When we visited Kyoto we realized we could not see all the temples of the city. There are more than 1000! For this reason we had to make a research and choose some of them. We already wrote about the 7 best shrines in Kyoto. However, Kyoto is much more than temples and spirituality. It has a rich natural heritage. Although concrete and asphalt is everywhere, like in every Japanese city, there are many natural hideouts. In this post we write about our walk through the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest and our visit to the Arashiyama Monkey Park.
We finished our visit to Tenryū-ji, one of the most beautiful temples of Kyoto. Just next to the exit of this temple you find the entrance to the bamboo forest. We had already seen bamboo next to rivers or private gardens, but the bamboo forest was different. We were suprised with the height, thickness and density of the bamboo. It was really dark inside the forest and the walk through the only path that exists is unforgettable.
At the end of the forest you can visit the Okochi Sanso Garden, which we didn’t visit. However, it is a must that we need to see in a future visit to this city. From the exit of the forest we headed towards the base of the west mountains of Kyoto. There, already in Arashiyama district, we crossed the river and started walking through a steepy path which starts behind the Ichitani-Munakata-Jinja Shrine.
In the Arashiyama Monkey Park macaques live in a controlled free environment and you are allowed to feed them from inside a gage. It is really a funny thing and a perfect activity in Kyoto to do with children.
Japanese macaques can be really agressive. We could check this when we were walking through the Park and one young macaque jumped on me hitting with its hands to my chest. Then it ran away. It was a scary but funny moment. We didn’t do anything to it, maybe just walking too close to where it was. Laura and I watched to each other after the unexpected encounter and laughed at the end.
The Monkey Park was full of baby macaques. It was August and it looks like they were born few weeks before. They were playing all around and drinking milk from their mothers. It was a lovely sightseeing and we could not stop doing photos to the families.
It was a hot afternoon in Kyoto. We were sweating after the steepy walk to the Park, but there, under the shadow of the trees and taking photos to the macaques we forgot about the heat and relaxed watching the nature so close to the civilization. One of the great contrasts of Japan.