Welcome to Arashiyama, Kyoto during the peak of the vibrant autumn leaves… It’s a wild ride.
We caught the Hankyu line to Arashiyama station, and once aboard, we already knew it would be a day that would test our patience. We are not the kind of people who willingly go to places we know will be crowded with tourists.
So perhaps we were naive (stupid) thinking Arashiyama would not be so crowded as the rest of Kyoto usually is. Spoiler alert! It was, but the autumn colours more than made up for it…
After finally getting off the platform and through the station gates, we could breathe. The amount of people getting off the train was staggering, and we already started to dread having to come back to the station to go home.
Funnily enough we saw a TV report of Arashiyama a week after we were there, and it was even worse.
We followed the crowds from the station to Arashiyama Park Nakoshima Area, where vendors had put up tents selling all kinds of foods and sweets.
But we were not hungry, so we pressed on… The Togetsu-kyo bridge was seemingly the bottle neck of Arashiyama. Everyone wanting to go to see the sights would have to cross this bridge. Police and guards were directing people, one side of the bridge to go north, and the other for south bound traffic. Everything was fairly well organised, apart from the odd idiot who had to stop on the bridge suddenly to take a photo.
Fairly sure renting a boat for the sole purpose of crossing the river would have been quicker. But anyway…
After crossing the crowds dispersed, with most going straight on towards the famous bamboo forest and temples. These crowds would join the crowds coming from the JR line and the crowds from the Randen tram line.
We however went left to Kameyama Park, following the river path. And this is where the leaves really started to shine. With the sun lighting them up, they literally looked like they were shining.
In parts of the park, the ground was coloured red from the sunlight passing through the leaves. I’ve seen autumn colours before, but this was on another level.
We proceeded to walk up to the Arashiyama Park observation deck, looking into the Arashiyama valley. We weren’t lucky enough to see any of the Hozugawa riverboats coming down from Kameoka from the viewpoint, but we did catch them as they were arriving at the dock later.
Kameyama Park was a really nice spot to see the autumn leaves. But if we can give one piece of advice about seeing autumn leaves in Arashiyama: Go there on a weekday, weekends are just too busy. And even on a weekday, get there early! Just to be safe… I joke, kind of.
On our way back we ended up going through a sea of people… I mean the bamboo forest, before crossing the bridge again and getting some food.
We relaxed by the river for a while before walking back to the train station and catching the train back home. Thankfully the trip home was less busy.
But even though it was incredibly crowded, we really enjoyed it. The colours were so bright and vibrant, sometimes it didn’t even look real.
So all in all a successful outing. Next year though, I think we will go somewhere more local to enjoy the autumn colours.