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Arashiyama picture in Kyoto
Arashiyama picture in Kyoto
Okochi-Sanso Villa picture in Kyoto
Bamboo Forest picture in Kyoto
Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama picture in Kyoto
Arashiyama picture in Kyoto
Arashiyama picture in Kyoto
Okochi-Sanso Villa picture in Kyoto
Bamboo Forest picture in Kyoto
Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama picture in Kyoto

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  • Neighborhood/Area Type
  • Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
4.3
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  • Value
    5.0
  • Food Scene
    4.0
  • Atmosphere
    4.5

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Arashiyama is a quaint neighborhood surrounded by trees and mountains on the western edge of Kyoto. The neighborhood's most iconic landmark is the wooden Togetsu-kyo Bridge, which has spanned the Katsura River since 1934. It makes a great spot for admiring cherry blossoms or changing fall foliage, depending on the season, though some visitors seem less than impressed with the bridge. If you want to avoid the tourist crowds that congregate on the bridge, consider renting a paddle boat to enjoy the scenery from the water. On either end of the bridge are a number of shops, restaurants, temples and gardens to explore. Some recent visitors enjoy walking around and taking in the sites, but others suggest renting a bike. You can get one for the day for around 1,000 yen (about $9) near train stations in Kyoto.

A visit to Arashiyama can be overwhelming, as there is so much to do and see here. It's best to arrive with a plan of action, and to not try to fit too many activities into one day. For example, you won't want to miss a stroll through the area's lush, peaceful bamboo groves, which recent visitors highly recommend. Once you're through the bamboo, you'll find yourself at Okochi Sanso Villa, a beautifully landscaped former residence of Japanese actor Okochi Denjiro. You can tour Denjiro's mossy, manicured gardens daily from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and the admission price of 1,000 yen (about $9) includes matcha green tea and cake (make sure you keep your admission ticket to enjoy this).

Another must-see attraction in Arashiyama is the Monkey Park Iwatayama. A troupe of 130 wild Japanese macaques (or snow monkeys) calls the park home. You can visit them any day of the week from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. in the spring and summer, or until 4 p.m. in the winter. Admission is 550 yen (about $5) for adults and 250 yen (about $2) for children ages 4 to 15. Children younger than 4 can monkey-watch for free. For more information about Monkey Park Iwatayama, visit the park's website.

To reach Arashiyama, you can take a taxi or use public transportation. To reach the area via bus, hop on Kyoto City Bus No. 28 at Kyoto Station and get off at the Arashiyama-Tenryuji-mae station. You can also take the subway, though you'll have to do a couple of transfers to reach Arashiyama.

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#1 Fushimi Inari Shrine As far as Shinto shrines go (there are about 400 in Kyoto), this one is pretty special. Perched on a wooded hillside in southern Kyoto, Fushimi Inari is a 1 ... Read more » Puripat Lertpunyaroj / Getty Images

#2 Kiyomizu Temple Situated on Otowa Mountain in eastern Kyoto, Kiyomizu Temple wows travelers with its stunning natural scenery, which visitors say is best viewed from the verandah off the temple's main ... Read more » toey19863 / Getty Images

#3 Gion Recent visitors to Gion were in awe of its quaintness (though some travelers note that hordes of camera-wielding tourists can detract from the scenery). This neighborhood is known for its ... Read more » Michael H / Getty Images

#4 Arashiyama Arashiyama is a quaint neighborhood surrounded by trees and mountains on the western edge of Kyoto. The neighborhood's most iconic landmark is the wooden Togetsu-kyo Bridge, which has spanned ... Read more » DoctorEgg / Getty Images

#5 Ryoanji Temple Every day, hundreds of people visit Ryoanji Temple to see its Zen rock garden – which is probably the most famous of its kind in Japan. Located in Kyoto's northern ... Read more » Stanislav Komogorov / Shutterstock

#6 Nishiki Market For those unfamiliar with Japanese cuisine, a trip to Nishiki Market can be an overwhelming experience. This bustling, five-block-long covered market is lined with more than 100 stalls, each one ... Read more » annhfhung / Getty Images

#7 Nijo Castle After years of bitter strife, the aging samurai lord Tokugawa Ieyasu finally wrested power from Japan's many warring clans and unified them at the turn of the 17th century ... Read more » wolfmaster13 / Shutterstock

#8 Sanjusangendo Hall At nearly 400 feet, Sanjusangendo Hall is the longest wooden structure in Japan (there are archery contests held along the length of the hall every yeah). And lining its lengthy ... Read more » erysimum9 / Flickr

#9 Philosopher's Walk Honoring Japanese philosopher Nishida Kitaro, who used to stroll here on his commute to Kyoto University in the early 20th century, the Philosopher's Walk is a roughly mile-long pathway ... Read more » Tupungato / Shutterstock

