Ryokan in Kyoto

October 17, 2016

by Sakura Hatsuta, Risa Hasegawa, and Kensuke Nagai

Nowadays, tourists who come to Kyoto are increasing. They are not only Japanese, but also foreign people. Therefore, Kyoto needs to have hotels as much as possible, although there are a lot of hotels now. Most of the hotels in Kyoto are Western style. However, there are also places to stay in which foreign tourists can experience Japanese life style. That is Ryokan. They can know about Japan from many Japanese style buildings, World Heritages sites, temples, Japanese foods and many kinds of Japanese souvenirs. However, if foreign tourists want to know and experience more traditional Japanese way of life, it is better to stay in a Ryokan. The most important difference between Ryokan and the regular hotel is that guests sleep on the floor on the sleeping mats which for some people are very convenient and comfortable, and the floor is usually Tatami. Tatami is the floor covering of traditional Japanese houses and temples. Similar to a straw mat, it is made of several rice straw layers, interlaced and compressed, and covered with a thin layer of a rush called igusa(Juncus effusus) which is also laced. In addition, you cannot walk in your shoes in the Ryokan, but slippers are provided. That way the place is cleaner, and it actually feels like you are in somebody’s house rather than in a hotel. In your room you will find yukata, which is a Japanese robe similar to kimono, which you can put on while you are in the Ryokan.

Leave your shoes in the genkan and put on some slippers.

Leave your shoes in the genkan and put on some slippers.

Ryokan offer delicious traditional Japanese meals.

Ryokan offer delicious traditional Japanese meals.

A futon bed on tatami in a ryokan.

A futon bed on tatami in a ryokan.

First, there is a long history of Ryokan. As I said before Ryokan is traditional Japanese style inn. It is now everywhere in Japan but especially Kyoto has a lot. Ryokan has been part of Japanese culture since the Edo period, which is 1603 to 1868. The Edo period was the first long period of domestic peace in Japan. It made domestic travel safe for the first time in Japanese history. People began to travel around Japan so Ryokan welcome these tired travelers who needed to rest and eat something before continuing their long travels. That is one main reason that Ryokan was born. As time went on, there came to be many Ryokan at various areas in Japan. However these were only for wealthy people at that time because it was pretty expensive to stay in them and not many people had money for travel around Japan. Some Ryokan were very simple – just people with extra rooms in their homes for travelers. In any situation those owners worked hard for making their guests feel as welcome as possible. They can still do the same today. When the Meiji period began, there came to be hotels, which were western style inns. These were imported from western countries to Japan. Therefore hotels became more common than Ryokan but even if Japan has many more hotels than Ryokan, these old style accomodations still play an important role in the tourism industry. Also Ryokan has not really changed their traditional style from Edo period. It sometimes depends on which Ryokan but most of them are have almost the same style. As an example, they usually have Futon (sleeping quilts), Shoji (sliding Japanese doors), Zabuton (sitting cushions), Tokonoma (an ornamental alcove built into the wall used for placing flower vases and hanging scrolls), Oshiire (a closet for futon sleeping quilts), Engawa (enclosed sitting area separated from the room Shoji) and agari-kamachi (after opening the door guests step into this small area and take off their shoes). These styles have not changed for a long time and even now a lot of people, especially people from overseas, enjoy staying Ryokan because they can experience Japanese culture. We should more take care of such traditional Japanese style inns and pass on this enjoyment to next generations.

What do you have in your imagination about Kyoto? Many foreign touists expect to see Kinkakuji temple or Ginkakuji temple, of course those are very famous in the world. However, Kyoto has more wonderful places in many ways. So we recommend the most Japanese-style hotel in Kyoto that is kadensyo in Arashiyama. The dish in this hotel uses local produce, therefore we can experience delicious local foods. There is a good onsen and it is near Arashiyama station, so the place is popular with many temples, especially Tenryuji temple, Seiryoji temple and so on. We can see those temples lighted up beautifully in the winter season, many foreign travellers come to see them with their family or partner. Of course, Japanese visitors come to look at them, too. Any other romantic place is togetsukyo bridge, that is just a bridge, but it is beautiful at night , especially when it may be lighted up in the winter season. However, in summer we can see cormorant fishing and in fall we can enjoy autumn colors. The cormorant is a bird which is trained to catch fish and bring it back to a boat. Tame cormorants often catch sweetfish, and they can be seen from Togetsukyo bridge with someone. And togetsukyo is famous place for wedding proposal, so many couple of boyfriend selects there for speaking special words.

