Explore the Sagano Bamboo Forest

Sagano Bamboo Forest, Ukyō-ku, Japan

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    Year Round

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A short yet surreal trail, the Sagano Bamboo Forest twists and turns through thousands upon thousands bamboo stalks. There's nothing quite like it in the world. 

Stepping into the bamboo forest in Arashiyama, Japan is a surreal moment. Thousands upon thousands of bamboo trees line a trail which cuts right through the center of the forest. With 30 yards of bamboo on either side of you, the bamboo seems to engulf the sound, light, and your surroundings - transporting you to a place a serenity and an almost zen-like state as you explore it. 

Located in Arashiyama, on the outskirts of Kyoto, the Sagano Bamboo forest is a popular destination for those staying in and around Kyoto. To get to the bamboo forest, you’ll take the JR Sagano/San-in Line to Saga-Arashiyama Station. If embarking from the main Kyoto station, the train will take approx. 17 minutes and cost 240 yen. Once at the Saga Arashiyama station, the bamboo forests are a 10 minute walk. You’ll head almost due west from the station towards the forest. 

While the forest itself is impressive, the trail is only 500 meters (1/4 mile); a much shorter walk than you anticipate when you arrive. A gingerly walk through the bamboo forest takes about 5-7 minutes. During the day, the trail can be packed with people. If you want to truly experience the forest, I HIGHLY recommend going before sunrise or at sunset. Both allow the trail to be far less populated and allow for a more peaceful, more secluded experience altogether.

I experienced the forest both at sunset and at sunrise. Sunset allows for some interesting colors amongst the bamboo. In the 50 minutes I spent walking, taking pictures and enjoying my surroundings during sunset, I saw a total of 30 people walking through bamboo forest. Once the sun sets, sitting it the pitch black of the forest is a unique experience as well. However, going prior to sunrise and experiencing dawn within the forest would be my recommendation. In the 2 hrs I spent pre-dawn and sunrise, I saw a total of 5 people pass through the trail. Setting up a camping chair in the middle of the trail and listening to the bamboo, watching the colors of the forest change with the light, and taking in the moment was unbelievable.

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This place was beautiful! Busy, but still incredible. We didn't even know where the bamboo forest was until we stumbled across it while visiting the temple. Note to future travelers: Don't bother going into the temple (if you've been in temples before). It's wide open and faces the garden, so you can see everything from the garden anyway (which is magnificent with the vibrant pops of color, a great contrast to the stark green bamboo). The forest is at the very end of the garden, and combined it makes a wonderful and leisurely afternoon.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Michael Gabbert Explorer

Minnesotan. Livin' in the North. Email: mjgabbert@gmail.com

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