#10 Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) Its top two floors swathed in gold leaf, the Golden Pavilion sits pretty in Kyoto's northern reaches, overlooking the glassy surface of Mirror Lake. Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu lived in ... Read more » wolfmaster13 / Shutterstock

#11 Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion) Unlike the very literally named Golden Pavilion, the Silver Pavilion is not actually silver – though it was intended to be. Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa, who built Ginkaku-ji in 1482 as his retirement ... Read more » SeanPavonePhoto / Shutterstock

#12 Kyoto International Manga Museum Many of Kyoto's top attractions pay homage to a Japan of the past, but the Kyoto International Manga Museum focuses on a very current form of Japanese art. Manga ... Read more » kento.ikeda / Flickr

# Nanzen-ji Temple Read more » mura / Getty Images

# Shoren-in Temple Read more » Mathieu Thouvenin / Flickr

# Kyoto Botanical Garden Read more » greenantphoto / Getty Images

Fushimi Inari Shrine picture in Kyoto
Kiyomizu Temple picture in Kyoto
Geisha in Gion picture in Kyoto
Arashiyama picture in Kyoto
Ryoanji Temple picture in Kyoto
Stalls at Nishiki Market picture in Kyoto
Nijo Castle picture in Kyoto
Sanjusangendo Hall picture in Kyoto
Philosopher's Walk picture in Kyoto
Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) picture in Kyoto
Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion) picture in Kyoto
Kyoto International Manga Museum picture in Kyoto
Nanzen-ji Temple picture in Kyoto
Shoren-in Temple picture in Kyoto
Kyoto Botanical Garden picture in Kyoto
Fushimi Inari Shrine picture in Kyoto
Kiyomizu Temple picture in Kyoto
Geisha in Gion picture in Kyoto
Arashiyama picture in Kyoto
Ryoanji Temple picture in Kyoto
Stalls at Nishiki Market picture in Kyoto
Nijo Castle picture in Kyoto
Sanjusangendo Hall picture in Kyoto
Philosopher's Walk picture in Kyoto
Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) picture in Kyoto
Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion) picture in Kyoto
Kyoto International Manga Museum picture in Kyoto
Nanzen-ji Temple picture in Kyoto
Shoren-in Temple picture in Kyoto
Kyoto Botanical Garden picture in Kyoto

The 2½-mile path up Mount Inari to the Fushimi Inari Shrine is lined with nearly 10,000 vermilion lacquered torii gates. The trail is gorgeous at any time of day, but at dusk the path takes on an eerie aura that many visitors find intriguing. Puripat Lertpunyaroj / Getty Images

Kiyomizu Temple boasts some pretty spectacular views of eastern Kyoto's forests. Visit in the spring for the pink cherry blossoms or the autumn for the colorful leaves. toey19863 / Getty Images

In central Kyoto's Gion neighborhood, you can find all the trappings of imperial Japan: wooden tea houses, cherry tree-lined streets and, of course, geisha. Michael H / Getty Images

A charming, hilly neighborhood on Kyoto's western border, rural Arashiyama and its wooded parks make for a pastoral escape from the city's more modern elements. DoctorEgg / Getty Images

When you think "Zen" you might imagine a perfectly raked rock garden  and Ryoanji Temple has one of the most famous rock gardens in the world. Contemplate the garden's meaning or just snap a photo. Stanislav Komogorov / Shutterstock

Looking for some tasty Japanese fare? Look no further than Nishiki Market, a five-block-long shopping area in central Kyoto that sells everything from seafood to tofu ice cream. annhfhung / Getty Images

Built by the first Tokugawa Shogun in 1603, Nijo Castle is famous for its "nightingale floors," which were designed to "chirp" under even the lightest footstep to warn the shogun of intruders. wolfmaster13 / Shutterstock

The longest wooden building in Japan, Sanjusangendo Hall is lined with 1,000 statues of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. erysimum9 / Flickr

Follow Philosopher's Walk in the Higashiyama district to stroll in the footsteps of 20th-century Japanese philosopher Nishida Kitaro. Tupungato / Shutterstock

Kinkaku-ji's gold-leafed facade reflects in Mirror Lake in northern Kyoto.  wolfmaster13 / Shutterstock

It may not actually be silver, but the Silver Pavilion is still beautiful. You can't go inside, but you can admire this shrine from the moss garden and the sandy Zen garden. SeanPavonePhoto / Shutterstock

The Kyoto International Manga Museum features a massive collection of Manga-style comics from all around the world. kento.ikeda / Flickr

mura / Getty Images

The Shoren-in Temple is favored by visitors for its lack of crowds and intricate gardens. Mathieu Thouvenin / Flickr

If you need a break from Kyoto's crowded temples, past visitors suggest you head for the Kyoto Botanical Garden. greenantphoto / Getty Images

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