Many old buildings or houses are being destroyed to make new hotels in Kyoto. However, we had better to keep those buildings or houses. That is because we can make Ryokan by using them and increase the number of them. If there are more Ryokan in Kyoto, foreign tourists can find those places easily and feel free to stay. In addition, to let foreign tourists who come to Japan know and understand more Japanese culture or Japanese life style, we should recommend them to stay Ryokan rather than stay in regular western style hotels.

Il parco delle scimmie di Arashiyama

Ad Arashiyama, nella parte occidentale di kyoto, c’è un parco di macachi giapponesi su una piccola montagna. Il parco è un paradiso per le scimmie. Attualmente ci sono circa 130 macachi, e ad ognuno è stato dato un nome diverso.

I macachi giapponesi (Macaca fuscata, in giapponese nihonzaru) sono una specie di scimmie diffuse nell’arcipelago giapponese, anche nelle regioni settentrionali, per cui sono chiamate anche scimmie delle nevi. Nessun’altra scimmia al mondo vive in latitudini così alte e in climi così fredde come le scimmie giapponesi. Nelle zone con sorgenti termali, d’inverno le si puòvedere spesso fare il bagno nell’acqua calda per difendersi dal freddo.

Tutti i macachi giapponesi del parco vivono allo stato selvatico, e vi si possono vedere fino a 100 diverse specie di animali selvatici. Per esempio, ci sono tante specie di uccelli selvatici e cervi.

C’è un luogo in cui si possono osservare le scimmie che si riuniscono per mangiare, ed è anche un belvedere da cui si domina con lo sguardo tutta Kyoto. Il panorama è stupendo, ed è ideale per fare fotografie. Ci sono anche scivoli e altri giochi per i bambini.

Anche la vista lungo la strada che conduce alla cima della montagna è affascinante, e cambia col mutare delle stagioni: in primavera vi si possono ammirare i fiori di ciliegio e le foglie nuove, in autunno le foglie rosse degli aceri. Inoltre il parco è vicino al famoso ponte Togetsukyo (渡月橋), una delle attrazioni turistiche principali di Arashiyama.

Se siete a Kyoto, ogni tanto provate a lasciare la metropoli e venire al parco per godervi un momento piacevole nella calma della natura sulle montagne di Arashiyama.

Tariffa d’ingresso

Adulti:  550 yen

Bambini (4 anni- 15 anni): 250 yen


Dalla stazione di Arashiyama della ferrovia Randen (嵐電)  ci vogliono 5- 10 minuti a piedi.

Dalla stazione di Hankyu Arashiyama della ferrovia Hankyu (阪急) ci vogliono 5 minuti a piedi.


Arashiyama genrokuzancho 8

Kyotoshi, Kyoto  616-0007 Giappone

(〒616-0007 京都市西京区嵐山元録山町8)
Tel&Fax: 075-872-0950

One Day in Arashiyama

A Midsummer Walk in the Serene

 Mountains of Northern Kyoto

by Yuka Yamazaki

Look at around you. What do you see? Through the window might be towering skyscrapers and noisy roads congested with traffic. Your coworkers might be clearing those last stacks of files and shutting down their computers as they get ready to vacate the office, or perhaps a group of screaming, hyperactive kids are playing among a jungle of toys strewn across your living room floor.

Had enough? I know just what you need: a peaceful retreat where you can relax, breathe the fresh air and feel at ease in your mind.

Arashiyama in Kyoto, Japan, is a very popular tourist destination, and therefore might not seem to be a place where one can easily relax and escape the hectic urban lifestyle, but I will show you that there is another way to enjoy this beautiful scenic location.

Now, let us begin our day-long midsummer walk in Arashiyama.

We disembark at Hankyu Arashiyama Station and make our way to Togetsu-kyo Bridge, about 10 minutes away. Togetsu-kyo in Japanese means ‘Moon Crossing Bridge’, and was named such by the Emperor Kameyama in the 13th century. It is a famous sightseeing spot in Kyoto, so while the surrounding landscape might be lovely, the sight of so many tourists and vendors on and around the bridge makes you feel queasy. It’s time to take a different route. So, let’s cross the Togetsu-kyo bridge.

Let us follow the river. As you progress farther down the winding path, there are fewer and fewer people around. What a relief! Sit by the bank and enjoy the lush greenery reflected in the river. Perhaps you will catch sight of a crane taking flight.

Continue down the path and eventually you will come across some small stone stairs leading up to Kameyama Mountain. There are some great views from up here. Take a deep breath and savor the scent of fresh, new leaves.

Walk further up the mountain…
Keep going…

…Stop! You feel the presence of someone, something…


You realize that they are welcoming you with spotlights, dancing on the stony path at your feet.

By the time the light show has ended, you have reached the summit of the mountain and another performance awaits you: this time it is the artistic vocals of the hototogisu, the Japanese cuckoo. Time to take a seat on one of the benches. Peer up at the vast expanse of blue sky, down at the boats silently floating along the Hozugawa River from which you have come, and chill to the sweet background music.

