The Hozu-gawa river trip is a great way to enjoy the beauty of Kyoto’s western mountains without any strain on the legs. With long bamboo poles, boatmen steer flat-bottom boats down the Hozu-gawa from Kameoka, 30km west of Kyoto Station, through steep, forested mountain canyons, before arriving at Arashiyama.
Between 10 March and 30 November there are seven trips daily. During winter the number of trips is reduced to four per day and the boats are heated.
The ride lasts around two hours and covers 16km through occasional sections of choppy water – a scenic jaunt with minimal danger. The scenery is especially breathtaking during cherry-blossom season in April and maple-foliage season in autumn.
The boats depart from a dock that is eight minutes’ walk from Kameoka Station. Kameoka is accessible by rail from Kyoto Station or Nijō Station on the JR Sagano (San-in) line. The Kyoto Tourist Information Center provides an English-language leaflet and timetable for rail connections. The fare from Kyoto to Kameoka is ¥410 one-way by regular train and takes around 25 minutes (don’t spend the extra for the express; it makes little difference in travel time).