One of Kyoto’s most popular tourist attractions is the Sagano Bamboo Forest. Although it’s located a bit out of the way from the central Kyoto area, travelers don’t seem to mind making the hour long trek out to Arashiyama to check out the famed destination.
We visited late on a Saturday morning, which ended up putting us right in the middle of a horde tourists. It’s pretty simple to take the JR Sagano line from Kyoto Station to Saga-Arashiyama Station. From there, the bamboo forest is less than 10 minutes away by foot.
Bamboo forests are prevalent all throughout the Kyoto area, but this particular one has a walking path that takes you right through the middle of the bamboo stalks.
Right before the entrance to the main section of the forest is a Japanese garden where, for around $5, you can purchase entry to walk through, see native Japanese plants, and visit a temple that sits next to the forest.
As you return to the path and walk further into the forest, the bamboo stalks get thicker, gradually blocking out more and more of the sunlight overhead.
In the darkest part of the path, the bamboo stalks are thick and strong, but stand together to form a clean and delicate looking forest that is completely different from anything we have in the states. In fact, it’s pretty much the complete opposite of the drought-ridden desert landscape I’m now accustomed to seeing in Los Angeles.
If you (and the people around you) are quiet enough, you can hear the bamboo creaking and rustling peacefully as the wind blows through their leaves. This sound has actually been voted as one of Japan’s “100 Soundscapes of Japan,” and is something I don’t think I’ll ever be able to hear anywhere back at home.
The forest’s walking path is not too long, and within a few minutes you can stroll through the entire area.
The bamboo forest is definitely something I’d recommend to those visiting Kyoto, but the experience will be drastically different depending on what time of day you go. Try and set out early in the morning before 8 am and arrive before the tour buses and main crowd whose chitter chatter and vocal attempts to take group selfies will dampen the precious sound (or lack thereof) of the Sagano Bamboo Forest.