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Where You Should Stay in Arashiyama: Best Areas & Hotels for Visitors

Where You Should Stay in Arashiyama: Best Areas & Hotels for Visitors

Date published: 6 October 2022

Arashiyama is a pleasant tourist destination on Kyoto City’s western side, popular for its beauty, attractions, and landmarks. It is often visited while traveling to Kyoto, but it’s also a great place to stay. Here we’ll share some of the best ryokan inns and hotels in Arashiyama.

Main image: PIXTA

1. Getting to and around Arashiyama

The Saga Toriimoto Preserved Street, around a 20-minute walk north of the Bamboo Forest, is a quiet area with 19th century wooden homes and shops. Photo: PIXTA
The Saga Toriimoto Preserved Street, around a 20-minute walk north of the Bamboo Forest, is a quiet area with 19th century wooden homes and shops. Photo: PIXTA

Arashiyama is easy to get to from Kyoto Station. Taking the JR San-in Line, the ride takes 15 minutes and costs 240 yen (covered under the Japan Rail Pass).

Alternatively, if coming from downtown Kyoto, from Kyoto-Kawaramachi or Karasuma Station, take the Hankyu Line to Katsura Station, then transfer to the Hankyu Arashiyama Line for Arashiyama. The trip will take roughly 20 minutes and cost 230 yen.

Arashiyama can also be accessed by bus or car, but in the interest of being time and cost-efficient, it is easier to get there via rail.

Note that four stations service the Arashiyama area, each on a different rail line. In rough order of convenience to sightseeing places, they are:
・JR Saga-Arashiyama Station (JR San-In Line)
Arashiyama Station (Randen)
Arashiyama Station (Hankyu-Arashiyama Line), and
・Torokko Arashiyama (Sagano Sightseeing Tram).

Getting around Arashiyama
As Arashiyama is a relatively compact area, walking is a convenient way of getting around. To conserve time, renting a bicycle is also recommended. Bicycle rental shops can be found in front of JR Saga-Arashiyama Station, Randen Arashiyama Station, and Hankyu Arashiyama Station.

2. What is Arashiyama like?

Togetsukyo Bridge. Photo: PIXTA
Togetsukyo Bridge. Photo: PIXTA

Arashiyama is a fable-like location just outside of central Kyoto. Even compared to the quiet old capital of Japan, Arashiyama has a relaxing and peaceful feel.

During the Heian period (8th to 12th centuries), it was a resort area used by noble families. The area is surrounded by lush mountains and vibrant seasonal colors. Arashiyama is especially beautiful in autumn when the fall colors shine.

The area features many famous sightseeing locations including the Togetsu-kyo Bridge crossing the Oi-gawa River (Katsura-gawa River), as well as Tenryu-ji Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and Daikaku-ji Temple.

Most visitors will stay in Kyoto and head to Arashiyama for a visit during the day since it’s very easy to get to. However, the Arashiyama area is a great place to stay for those who want to experience a more peaceful vacation while still being able to visit all the best attractions in Kyoto.

3. What to see and what to do in Arashiyama

Arashiyama in spring. Photo: PIXTA
Arashiyama in spring. Photo: PIXTA

Bamboo Forest: A mesmerizing walk on beaten paths leading through a thick bamboo forest. Especially relaxing during the off-season.
Togetsukyo Bridge: One of the town’s most iconic landmarks, Togetsukyo Bridge was built during the Heian Period (794-1185 CE). It’s gorgeous to visit during fall or spring, with a backdrop of cherry blossoms or autumn leaves.
Monkey Park Itawayama: Close to the Togetsukyo Bridge, you will find the entrance to the Monkey Park, with a path leading up to the Arashiyama mountains. The park is a lot of fun and offers a great view of the city.
Sagano Scenic Railway: This popular sightseeing train runs from Arashiyama to neighboring Kameoka, mostly alongside the Hozu River, offering great views of the scenery. It's especially recommended in spring (cherry blossoms) and autumn (fall colors).
Temple Hopping: There are many shrines and temples worth seeing in Arashiyama, including Tenryuji, Daikakuji, Nisonin, Gioji, Jojakkoji, Otagi Nenbutsuji, Adashino Nenbutsuji, and more.
Ukai (cormorant fishing during the summer): The Hozu River in Arashiyama is an attraction in itself. But visit between July and September, and you’ll be able to view from up close the traditional Ukai – a fishing method that employs cormorants (a kind of bird) to catch fish.
Kimono rental: In the Arashiyama area are several kimono and yukata rental shops, where you can get fitted with a kimono before strolling around popular landmarks. The experience makes for a wonderful memory - and great photos.