Wait a minute! You have noticed something. Is that a little village you see, on the other side of the river?  Let’s check it out. Now this feels more like an adventure.

Let’s go back down the mountain. Can you remember the way you came?

Let’s hope so! Don’t forget to say farewell to the company you have encountered on your stroll.

Head back towards the Togetsu-kyo bridge and cross it. There will be another smaller bridge, named Togetsu-kyo ko-bashi, and next to it a small lane next to that bridge which runs parallel to the river. This dark, mysterious path that runs deep into the mountain entices you. Where does it lead?: Arashiyama Mountain, after which this touristic region takes its name.

You stumble across a strange, handwritten sign with an arrow pointing left. If you can read Japanese, you will know that it says that there is a special viewing point nearby.

According to the sign, the person or group who wrote it goes by the name “Daihikaku.” Who is that, I wonder?

You continue down the lane in the direction of where the sign is directing you and wonder about that strange sign you saw for a while, but very soon you will soon forget about it as you a greeted by beautiful little cascades streaming out from the mountainside.

You continue your leisurely walk down the lane deep into the mountain, taking in the scenery and feeling the light breeze on your face.

This is a small urban adventure in relatively unexplored areas of Arashiyama that you can experience with little effort and, not to mention, courage. All you need is a pair of comfortable shoes and a bit of curiosity to venture off the beaten track!

You might say, “But Yuka, there are no temples or shrines on this walk, and I am in Japan after all!” Well, do you remember that sign you passed earlier? That is an important clue: you have to find out where it leads to on your own!
If you are tired with your daily life, you will certainly appreciate Arashiyama. Enjoy!

How to get there

There are several ways to get to Arashiyama from Kyoto Station.

①    By Train

Take JR Sagano line (also known as JR Sanin line) to Saga-Arashiyama Station (15 minutes). Togetsu-kyo Bridge is a 10 minute walk away.

②    By bus

Take the bus No. 28 to Tenryu-ji Temple. This temple is located in the center of Arashiyama district, and Togetsu-kyo Bridge is close by. However, the journey takes much longer than by train and you may also get stuck in traffic.

③    By bicycle

You can also access Arashiyama by bicycle. There are many shops where you can rent bicycles in Kyoto.


by Wilson Onishi

Arashiyama (Kioto)

El lugar de “Arashiyama” se encuentra situado al oeste de Kioto. Aquí podrá encontrarse con un Japón muy tradicional, ya que tiene hermosas montañas y un río que le da un tono muy japonés, especialmente en las estaciones de primavera y otoño. Además de esto, tendrá la oportunidad de visitar templos y tiendas de artesanía japonesa del lugar.

Para tomarse un descanso, están los restaurantes y heladerías que encontrará a su paso por este lugar.

Asombra que, pese a su extensión, muchas zonas atractivas pueden recorrerse a pie, lo que le hará gozar de placenteros paisajes: entre escenarios tranquilos surgen mercados coloristas junto a las tiendas de dulces tradicionales del lugar. Prepárese a ver una ciudad que ha reunido el bullicio japonés y la nostalgia asiática.

Los carritos chinos

En la ciudad de Kioto, en algunas partes turísticas hay carritos chinos, por si le apetece dar un un paseo. En Arashiyama , si quiere dar un paseo por el lugar también están a su dispoción. El precio varía dependiendo del recorrido que haga. 2000¥~5000¥

El puente Togetsukyo

Este puente atraviesa el Río Kasturagawa que conecta el barrio Nishikyoku con el de Ukyoku. Las barandillas de este puente están hechas de madera, lo cual le da un estilo muy japonés. También es el símbolo del lugar, que sin duda será una fuente inagotable de tomas fotográficas que usted podrá realizar.


En Arashiyama puede encontrarse con restaurantes de comidas típicas de Japón. Si busca comida tradicional o las auténticas especialidades de Arashiyama, que no tienen nada que ver con lo que la gente come en otras regiones, le recomendamos gustar la variedad que hay en el lugar.

Paseo en bote

Si quiere dar un paseo en bote sólo tiene que ir a la ventanilla de embarque que está cerca del puente Togetsukyo y preguntar, lo cual es fácil. El recorrido del viaje es de una hora. El precio, razonable para dos personas, es de 3500¥.

Tiendas de Artesanías

Podrá encontrase con una infinidad de tiendas: algunas, de abanicos tradicionales japoneses; otras, de muñecos tradicionales japoneses.

Heladerías y pastelerías

En este lugar podrá contemplar mucho más agradablemente el paisaje con un delicioso helado típico del lugar. Hay variedad de sabores que usted podrá elegir.


