The Secret To Visiting Arashiyama Bamboo GroveThe Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is a mystical and magical forest in Kyoto. Bamboo on either side of you reaches to the heavens and scrapes the sky. A beam of sunlight shines through the canopy. But then you bring your eyes back down, and all you see is people people people. The narrow walkway is full of tourists posing for photos with their friends. It’s impossible to get a nice shot. How are you supposed to get a clear shot of the bamboo without any people in it? This post will tell you one secret to getting people-free photos in Arashiyama. Hint: it’s not such a big secret.

About Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is a small bamboo forest in Kyoto, Japan. You can easily get here from the Arashiyama area, where there is more shopping, a temple, a monkey park, and a river boat ride. Inside the bamboo grove, you instantly feel cooler, as the bamboo shades you from the summer sun. If you come in the summer, that is. Walking through the forest is a lovely way to spend a half an hour, and you can feel the magic of the bamboo forest. If you are lucky, you will a see Japanese couple strolling through wearing yukatas. It’s also cool to hear the bamboos clinking against each other in the breeze.

But, you will probably immediately notice, there are a LOT of people there. The crowds of people take away some of the magic, and you feel a little disappointed. I’ve been to Arashiyama Bamboo Grove two times, and the second time was much less crowded than the first time. The first time I went, there were so many people, who I didn’t want in my photos, that I only ended up taking photos pointing straight up. It’s cool, but it would be nice if you could see the bottoms of the bamboos:

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

But there is a way to visit Arashiyama Bamboo Grove and have a *mostly clear shot.

The (not so) secret is to go to Arashiyama Bamboo Grove? Go later in the day

The second time I went, it was around 6:00 PM. I had just arrived in Arashiyama after taking a fun river boat ride, and decided to stroll around for a few minutes. I finally went into the forest around 6, and it was not nearly as crowded as it had been the first time. There were a few people left before it started to get too dark to take any photos, but for the most part, it was not too crowded. I could even get a few shots of the path and the brown grass around the bottom of the bamboos.

>> Another nice place in Kyoto is Heian Shrine

The second time I went, I wandered around the forest feeling a bit lost. Truthfully, I was starting to get a bit scared that I wouldn’t be able to find my way out at the right place. No, I didn’t want to get stuck in the dark bamboo forest over night. (I know that wouldn’t happen, but I get scared easily.) But after feeling mostly satisfied that I had enough good photos of bamboo for the day, I followed the sound of the train bells and made my way out of the forest. I even found a mini torii gate in the middle of the forest.

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

A downside to visiting Arashiyama Bamboo Grove later in the day?

There is a downside to visiting later in the day though, and it’s that it’s getting dark and therefore more difficult to take photos. I was struggling to find enough lighting at times, and as a result some of my pictures are a bit dark. Plus, it’s just a bit dark in there anyway, because it’s a forest.

What about the morning?

If you are not interested in going here in the evening, you might also have luck in the morning  with less crowds. I’m not  into the idea in waking up super early and going to Kyoto in the morning. But if you are a person who prefers doing things in the morning, you might have the forest all to yourself if you come just after sunrise. I can’t guarantee though – I’m just guessing.

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What’s the lesson here?

  • If you go Arashiyama Bamboo Grove during the day, it will be busy and you will have a hard time taking pictures without people in them. But you can still get nice pictures of the bamboo. And if you don’t care about having strangers in your photos, go nuts.
  • If you go in the evening just before sunset, there will be less people. It will be a bit darker though and maybe difficult to take photos.
  • Early in the morning might be a good time too…? Please let me know if you’ve been in the morning. Was it busy?

With this *surprising bit of travel information in your arsenal, now you can visit Arashiyama at the right time of day. I hope you can avoid a crowd!

Have you ever been to Arashiyam Bamboo Grove in Japan? If you have, what time of day was it, and what were the crowds like?

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The Secret To Visiting Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

Author

Jennifer has lived in Japan for a total of seven years. She has travelled, taught English, studied Japanese, completed a Master's Degree, and travelled some more. She currently calls Nagoya her home, where she lives with her Japanese husband.

13 Comments

  1. I was there Oct 13 last year. I guess I got there at 10:00 and it was packed. However the garden at the Okochi-Sanso villa was virtually deserted, as were the back streets and a couple of small temples in town. I woulnd up back in the forest mid-afternoon and while it was busy it wasn’r quite as bad.

    • That’s about the same time I went the first time. I had a morning ice cream cone before going in to the forest. I didn’t know it was going to be as busy as it was. Later in the day seems like a better time to go. There are lots of things you can do there to spend a day before going into the forest at the end of the day.

  2. I thought Arashiyama was really overrated. So many people and there are so many other places to see bamboo in the area – temples and gardens with hardly any people at all. You got lovely photos though!

    • The crowds make it a lot less special, don’t they? You know, I once stumbled upon another bamboo forest that I liked better than Arashiyama. My husband, my dad, and I were driving back to Nagoya from Nara one day, and I saw patches of bamboo forests in between the rice fields. I wanted to stop, so we jumped over ditches and started exploring around in these bamboo forests. I think they might have been on someone’s private property, teehee. But it was really cool because the bamboo was just as tall and majestic, but there was no path. You could just walk among the bamboos in their natural setting. It was quite and calm and just the three of us marvelling at the bamboo. A few had fallen over, and the floor was covered in fallen bamboo leaves. And it was getting close to sunset, so everything had a beautiful colour to it. Obviously, we were the only ones there (we probably shouldn’t have been there). But I will forever remember that bamboo experience as more authentic and peaceful than Arashiyama. The photos there were nicer than Arashiyama too.

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