4. Where to stay in Arashiyama

Photo: PIXTA
Photo: PIXTA

Following are the best, most convenient areas to stay in Arashiyama, listed in rough order by priority, with the most convenient places first.

1. Hankyu Arashiyama Station Area: Staying closer to the mountainside
This is one of the central stations for Arashiyama. This area is well connected to Kyoto and teems with restaurants and cafes. You’ll find several temples, the Monkey Park Iwatayama, and the Togetsukyo Bridge within walking distance.

Recommended places to stay near Hankyu Arashiyama Station

The Kimono Forest near Randen Arashiyama Station has 600 backlit pillars with beautiful kimono textiles. Photo: PIXTA
The Kimono Forest near Randen Arashiyama Station has 600 backlit pillars with beautiful kimono textiles. Photo: PIXTA

2. Randen Arashiyama Station Area/JR Saga-Arashiyama Area: For easy access to many of Arashiyama’s ryokan inns
Across the Katsura River from Hankyu Arashiyama Station, this area is also very convenient. Randen Arashiyama Station is pretty much right in the sightseeing center of Arashiyama and is surrounded by shops and cafes. It’s around a 10-minute walk to the bamboo forest, a 3-minute stroll to Togetsukyo Bridge, and within easy walking distance to several parks and temples.

JR Saga-Arashiyama Station is about a 10-minute walk away from Randen Arashiyama Station. While slightly farther away from the main sightseeing center, it still affords excellent access to the town and is easy to get to from Kyoto Station.

Recommended places to stay near Randen Arashiyama Station/JR Saga-Arashiyama Station

Photo: PIXTA
Photo: PIXTA

3. Mt. Takao Area: For those looking to rest away from the most crowded spots in Arashiyama
Kyoto's Mt. Takao is a sparsely populated area with three historic temples around a 20-minute drive north of JR Saga-Arashiyama Station. Of particular note here is Kozanji Temple, a World Heritage Site that dates back to 774 and is home to what's considered Japan's first manga.

Kyoto's Mt. Takao area is also easily accessed directly by JR bus from JR Kyoto Station. This area is extremely popular during the autumn foliage season.

Recommended places to stay around Mt. Takao

Other places to stay in Arashiyama

6. When is the best time to visit Arashiyama?

Autumn is a particularly popular time of year to visit Arashiyama. (Photo: PIXTA)
Autumn is a particularly popular time of year to visit Arashiyama. (Photo: PIXTA)

Autumn: Arashiyama is a gorgeous natural oasis all year round, but it becomes particularly vibrant in fall, when the trees dotting the surrounding mountains start taking on their red hues. See our Fall Foliage Forecast for peak times.

Spring: A close second is the cherry blossom season, usually between March and April. There are many spots where you can spend all the time you want walking among beautiful cherry trees in bloom (and the temperatures will also be very friendly). See our Cherry Blossom Forecast article for peak times.

Summer: If you’re interested in festivals, traditional food stands, and the unique Ukai, summer is also a fun option. Note that Kyoto can be rather hot and humid at this time of year, however.

7. Where to stay if hotels in Arashiyama are booked

Arashiyama has several shops selling tasty take-out sweets, from crepes to ice cream. Photo: PIXTA
Arashiyama has several shops selling tasty take-out sweets, from crepes to ice cream. Photo: PIXTA

As a popular tourist destination, Arashiyama has a variety of places to stay that are perfect for visitors of all tastes and budgets. However, the number of facilities at which to stay is comparatively fewer than in other areas around Kyoto, and in peak seasons, accommodations can fill up quickly.

If you are unable to find a place to stay in central Arashiyama, you might consider browsing for hotels around the JR Nijo Station or Randen Shijo-Omiya areas, both of which have convenient access to Arashiyama.

For more information on where to stay in Kyoto, see our article below.

Written by:

Lucio Maurizi

Lucio Maurizi

Lucio Maurizi is an Italian writer, photographer, and streamer. He spent 10 years in the United States and currently lives in Japan, focusing on creating articles and channels dedicated to the Land of the Rising Sun. He loves any form of storytelling, natto, and wasabi, and is desperately trying to make time to work on his novel. On Instagram @that_italian_guy_in_japan.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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