Kyoto Day Trip: 5 things to do in Arashiyama

Sure travel is still very much limited but for me one thing that has helped me get over the fact that I won’t be traveling for awhile is reading and watching travel related things.

Awhile ago a story broke out that Japan would be paying a portion of travel expenses to tourists visiting the country. This was, unfortunately, not completely true. Instead Japan is considering a campaign to stimulate domestic travel, meaning for those living in Japan visiting other parts of the country. Still, don’t let this dissuade you from what is decidedly one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Here are a few recommendations from my own trip to Japan. Those traveling to Kyoto who want to explore the area surrounding the city center, try a day trip to the Arashiyama district.

Here are 5 things to do on your day trip from Kyoto city to the Arashiyama district.

Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple

Entrance fee: 300 yen; gate opens at 8am and closes at 4:45pm.

There’s a bit of walking and the area feels a little remote but its worth going out of your way to visit. This is a relatively small temple compared to others with some stairs to climb. The temple area is littered with 1200 small stone statues, rakan, that represent Buddha’s disciples. There are many statues with humorous and whimsical faces. It’s fun for visitor to try and find a statue that most resembles you and taking a picture. This is a little known temple and there were not that many visitors which gives you the time to wander and take pictures without having to rush.

Art from the Otagi temple seal

Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple

Entrance fee: 500 yen. The grounds of Adashino are much larger than Otagi. The temple grounds are home to 8000 statues that represent the lost souls who’s bodies were not claimed by family members and were transferred to Adashino. Every year on August 23 and 24 a ceremony takes places to honor these souls. The area of the statues themselves were off limits when I went to visit so you can’t walk among them like you can with the statues at Otagi. However, you can sneak a few pictures of the rows and rows of statues along with the shrine.

The grounds themselves also have more modern Japanese tombstones so I’m assuming at one point the temple served as a modern day cemetery. Along some of the tombstones I could see the curious items people leave for the dearly departed. One tombstone I spotted had a toy samurai sword, a toy car and an action figure along with a little solar powered monkey that moved. Touching mementos like these make you think about who must this person must have been and how the family of the deceased still remembers them.

Daikakuji Temple

Entrance fee: 500 yen. The grounds of this temple are extensive as this use to be an Imperial villa before being converted to a temple. The temple has an extensive garden and access to a tranquil and beautiful pond where you can enjoy the unique scenery the grounds have to offer. Some of the buildings house beautifully painted fusuma doors that very old, some of which are not allowed to be photographed. The temple offers an audio guide in English for those who are interested.

For the temples, don’t forget to ask for the temple seal to add it your your Goshuincho stamp book.

Suggested: Goshuincho- Japanese Stamp Books

Bamboo Grove

The bamboo grove is like feeling you are midway exiting our world and into another while lurking around a spirit from a Hayao Miyazaki film might pop up at any moment. You can get to the grove right from the main street at any time of day. Luckily, I was able to visit at a moment when there were not many people around. Which spirit would you like to stumble upon here?

Street Food

Arashiyama’s main street can get quite crowded although around the time I went there was not that many people which made it easier to enjoy all the shops and street food. For those hungry to try new foods this is for you. It was here I got to try out soy ice cream for the first time and dang it! it was heavenly! If you’re a fan of seafood, see if you can find the stand that sells squid on a stick! Yummy!

For more pictures on the temples and Arashiyama check out my Instagram highlights @thebooklovingpharmacist

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