Just outside the major city of Kyoto in Japan, we can find a magical place called the Sagano Bamboo Forest, a natural forest with walking paths that leaves visitors dazzled by its magic.
Let’s take a closer look at some fun and interesting facts about this astounding forest on the edge of the city, a must-see attraction while you visit this amazing region in Japan!
1. Sagano Bamboo Forest is situated in the western outskirts of Kyoto
Sagano Bamboo Forest is also sometimes called the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, a reference to its location, the Arashiyama district in the western outskirts of Kyoto.
This city is the capital city of the prefecture with the same name and is situated in the Kansai Region on the largest and most populous Japanese island Honshu. The city has nearly 1.5 million inhabitants and is part of the Keihanshin metropolitan area which also includes Kobe and Osaka and has nearly 20 million inhabitants.
Kyoto is considered to be the cultural capital of Japan and was originally the capital of Japan as well until Tokyo (meaning “Eastern capital”) took over its role. It’s a popular tourist destination with multiple temples, palaces, gardens, and fascinating forests.
2. It mostly consists of a particular type of bamboo trees
The Bamboo Forest is a popular spot for tourists to visit as it’s breathtakingly beautiful to walk around in. The forest mostly consists of a particular type of bamboo called “Moso Bamboo” (Phyllostachys edulis).
This type of giant timber bamboo is remarkably not native to the region but originally from China and Taiwan. It has been successfully introduced in large parts of Japan.
It’s really a giant type of bamboo as it can reach heights of up to 28 meters (92 feet) a feature that adds to the remarkable sights inside the forests.
3. There’s something special about the sound these trees make
As you surely noticed already, these trees are situated very closely together in this dense forest. In combination with their height and a bit of wind, this forest makes an incredibly captivating sound.
One of the most amazing facts about the Sagano Bamboo Forest is that this remarkable sound has been included in the “100 soundscapes of Japan.”
This list was put together by the Japanese Ministry of Environment, an official government agency in the country, in an effort for its citizens to listen to the sounds of nature.
4. The pathways in the forest can get really crowded at times
Listening to the sound of the bamboo trees isn’t always as easy as it sounds, mainly because of the large crowds walking on the pathways of this magical place during holidays and weekends.
This means that you really need to come to this place in either the early morning or late evening, and definitely not in the weekends when most Japanese people plan to enjoy a lovely stroll.
5. There’s a famous temple across the river as well
The Bamboo Forest is filled with lovely pathways which allow you to spend a few hours enjoying the magnificent scenery. But this is definitely not the only tourist attraction in the area!
One of the most famous temples in Japan is located across the Katsura River and is called the Tenryū-ji Temple. It’s the most important temple in Kyoto ad the main temple of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism.
This fascinating temple was built between 1339 and 1345 and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1994 due to its cultural and historical significance.
It’s assumed that the temple was built right next to the Bamboo Forest in order to hold back evil forces and for good luck.
6. One of the most famous Japanese actors once lived near the forest
Just west of this amazing temple we can find the former residence of one of the leading actors in early Japanese cinema called Denjirō Ōkōchi (1898-1962).
His lovely villa and gardens in the outskirts of Kyoto have been preserved and now serve as a popular tourist attraction and place to relax with a cup of tea.
Due to its elevated position on the slopes of Mount Ogura, parts of the garden also offer stunning views of the city of Kyoto.
7. Tourists have visited this amazing area since the 8th century
The Arashiyama area of Kyoto has been designated as a National Historic Site and an area of Scenic Beauty by the Japanese government, and that’s no surprise.
The forest-covered hills, scenic views from the Katsura River, and magnificent Bamboo Forest have been popular tourist destinations for wealthy Japanese people since the 8th century.
The most popular attraction was a scenic boat ride in order to admire the wonders of nature, especially to admire the changing seasons’ colors. Unsurprisingly, these boat rides are still very popular today!
8. A bridge near the forest is a great cultural icon of Japan
We mentioned that Kyoto is the cultural capital of Japan, and one of the most prominent cultural icons in the Arashiyama district is a wonderful bridge.
This bridge is called the Togetsukyo Bridge (Moon Crossing Bridge) and crosses the Katsura River near the Bamboo Forest. It was built during the Heian Period in Japan (794-1185) and completely reconstructed in the 1930s.
Japanese people who want to have a remembrance of their visit to the cultural capital of the country take pictures right here, often while wearing traditional colorful kimonos.
9. The monkey park in the forest is home to over 100 special monkeys
Another popular tourist attraction inside the Sagano Bamboo Forest is the Iwatayama Monkey Park. This park is situated on top of Mount Arashiyama, which means it features amazing views of the area and city.
The main attraction of the park is over 120 Japanese macaque monkeys, also referred to as “snow monkeys.” These monkeys are native to Japan and are the most northern-living primates in the world except for humans.
They are easily recognized by their brownish-grey fur and bright red faces.
10. The best way to explore the area is by train
You can go for a walk inside the Bamboo Forest and explore nature, or rent a bicycle and explore the area that way. A very popular method to discover the Bamboo Forest and parts of the Arashiyama district is a steam train.
This train is referred to as the “Sagano Scenic Railway” and is sometimes even referred to as the “Sagano Romantic Train.” The ride runs about 7 kilometers (4.5 miles) and takes about 30 minutes to complete.