ARASHIYAMA (嵐山) is another place you should not miss when visiting Kyoto. Planning a day trip here is perfect as you can slow down your pace while enjoying the great nature. Remember about the Sagano Romantic Train that I mentioned in my another post (Higashiyama, Gion)? Today we’re going to ride the sightseeing train to Arashiyama.
What is Sagano Romantic Train? This is not a normal train to travels between places. It is a sightseeing train which travel along the Hozugawa river. The tickets can be purchase at any JR ticket office in Kansai only. The seats are limited for each day and usually sold out especially during peak season. If you face the same situation like us, no worry, buy the same day tickets at the Sagano Train station because the there will be standing tickets or the fifth car (open window car) which are only sold at the train station.
Sagano Romantic Train (latest brochure @ April 2017)
Basically there are four stations for Sagano romantic train line: Saga Torokko Station (First station), Arashiyama Torokko Station, Hozukyo Torokko Station and Kameoka Torokko Station (last station). Normally, many people will take JR Sagano line train from Kyoto Station to Saga Arashiyama Staton (JR station) and walk to the Saga Torokko Station for the Sagano Romantic train which is located next to the JR station. However the trip is only lasted for 3 minutes to get down at Arashiyama Station (entrance to Bamboo Forest) for the same price of ¥620. Not worth at all…..
I did some research about it and found out that we can actually ride the train from the last station, Kameoka Torokko (not to be confuse with JR Kameoka Station) to Arashiyama Torokko Station. From Kyoto Station, take the JR train straight to Umahori Station (馬堀駅) and walk to Kameoka Torokko Station (トロッコ亀岡駅).
Kameoka Torokko Station website listed the station opening hour as 9.00 am. Get there before the station open in order to secure the first train tickets departed at 9.29 am. The station actually open before 9.00 am. The station staffs will come in work before 9.00 am. We were allowed to go in the station once the staff opened the gates.
We managed to secure numbered seating at car No. 5. Initially, we plan to buy the standing tickets in the windowed cars (No. 1 – 4). But due to miscommunication with the staff, they gave us the seating at car no. 5. Car no. 5 (The rich) is a open windowed car so it will be windy and cold due to no windows blocking.
After 25 minutes, we reached Arashiyama Station.
Upon exiting the station, just follow the sign to Tenryuji Temple for bamboo forest. Or either just turn left and follow the crowd. It is weird that the bamboo forest is not mentioned on the signage.
Taking pictures without other people appear in your camera scope is very difficult. Everyone will be passing by or pose for their camera along the narrow path. Being patient to wait for the crowd to subsided is not really working as there are always people keep on coming from both directions. This show why the bamboo forest become top sight to visit in Kyoto.
Nonomiya Shrine ((野宮神社)
Toward the end of the bamboo forest, there is a shrine located nearby. Nonomiya Shrine is a purification place for imperial princesses before they taking up their duties at Ise Grand Shrine. It was also mentioned in the famous Tale of Genji.
Nonomiya Shrine is not very big. After a brief visit, we left and exit to the more happening main road. Restaurants, food stalls and souvenirs shops line up along the road to Togetsu-kyo bridge.
Tenryuji Temple (天龍寺)
Admission fee: ¥500/ RM20 (additional ¥300/ RM12 for entrance to the temple)
Opening hours: 8.30 am – 5.30 pm
We are more interested in visiting the temple garden. So we decided to purchase the garden ticket only.
Lunch time…. today our lunch will be on vegetarian soy milk-based meal at Saga Tofu Ine which is located opposite of Tenryuji Temple.
Once we entered the restaurant, we write our name on the small table top located at the waiting area. While waiting, a menu will be given. Order can done in waiting line or can order later when you’re seated.
I ordered the Yuba set where the thick soy milk skin is dipped in the soy milk and served in the bamboo tube. There are two dipping sauce, one is lighter taste while the other is darker and thicker sauce. The set come together with 5 grain rice, white miso soup, Kyoto pickles, side dishes and dessert.
My friends order the different set from mine. They selected the Saga set which is a famous set for the Yodofu (boiled tofu) and Soy Milk Obanzai Nabe – a Kyoto native cuisine. Sorry no actual picture for the soy milk obanzai nabe – forgotten to take picture.
After trying the Kyoto style meal, it’s time for us to take a stroll along the Togetsu-kyo bridge.
In Arashiyama, there is a music box museum (charged entrance fee) and a retail shop selling music box. But it happened to be there another music box shop newly open near the Kimono forest at Randen tram station.
I can’t resist taking pictures of the cute music box although it seem like I’m the only one who is doing it…..hehe. Although they are very attractive, but I did not purchase any of them because they cost few thousands Yen or few hundred ringgit.
We went back to the riverside to take a small break while enjoying the beauty of Arashiyama.
Ooh yeah! Our last destination in Arashiyama is the Kimono Forest located inside the Randen Tram Station. The Randen Arashiyama station is not just a train station. It offers as good resting place. If ‘you’re hungry, you can get some food here. If’ you’re legs are tired, you can soak your legs in the footbath.
The footbath is not guarded by anyone. But there are sign directing anyone who wish to use the footbath to purchase a ticket at the station office (¥200/ RM8). Cheap deal, it come together with a small towel. Remember to wash your legs before entering the water.
Since coming to Japan, I realized that in public places, there are many good signage for guidance. When you’re lost, just look up and there will be signage that will answer your every doubts. The usage of public facility is also based on trust. As what I can interpret from the system apply in the footbath, anyone can use the facility without paying because the area can be freely entered. Now it depends to that person whether honesty win or greedy. Well, it is quite embarrassing moment if being caught.
After a nice 15 minutes soaking in the hot spring, we walked along the Kimono forest which located just right beside the footbath.
This in the new music box shop that I had mentioned earlier. It is located just beside the Kimono Forest.
We ended our memorable trip here. We tried on the tram by taking 1 minute ride from Arashiyama to Randen-Saga Station (¥220/ RM8.80). Then walked to Saga-Arashiyama Station (JR station) and take the JR Sagono line back to Kyoto Station (¥240/ RM9.60). Something difference about this tram is the payment is done in the train itself. Tram ticket can be bought at the ticketing machine or just swipe your ICOCA card inside the train.
Next to Sagano Line platform, we found this shop selling Eki-bento (train bento). Just nice to pack back for our last night dinner in Kyoto.
Overall the presentation look very pretty but since they were pre-prepared and were not heated before eating, the bento taste ordinary only. However it is a good experience having bento in Japan.
On the way back to our apartment, the park that we had been passing by for the past five days, the tree is flowering. Ooh dear, we still able to see the flowers as the tree was bald on our first day encounter. Today marked our final day in Kyoto. We’re transferring to Osaka tomorrow. Stay tune for more stories from Osaka!
NEXT POST: Going to Osaka and a day trip to Nara….