words. It’s a sort of timeless place that you can get lost in the feeling of.

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That’s why it’s a good thing to stay there overnight (or 2 or 3 nights) so you can have it to yourself, even if for a brief time. It’s a day trip from Kyoto, a short train or bus ride, so in the middle of the day it’s pretty touristic. But in the early morning or evening, when the masses commute back to Kyoto, it’s magical.

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Birds sing sweet songs…

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…and you can almost hear the bamboo growing, from small, to very tall.

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Some people might ignore it…

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…or even vandalize it.

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But still it grows, strong and green and silent, for all to enjoy.

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There’s a lot more to Arashiyama than the bamboo groves, though. It’s a place with many temples, each of them unique and different…

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…there are Zen temples and gardens…

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…temples carpeted in moss…

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…large temples…

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…tiny temples…

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…red temples…

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…and brown temples. There are rickshaw rides and boat rides…

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…and bridges…

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…and gates and geishas (and geisha imposters!)

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Plus friendly locals to ask for directions!

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There are elaborate meals, and simple hearty repasts…

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…and instructions should you get confused…

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Or if you’re thirsty, just look on your nearest street corner…

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There are also sweet endings…

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And if you like to shop, there are plenty of colorful souvenirs…

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…plus a lovely lake to walk around just outside of town…

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So if you want to escape the bustling crowds of the big Japanese cities, and take a step back in time to a quieter Kyoto, head to Arashiyama and enjoy the bamboo, the temples and the peace of a very special place.

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*A side note: Through Air B&B, I rented a room in a young man’s apartment. Shinji was an excellent host, meeting me at the train station, carrying my heavy bag, and giving me tons of information of where to go and what to see and do. In addition, he cooked me a lovely meal, and we had several lively discussions of our different cultures, politics, and more. I slept on a futon in a tatami-matted room and learned much about Japanese culture that I wouldn’t have had I stayed in a generic western hotel, not to mention it’s a lot more affordable.

 

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4 Comments

  1. Thank you for the lovely pictures and info. You have a great eye for wonderful photos! I think you should consider a blog and or book on how you’re able to travel the world as a single woman. I think there’s a market for that.

    • Thanks Kat, you are very welcome! I do plan to write a book, and it helps to hear that you think there’s a market for it 🙂 I write every day, notes to myself of all my adventures and misadventures, and put some of it into this blog. My next post is on packing, what I’ve discovered after 6 months on the road, so stay tuned…

  2. I agree Lynn. You have an eye for photos from an unusual angle & a great observer. Yes, I can see a book & great success !

    • Thank you, Soraya, you take some pretty nice photos yourself!

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