Sagano Bamboo Forest – The Definitive Guide
One of Japan's most recognisable sightseeing spots, Sagano Bamboo Forest in the magical Arashiyama district of Kyoto is not to be missed. Find out everything you need to know, right here.
Sagano Bamboo Forest is undoubtedly one of Kyoto’s premier attractions and one of Japan’s most recognisable landmarks. Frequently ranked as one of the most beautiful places on earth, the forest’s enchanting beauty more than lives up to its weighty reputation.
Located in the north-west of Kyoto in the gorgeous Arashiyama district, Sagano Bamboo Forest is a breeze to get to and is surrounded by many more must-see attractions. Read on for a full guide to the forest and its surroundings, as well as all the vital information for getting there and enjoying yourself to the fullest.
Sagano Bamboo Forest Overview
The main path through Sagano Bamboo Forest is only about 500 meters long yet the beauty on display is in no short supply. Admittedly, visitors pack the path, all scrambling to get the perfect view or take the perfect snap, but the crowds are well worth it. The thick bamboo, spreading out as far as the eye can see, lends the atmosphere within the grove a unique serenity. Whatever the weather, the forest is magical, but especially when the sun peeks through the gaps and the whole area is speckled with thin rays of light.
The ‘music’ of the bamboo is equally otherworldly. As wind blows through the bamboo, a distictive and sometimes incredibly loud rustling becomes an attraction of its own. Amazingly enough, this sound has been listed as a “sound we must preserve” by the Japanese government.
In December, the Arashiyama Hanatouro takes place. This event lights up a five-kilometer stretch of Arashiyama using traditionally crafted lanterns. Sagano Bamboo Forest is lit up on both sides, highlighting the beauty of the forest whilst emphasising its surreal side. The event lasts for two weeks, between the December 9th and December 18th from 5:00 until 20:30 in the evening.
Sightseeing Spots Near Sagano Bamboo Forest
Arashiyama has long been one of Kyoto’s most prestigious postcodes – a place of immense beauty and thriving culture. Loomed over by the Arashiyama Mountains and adjacent to the flowing waters of the Oi River, it is easy to see why it has been inspiring artists for as long as it has. When in the area, as well as the Sagano Bamboo Forest, take the opportunity to check out some of the other sightseeing spots the area has to offer.
In Japan, shrines and temples are often situated near bamboo groves as a means of warding off evil. Located at the end of the left intersection of the bamboo forest trail, Nonomiya Shrine is one of these shrines. Originally built as a sacred house for the Ise Shrine Priestess, Nonomiya remains a significant shrine and the site of a variety of rituals throughout the year.
Nonomiya is popular for its quiet, peaceful atmosphere, its unique black torii gates and brushwood fences. It is also a good spot from which to set off into the bamboo forest.
At the other end of the Bamboo Forest trail find Okochi-Sanso Villa, the former residence of Denjiro Okochi, a film actor famous in the 1920s and 30s. The residence is a large two-hectare estate with a villa, a magnificent garden and even a teahouse complex (entry includes a fine ceramic bowl of whipped green tea). The views out over Kyoto from Okochi-Sanso are some of the best in the city.
09:00 – 16:00
Located just 15 minutes from Sagano Bamboo Forest on foot, Togetsukyo Bridge, a delightfully traditional wooden structure crossing the Oi River has become a popular sightseeing spot in itself. With the Arashiyama Mountains in the background, the bridge is spectacular, especially during sakura or momiji seasons.
Sagano Scenic Railway
The Sagano Scenic Railway or Sagano Romantic Train runs along a 7.3 km stretch of track, in the most part, parallel with the Hozugawa River between Arashiyama and Kameoka. Running at a slow pace, the 25-minute train ride carries passengers through some of Kyoto’s most magical scenery and is particularly popular in springtime for its great views of the cherry blossoms.
09:oo – 16:00
Closed on Wednesdays, December 30th – February 28th
¥ 620 one way
Map and Access
From Kyoto Station, take the San-In Line and alight at Saga-Arashiyama Station. The journey takes roughly 15 minutes and costs 240 yen. From the station, Sagano Bamboo Forest is a 20-minute walk away and helpfully signposted all the way.