Walking Tour: Ambling Through Bamboo Groves & Temples

  • Start Tenryū-ji
  • End Torii-moto bus stop
  • Length About 4km; four hours

Start at Tenryū-ji, where you can explore the temple and admire its stunning 14th-century Zen garden. After checking out the temple, exit via the north gate, turn left and enter the famous Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.

At the top of the hill, you can take a quick detour to check out Kameyama-kōen or enter Ōkōchi Sansō villa, the entrance to which is almost directly in front of you.

Continuing north from Ōkōchi Sansō, head downhill and past Okura-ike pond. Soon after passing the pond, you’ll see the gate of Jōjakkō-ji. After Jōjakkō-ji, walk straight east away from the temple gate, avoiding the temptation to take a left out of the gate and go north. About 100m east of the Jōjakkō-ji gate, take a left (just before a cornfield) and you’ll soon come to Rakushisha, a charming poet’s hut. After Rakushisha, continue north. About 150m further on brings you to the gate of Nison-in.

Return to the main road from Nison-in and follow it gradually northwest for a few minutes. This will bring you to the turn-off for Takiguchi-dera and Giō-ji, two wonderfully atmospheric little hillside temples (there is no English sign here; look for the four stone way markers). After visiting one or both of these temples, return to the main road and continue walking northwest. You’ll soon see the stone steps that lead up to Adashino Nenbutsu-ji on your left. From here, it’s a short walk onward to the huge orange Atago Torii. A lovely spot to refresh yourself is the teahouse, Hiranoya, just north of the torii. You can take bus 62 or 72 back from the Torii-moto bus stop.