Arashimaya: Bamboo, Blooms & A Riverside Dream

Mar 29, 2024 | Travel

Our third time in Kyoto was so dreamy, as if it was taken out of a page in a paperback novel.

They say the third time’s a charm. Our third visit to Kyoto was definitely slow and magical.

Being one of Japan’s most famous historical districts, there has always been pressure to go through every tourist spot, temple, shrine, street, etc. We’ve had our fair share of amazing race-ish day trips to Kyoto. So, on our third time here, we’re taking it slow, and the best starting point: The Arashimaya Bamboo Forest.

The Arashimaya Bamboo Forest

We started our Kyoto trip early in the morning, hopping onto a local train from Osaka at around 5:30 AM. With the trains having more stops than a rapid express, it took us around 40 minutes, just in time for the Kyoto sunrise.

Arriving at the main Kyoto station, we transferred trains from the Shinkansen to a local train going to Arashimaya. We went off at Saga-Arashimaya station and walked through our way to the bamboo forest.

We have always loved the Arashimaya bamboo reserve, especially now on a cold winter morning. The place was empty, quiet, and so serene. More than being able to take photos without the crowd, watching the bamboo sway with the wind, hearing the birds all chirping, and walking slowly into the forest is worth waking up early for.

The Arashimaya Park

Walking further into the Bamboo forest, we reached Arashimaya Park. It wasn’t the usual route, but it was definitely one to take. During our last visit here in the summer, it was just all luscious greeneries. This time, we were happily surprised with trees already blooming with beautiful pink and white flowers.

We were initially doubting if Sakura blooms this early in February. Walking further down the road, we saw some signage about the Kyoto Plum Blossom. It was our first time hearing about the Plum Blossoms, and we wish we had known sooner so we could have pushed back our Kyoto trip a bit further into early spring. But even with just a few trees blooming, you can already see their beauty! These trees and flowers are just so beautiful and romantic.

These plum blossoms are as amazing as the cherry blossoms, and might even be better with fewer tourists and a more calm environment. On your next Japan visit, give these plum blossoms some love!

The Oigawa Riverside

After plum tree hopping in the Arashimaya Park and after probably a hundred flower photos (haha), we finally reached the Oigawa River. This is our first time reaching this point. On our first two visits to Kyoto, we’d go back to the main road through the Ryuji temple.

We were so happy to have pushed through the park pathways to the riverside. It wasn’t extraordinary, but it was so picturesque, calm, and just magical.

I’m sure this is just a simple riverside pathway in Kyoto or Japan, but for someone who lives in a country where riverbanks are taken for granted, this simple riverside is beautifully stunning.

We took the time to slow down, as we had hoped for on this trip. We sat on the stone benches and watched the wind blow through the river. Ducks were paddling on the river, and birds were resting on the riverside.

Such a beautiful sight!

Walking further down the pathway, we saw a bunch of beautifully designed modern Japanese houses. These hotels and museums blended in perfectly into the landscape.

On the corner is the famous % Arabica outpost facing the river. It seemed to blend well with the architecture in the area, with the white exteriors allowing a sweet, striking attention. It was around 7 AM when we reached the Arabica output, but they won’t open until 9 AM. We had to return later to get coffee and experience the riverside sunset in Arashimaya.

Sunset at Arashimaya

Late afternoon by the River in Arashimaya is just so picturesque. We finally got our cup of Arabica – signature latte and matcha latte. They go so well with the cold winter breeze. Lines started a bit longer than usual but moved fast eventually. It seems better to order via their app. You can pre-order while on the riverside.

On our next Kyoto trip, we plan to book a hotel around this area and just wake up and close the day with this view and the much-deserved slowness. It was refreshing and amazing to be still in a foreign place and just take everything in.

Side story: Ate Koryn, a good friend of ours, told us to “travel slow.” She’d go to Nepal for a month or somewhere else for weeks. She is the inspiration for this month-long slow trip to Japan.

It was almost dreamy watching the sunset on this side of Kyoto. Sipping a cup of good coffee as the winter breeze hit our faces, watching the sun go down, lights reflecting on the calm rivers of Oigawa, sharing our crazy stories and random thoughts— it was a scene straight out of a novel.

Read about our Kyoto trip here.