Kyoto's Sagano and Arashiyama areas are very popular sightseeing areas with lots of things to see. You'll probably be overwhelmed with where to go and what to see. Here are 5 recommendations for that area.
Jojakko-ji was initially opened on the mountain side of Mt. Ogura in Kyoto's Sagano area on order of Nisshin, the 16th high priest of Honkoku-ji in 1596. Since there's no fence separating the grounds from the forest, it looks like it's melting into the nature of Mt. Ogura, leading to its nickname Hei no Nai Tera ("the temple without walls"). Since you can see all of Sagano and Arashiyama from the observatory deck on the grounds, it's a very popular sightseeing spot. It's also a famous spot for foliage, so every year plenty of travelers flock there. The foliage tunnel that's created by the stone steps that lead from the temple gate to the main temple as well as the graduation of the interweaving trees of varying colors on the slope of the mountain are so beautiful they'll take your breath away.
Business hours: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Entrance fee: 400 JPY
Tenryu-ji was founded in 1339 by Ashikaga Takauji as a memorial to the bodhi Emperor Go-Daigo. It is now registered as a World Cultural Heritage and is the head temple of the Tenryuu branch of Rinzai Zen Buddhism. It prospered as the first of the Kyoto Gozan (the five most important Rinzai temples of Kyoto), but actually it's burned down a few times so most of the original buildings are gone. The famous Sogenchi Teien Garden was created by the first head priest, Muso Soseki, and it's famous because it uses the backdrop of Arashiyama as borrowed scenery. It was also the first place to be registered as a special place of scenic beauty. The section where the valleys of distant mountains can be seen looks like a Japanese painting and no matter how long you stare at it you'll never get tired of the beautiful sight. It's fun to compare the sight of the garden from the Hojo (the abbot's quarters) and what the garden actually looks like. Also, the ceiling of the lecture hall is called Unryuuzu, and it features a stunning piece of art by the famous Japanese artist Matazo Kayama of a dragon staring at all sides. It's a must-see sight.
Business hours: 8:30 am - 5:30 pm
Entrance fee: 500 JPY for high school age and up, 300 JPY for elementary and middle schoolers, free for toddlers and infants
The Hozugawa Kudari (going downstream the Hozu River) is a 16km hand-paddled boat from Kameoka to Arashiyama. This boat ride started in 1606, when the wealthy Kyoto merchant Suminokura Ryoi excavated the Hozu River and created a water channel to transport goods. Since then, it was developed as an important artery in the distribution of goods between Tanba and Kyoto but in the Meiji Era, land transportation became the main route and the river boats turned into a pleasure cruise for sightseers instead. The boatmen admirably command the magnificent rods they use to steer the boat and it's fun to weave through the rapids on this river among the mountains. You can also enjoy the beautiful differences in scenery depending on the season, such as the falling cherry blossoms dancing on he spring breeze or the fiery colors of the autumn foliage. It's not an experience you can have just anywhere, so please think about taking this trip. It will definitely become a great memory.
Fees; 4,100 JPY for adults, 2,700 JPY for children (incl. tax for both prices)
Departure schedule: 9:00 am, 10:00 am, 11:00 am, 12:00 pm, 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, 3:30 pm（Weekends and holidays are subject to change）
3. Hozugawa Kudari
Okochi Sanso is a villa with a stroll garden that has a central pond that took around 30 years to build made by Denjiro Okochi, a film actor from that was famous for starring in historical films in the 1940s and 50s. These grounds are approximately 20,000 square meters wide, and Denjiro spent from 1941 to his death creating the buildings such as the Daijoukaku, the Jibutsudou, and the tea house Tekisuian, as well as planting the greenery and flowers that you can enjoy all year round. Also, you can enjoy the sight of the nearby Arashiyama and the Hozu River ravine from the garden. Inside the grounds there's also a Denjiro Okochi reference museum where you can enjoy images of him dressed as a samurai for his historical films as well as see various documents on display. You also receive tea and a snack with your entrance ticket, so after you tire yourself out from strolling around the gardens, please stop by for a nice break.
Business hours: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Entrance fee: 1,000 JPY for high school age and up, 500 JPY for middle school age and below
4. Okochi Sanso
Houkyou-in is a temple of the Rinzai sect in Sagano that was constructed in the Heian era (794 - 1185) in response to the imperial prayer of Emperor Shirakawa for the spiritual protection of the state and peace for the emperor. If you pass through the still and silent entrance and make your way towards the back, there is a stroll garden with a pond that has many different sorts of vegetation like Japanese maple trees that you can enjoy all year round. It's famous as a place to enjoy the foliage, and in the late autumn to early winter, the trees unfold their changing colors. The sight of the yellow and red falling leaves covering up the white sand and green moss of the gardens is so beautiful you'll hold your breath. Please enjoy this temple and its foliage to your heart's content without thinking about the passing time.
Business hours: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm (in November until 4:30 pm)
Entrance fee: 500 JPY for adults, 200 JPY for middle and elementary schoolers
The Sagano and Arashiyama area is different from the center of Kyoto because it's overflowing with nature, allowing you to enjoy two sides of the city. If you come to Kyoto, definitely make your way to this side of the city. You'll enjoy the new meetings and discoveries you'll make.
*Please note that the prices and other information in the article may not be the most up-to-date information
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.