Outside of Kyoto: Bamboo Forest and Monkey Mountain

When visiting Kyoto, many people recommend a trip to the Arashaiyama Bamboo Forest just outside of the city. We took the train to the little town and rented bikes for the day to take us from place to place faster. It was still early in the morning, and the crowds were thick at the tourist sites.

We walked our bikes through the bamboo forest, and while it was packed, it was still beautiful to see. The stalks of bamboo seem to grow endlessly toward the sky. It was a sunny day, but it was hard to tell under the vast bamboo.  I've seen photos of people, all alone along the path, and I wonder what time of day they must have gone to have the walk all to themselves.

A quick bike ride across town and a twenty minute hike up the mountain and we found ourselves on Monkey Mountain. It's known for it's monkey population that you can walk among, and these monkeys have an expansive view of other mountains. There are staff to monitor any monkey arguments, and for the most part all of the monkeys are doing their thing, undisturbed by us humanly visitors.

With this monkey mountain, the monkeys have free-range. If you want to feed them, you yourself have to go inside a large "cage." From there you can give the monkeys pieces of apples for them to snack on.

My favorite was the shrine behind a waterfall. At this temple, the main crowd enjoyed the expansive grounds with plenty of trees to keep guests in the shade. However, