It was a lazy summer day when we visited the famous, picturesque Arashiyama. Although I had been there numerous times before, I always hold a fascination towards it because of its beauty. Undeniably, one of the most famous attractions in Arashiyama is the romantic Togetsukyo Bridge, also known as the Moon Crossing Bridge. This bridge is notable for its picturesque views of cherry blossoms and autumnal colors on the slopes of Mt. Arashiyama. Interestingly, the name of the river flowing underneath Togetsukyo Bridge changes on either side – west of the bridge is the Hozu River, and east is the Katsura River.
Hozu River Cruise:
If you like boating, there is also a chance to take a ride along the river. There are boats of all shapes or sizes, though make sure you confirm how long they will be, since some can stretch for up to two hours, while a few turn around after only twenty minutes. Also be prepared to get splashed, and take appropriate caution for electronic equipment. The dropout point sets you just outside Iwatayama Monkey Park, another great place to spend the afternoon.
If you don’t like fancy boat rides or are inclined to motion sickness, there are always some young children or couples willing to splash around in the shallow waters of the river during the summer. The water is refreshingly cold, and a picnic along the banks is always a welcome way to pass the day.
Among other river activities, in the summer some fishermen go Cormorant fishing, a most memorable sight! Cormorant fishing is known as Ukai in Japanese. Nowadays, there are only a few people authorized to perform ukai, and it is protected under the Imperial Household Agency. Positions are usually inherited and passed on within each family. The fishermen still wear the same traditional clothing as that which was worn by their ancestors – a straw skirt that repels water, a dark cotton kimono and the kazaorieboshi and the black linen cloth that is wrapped around the head to fend off sparks. Watching ukai is to become immersed in one of Japan’s oldest traditions.
There are also many streets around Arashiyama lined with many delicacy shops and restaurants.
Ride in a Rickshaw!
You can also get a ride in a traditional rickshaw and get a tour around the most famous spots. This area is famous with both Japanese nationals and foreigners alike, and you can often see huge buses driving in with tourists bent on getting a taste of this famous place.
Along with the beautiful river scenery, there are also numerous bamboo forests and famous temples you can visit. Along the memorable shrines to visit, Matsuo Shrine is one of the most popular, being one of the oldest Kyoto shrines, founded in 700. Whether a walk along the river banks or stroll among the crowded streets, at Arashiyama you will be able to get a taste of ancient Kyoto frozen in time.