Tenryu-ji temple is the largest Zen temple in Kyoto. It is also one of Arashiyama's most impressive attractions. No wonder it's recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Although Tenryu-ji is certainly the most impressive, there are other smaller temples along the street leading to Tenryu-ji and also the other street parallel to it. These smaller temples are also beautiful in their own right and are all worth a visit.
Behind Tenryu-ji Temple is a large, beautifully landscaped garden in all its zen glory. I don't know why or how but I definitely felt at peace while we were leisurely strolling through the gardens. As beautiful as it is, there's an admission fee to enter the gardens (500 JPY per person) and an additional 100 JPY if you want to go inside the buildings.
From the gardens of Tenryu-ji, there's a path with direct access to the bamboo groves.
Aside from the impressive temples, another attraction not to be missed if you're ever in Arashiyama are the BAMBOO GROVES. The Bamboo Groves consist of long winding paths that take visitors through a gorgeous bamboo forest. Even in the midday heat, visitors would feel cool as only dappled sunlight reaches the ground and the walking paths are covered by the canopy of the bamboo tree tops. You'll also hear the loud chirping of cicadas all over the grove. Be prepared to do A LOT of walking so be sure to wear comfortable footwear, especially because some areas go uphill. However, another way to enjoy the bamboo grove is to rent a bike and ride around the area. Unfortunately, this geeky traveller doesn't even know how to ride a bike (*gasp*) so that's a no-go for me. haha.
A short walk from the Bamboo Groves is the Torokko Arashiyama train station, where visitors can get tickets to the scenic Sagano Romantic Train.
No, don't let its name fool you. The Sagano Romantic Train may be called romantic but it's not reserved for couples. Although, I admit the route is definitely a romantic treat thanks to the gorgeous views, the experience is something that the whole family can enjoy. Yeah, even for romance-phobes like myself. Surprised? I know, right?! haha
The Sagano Romantic Train takes you on a scenic train ride along a ravine, through a forest, beneath mountains (through tunnels), and along the banks of the Hozugawa River. Although the sights are gorgeous enough in the summer, imagine all those trees in their fiery autumn garb. That would have been a majestic sight! The railway is also lined by hundreds of cherry blossom trees so the view would also be worth seeing in the Spring. All the more reason to return, right? We got on a covered train car but there's also a fully-open car available if you want to get an unobstructed view of the scenery.
The train runs at a leisurely pace to allow patrons to enjoy and take in the view. It's a bit pricier at 620 JPY (one-way) compared to non-scenic trains but the view is definitely worth the money. If you're up for a bit more adventure, take the bus from the terminal station at Kameoka to the Hozugawa River Cruise Departure Point. Unfortunately we missed the last trip of the River Cruise so we took the train back to Arashiyama.
Cost-cutting and don't want to shell out another 620 JPY for the same view? No worries, you can always hoof it to the JR Station (Umahori Station) around 5 minutes away from the Torokko Sagano Station.