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Itinerary

Our cultural and spiritual tour of the city will begin with a walk through the cosy and tranquil residential streets of Saga Arashiyama. This quaint suburban village was originally outside of Heiankyo — the name given to ancient Kyoto — and functioned as a restful resort for the city's noble families. 

We’ll cross the main street, which is brimming with colourful craft shops and mouth-watering street food stalls and make our way to the famous Bamboo Grove of Arashiyama. Often mistakenly referred to as a forest, it is in fact a ‘grove,’ as bamboo is not a tree, it’s actually a type of grass.

As we stroll, the bamboo gently sways in the breeze, with dramatic streaks of sunlight shimmering through the tall emerald stalks, giving you a sense of slipping back in time or entering into another world. 

Halfway through the bamboo grove, we’ll reach the compact but highly detailed Nonomiya Shrine. This ancient 9th-century structure was originally a sacred site for the purification and preparation of the priestesses of the Ise Grand Shrine. Today, it is a peaceful place where believers quietly ask their deities for a happier domestic life. 

At the top of the grove we’ll wander through pretty Kameyama Park before reaching the mighty Hozu river valley. We’ll walk along the river, enjoying its lush surroundings, passing quirky shops, restaurants and historical sites as we go. 

We’ll stop on Togetsukyo Bridge, which literally means ‘Moon Crossing Bridge,’ where we can take in pretty vistas and admire the swooping cormorant birds. During the summer months, trained cormorants are used in a method of fishing called ukai, where the birds catch the fish for the fishermen.

Next up, we’ll stroll along the river until the end of the footpath. We then continue our way up the winding, ancient stone steps of Daihikaku Senkoji Temple. It’s located on the side of a scenic mountain with panoramas of the Hozu River valley, Arashiyama area, and Kyoto City on the horizon. On clear days you can even see to the top of the five-tiered Pagoda of Ninnaji Temple, far into the distance. 

Here you will have a unique opportunity to encounter Zen by engaging in authentic Zen meditation under the guidance of a resident monk. We’ll also partake in a traditional matcha green tea ceremony, one of the hallmarks of Zen Buddhist culture. 

After your Zen experience, we’ll leave the temple grounds and head back along the Hozu riverside to the lively main road of Arashiyama where our tour ends, outside the Randen Keifuku Arashiyama station, which is the terminus for the old tram or streetcar. 

The station area provides an assortment of eating and shopping options for you to indulge in. There is also a glowing display of beautiful Kimono fabric patterns in transparent tubes, known as the Kimono forest. We also recommend the foot spa, where natural spring water can soothe your weary feet. 

Locations visited
Kyoto Urban Adventures
Overview
Have a spiritual experience missed by most visitors to Japan on this tour from Kyoto. Journey outside of the city into the picturesque surroundings of the Hozu river, surrounded by mountains and bamboo groves. Visit ancient Buddhist temples and enrich your experience of Japan's spiritual side with a guided Zen meditation session with a resident monk. Afterward enjoy a traditional matcha green tea ceremony.
Highlights
  • See a side of Japan few visitors experience
  • Be guided in the ways of Zen meditation by a resident Buddhist monk
  • Partake in one of Japan's most important cultural traditions: A green tea ceremony
  • Soak up the natural beauty of your surroundings and explore ancient temples
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Reviewed 2 weeks ago
Wonderful tour - Educational and Beautiful at the same time

We took the Western Kyoto -Zen tour had awesome time. Our guide, Miyake was wonderful ~ well spoken and very knowledgeable on the area. The pace of the tour was pleasant although getting up to the Monk’s temple was a bit of a hike so...More

Thank lizerivers
Reviewed 14 June 2018
Kyoto walking tour--worthwhile!

We had a very nice tour and this was due largely to our great guide, Nobumasa Miyake. He was knowledgeable, generous, and very easy to be with and engage on a range of questions related to the tour destinations and activities and more general Japan...More

Thank Dominic T
Reviewed 8 June 2018
Great Tour- a Real Highlight of our visit to Kyoto

This was our fist visit to Kyoto. Mr Miyake was a delight with our group. Spoke great English and was very knowledgeable and informative. This is a walking tour and a good pace. There were 5 of us in our party and we all commented...More

Thank paulshar0n
KyotoUA, Manager at Kyoto Urban Adventures, responded to this reviewResponded 12 June 2018

Hello, Thank you very much for your time reviewing us and Miyake and I'm glad that you enjoyed your time with him enough for recommendation. Come back to Japan soon to enjoy it even more! Kind regards from everyone @ Venture

Reviewed 28 April 2018
Educational tour with beautiful sceneries and an excellent guide

We met our tour guide, Yuta, and his assistant for that day, Miyake, at the meeting point a few minutes early. Both spoke very good English and were friendly, informative, helpful and caring - always ensuring they made time to speak with each member of...More

Thank MarilynL123
KyotoUA, Manager at Kyoto Urban Adventures, responded to this reviewResponded 12 June 2018

Hello, Thank you very much for your time reviewing us and Yuta and I'm glad that you enjoyed your time with him enough for recommendation. Come back to Japan soon to enjoy it even more! Kind regards from everyone @ Venture

Reviewed 17 April 2018
Forest Spirits tour - great for family with teenagers

We really enjoyed doing the Forest Spirits tour with our teenage boys. It started off a bit slow and ambling for them, with heavy crowds in the town and bamboo forest portion, but our tour guide (Yuta) was charming and informative, in a non-kitschy way...More

Thank Angie G
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