Tren, autobús. Si utiliza el tren, tiene que tener en cuenta que existen 4 líneas con dirección a Arashiyama, que están situadas en diferentes lugares.

Arashiyama and Sagano

by Natsuki Kamikura and Satoko Kawaguchi

Arashiyama and Sagano are famous for the sights of cherry blossoms in spring and red leaves in fall. There are numerous temples and shrines, so it takes a lot of time to visit them all in a large area. However, you will spend a good time there. What follows are just some of the sights of this beautiful district in western Kyoto.


Togetsukyo is the famed “Crossing Moon Bridge” over the Katsura River. It is the very symbol of Arashiyama, and shows off its beauty. The original bridge was built in 836AD, the current one in 1934. Its piers are made from durable concrete and the bridge itself is made of wood. It is designed to match with the atmosphere of Arashiyama.


Tenryu-ji temple, a World Heritage site, is very large and has a beautiful garden.It was established in 1339 by Ashikaga Takauji, founder of the Muromachi bakufu (military government), who re-opened trade with China to raise funds for the building expenses. Over the centuries there have been eight fires in this temple, so most of the buildings were reconstructed. You will see a gate called Chokushi-mon, roofed over with cypress bark. This gate is the oldest structure in Tenryu-ji, and is said to have been transferred from Fushimi Castle. The Hiun kannon (a Goddess of Mercy) stands in front of the main temple. This kannon has a cloud on its back, symbolizing God and travel; it is said to protect people who travel by air. The kannon has a cross in her left hand for protecting people without regard to nationality or religion.

The most beautiful scene is Sogenchi, a garden with a pond. This garden is designed to “borrow” two nearby mountains, Arashiyama and Kameyama, to create a scene that gives the impression they belong to the garden. Tenryu-ji temple was among the first to be designated as a special sight in Japan.


Nonomiya shrine

Nonomiya shrine is surrounded with a bamboo grove, and it is well known that the Kuroki No Torii (black torii gate) and a brushwood fence which are both described in The Tale of Genji can be found there. This small shrine is famous for the kami (god) of relationships and learning, so many women seeking a good match and many students aiming to pass exams visit here.

When you go through the torii, you will find a stone to the left called Kame No Ishi. It is said that your wish will come true within a year if you touch and stroke the stone while praying. When you go to the right, you will find the moss garden. At the bottom of the shrine, there is a building for seeking the grace of being blessed with a child and an easy birth. Akishino-nomiya, son of the current emperor, and his wife Kiko visited this shrine. After that she had a child.


Rakushi-sha, the “House of Falling Persimmons,” is the simple hut where Mukai Kyorai, one of pupils of haiku poet Matsuo Basho (1644-1694), lived in his later years. Matsuo Basho stayed in this house too in 1689 and wrote Saga Diary. The house was reconstructed in the Meiji Period by Inoue Juko, a haiku poet from Kyoto.

You will see a straw raincoat and a rain hat. These mean that the owner is at home. Check and see! There are a lot of tablets inscribed with haiku and persimmon trees in the garden. One story says that the hut’s owner wanted to sell his persimmons while they were ripe on the tree, but they were blown down by a strong wind before his customers arrived! Perhaps you will want to write a tanka or haiku poem when you ramble through this garden. A special box is set up in Rakushi-sha for you, so you can drop your poem into it. The most excellent of these works are published in a haiku journal called Rakushi-sha. Let’s write about the beautiful nature of Arashiyama and Sagano.


Jojakko-ji is famous for the sight of red leaves in Kyoto. In autumn you can walk a path which is covered with beautiful maples. You can look down from the top of the hill at Kyoto city if you climb the stairs. It is a little hard to climb, but the beautiful scene will reward you. You can even see as far away as Kyoto Tower.

Train and Rafting

If you want to experience nature keenly, you’d better take a special train. You can enjoy the grand natural scenery along the Hozu River and surrounding mountains. The train has only five cars, and car No. 5, “The Rich” is special. It’s a car without any glass windows or doors, so you’ll see the river, trees, and flowers directly. This train travels from Saga station to Kameoka station in about 25 minutes. Heading for Kameoka Station, you should sit on the right side for the best view.

When you reach beautiful sights, the train will stop for you and a conductor will explain about the spot. Staff take your pictures on the train and you can buy them if you want. They will be a memory of your train trip. When you arrive at Kameoka Station, you should try boating. Descend from Kameoka to Arashiyama on the Hozu River. You can enjoy a thrilling experience and talk with the boatman. This is a popular plan, so you should reserve a boat early. You’ve taken an interest in the Arashiyama-Sagano area, haven’t you? Come check it out with your own eyes! You will find many new things and interesting places.