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Western Kyoto Spiritual Tour: Forest Spirits of Bamboo and Zen

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2 travelers
    What to Expect
    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. 
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    Important Information
    Departure Point
    JR Saga-Arashiyama Sta. Public Bathroom, Japan, 〒616-8373 京都市右京区Ukyo Ward, Sagatenryūji Kurumamichichō, JR嵯峨嵐山駅南側
    Departure Time
    2:00 PM
    3h 30m
    Return Details
    Arashiyama Station, Arashiyama Higashiichikawacho, Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-0002, Japan
    • Local English-speaking guide
    • Zen meditation instruction
    • Matcha green tea ceremony and cup of tea
    • Coffee and/or Tea
    • Additional food and drink
    • Souvenirs and any additional transportation
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    Additional Info
    • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
    • Not wheelchair accessible
    • Please wear modest, casual dress and comfortable walking shoes.
    • In case of closure of the temple the tour will not run. The booking can then either be changed to an alternative date or otherwise we will partially refund the customer.
    • In severe weather conditions some of the walks may be slippery in case of rain.
    • We can accommodate vegetarian and other dietary restrictions. Please notify us in advance if you have any dietary requests.
    • For your Urban Adventure you will be in a small group of a maximum of 12 people.
    • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 12 travelers
    Cancellation Policy
    For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience.
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    Popular mentions
    Starting off with a trip through the famous bamboo grove we were introduced to the significance of the various shrines and temples we came upon as we walked. The tour continued up to a small shrine where we got to participate in a meditation session and a traditional tea
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    Response from KyotoUA, マネージャー at Western Kyoto Spiritual Tour: Forest Spirits of Bamboo and Zen
    Responded 3 weeks ago
    Thank you 908brtnjars for your review. Yes, this tour is very unique and we are happy that you had enjoyed the experiences. best regards. Nobumasa Miyake
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    In this small group tour, we went through the Bamboo Forest, Nonomiya-shrine, and met with a Zen Buddhist monk in Daihikaku-Senkoji. the walk along the river and the climb to Daihikaku-Senkoji was so beautiful, and the time we spent there helped me learn so much about Japanese
    Read more
    Response from Nobumasa M, マネージャー at Western Kyoto Spiritual Tour: Forest Spirits of Bamboo and Zen
    Responded 24 Oct 2019
    Thank you DganitPB for your review, which makes our staff and me very happy. We are expecting your joining another tour with your friends. Best regards. Best regards. Nobumasa Miyake
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    One of our favorite experiences in Japan. Would highly recommend to others and even do it again ourselves if we ever get the chance
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    Response from KyotoUA, Manager at Western Kyoto Spiritual Tour: Forest Spirits of Bamboo and Zen
    Responded 17 Oct 2019
    Thank you M8807FZbrains for your great review. Kyoto team are super happy to hear that you enjoyed our tour. Please have a good time in Japan. Best regards, Kohei Tamaki
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    Masayo took us on the zen tour. She is a wonderfull person and really helpfull. The walk was lovely and quite easy. Meeting the monk was quite an experience a lovely, interesting man. The tea ceremony was interesting. Beautiful view from the temple. Overall a lovely
    Read more
    Response from KyotoUA, Manager at Western Kyoto Spiritual Tour: Forest Spirits of Bamboo and Zen
    Responded 8 Oct 2019
    Thank you V6963SXnicloer for your feedback. Masayo and Kyoto team are very delighted to hear that you enjoyed our tour. Please have a good time in Kyoto. Best regards, Kohei Tamaki
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    this was a once in a lifetime tour. it was the absolute highlight of my trip. Masayo was a terrific guide and the visit with the monk was truly specacular. I am so glad I participated ! go on this tour, Michele
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    Response from KyotoUA, Manager at Western Kyoto Spiritual Tour: Forest Spirits of Bamboo and Zen
    Responded 7 Oct 2019
    Thank you michelexxxxx again for your wonderful review. Masayo and Kyoto team are indeed glad to hear that you enjoyed the tour! Please enjoy your next destination. Best regards, Kohei Tamaki
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    Key Details
    • Kyoto Urban Adventures
    • Duration: 3h 30m
    • Mobile Ticket Accepted
    • Instant confirmation
    • Languages Offered: English
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