The Bamboo Forest of Kyoto

I’d done my research and I knew about the 17 UNESCO Heritage sites in Kyoto, the 1,500 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, the ancient traditions that still inform the daily lives of the people, the tea ceremony, the flower arranging, and of course, the geishas, that in Kyoto showcase the heart and soul of traditional Japan.  All of that I saw and wondered at, but nothing prepared me for the beauty of the green bamboo glade through which we walked on our second day in the city, the tranquillity, the sighing of the leaves and the faint sounds of birds hidden in the branches.

Bamboo-forest,-Arashiyama,- (2)

If you’ve seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon you will have gained some idea of what this place is about:  I found it totally magical.  Higashiyama is the main tourist area with the best shopping, the major artisan shops and the top heritage temples and shrines to visit, but because of this, it is mostly bustling and busy.  So a short bus ride to Western Kyoto to Arashiyama to experience the wonder of this bamboo forest is the perfect antidote to the crowds.

Bambool Trail


Infinite stalks of thick, green, bamboo stretch endlessly ahead, a forest of trees unlike any other forest you will see.  There is a sense of otherworldliness in the place and a strange quality to the light which is impossible to capture in photographs.

From Green to Black - Under the Bamboo

Everyone I spoke to was disappointed with the images they produced from their cameras, but it’s just impossible to capture something so intangible.

Kimona Clad Locals sightseeing in Bamboo Forest


Japan has many natural beauties, the cherry blossom in spring, the dazzling palette of red and gold leaves in the autumn, and the scenic splendour of the snow-covered Japanese Alps, but the Bamboo Forest in Kyoto, the old capital of Japan, a city that moves to an entirely different rhythm from the rest of Japan, is my choice for top attraction in that land of much beauty.





12 thoughts on “The Bamboo Forest of Kyoto”

  1. I enjoyed reading your post and seeing the photos as I was reminded of being there two years ago. Yes, a wonderful place. Thank you. Thank you for liking my blog too. I am pretty new to all this! Your great intro – ‘about me’ has made me think about amending mine.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes it is. A little bit more research would have given us the time to avoid the coach parties that converge on the forest, but being Japanese they respect the area and are not usually noisy. Also, they like moving in crowds so you can just wait them out or tag along behind. We managed a bit of both.


  3. Not so long ago, Jo, only last year. In June 2016, the much longed-for trip to Japan finally became possible when friends of many years, two fairly young men, asked me to go on the 3-week tour they’d organized, travelling via bullet train and car. Highly flattered at their wish to have this ancient along with them, I accepted before they changed their mind. Best part was walking in the Japanese Alps (posted in Juluy 2016) something few foreigners do. I’ve still got a lot to write about, but other things get in the way. Thanks for liking it.


  4. This must have been a while ago, Mari? I’d never heard of this forest but Japan (and in particular, Kyoto) has always been a dream destination for me. This looks quite surreal. Thanks for sharing. 🙂 🙂


  5. Thanks. Annabel. I saw the film on TV shortly before I went to Japan so it was quite vivid in my mind’s eye. Unfortunately, for me to get pictures without the people I would have had to wait for ages as they were all taking selfies – at least 20 a piece! And it wasn’t just me, I was with two friends without whom I wouldn’t have been able to make the trip so didn’t feel I could hang about too much..


  6. I was trying to remember when that film came out, so looked it up. 2000! It doesn’t seem so long ago. Maybe you are disappointed with your pictures, but they look wonderful- especially the first one with no people. Other-worldly.


  7. Well spaced out though, and not half as many as crowd the temples. It’s only when you get a coach party of Koreans arrive that you are aware of the crods.


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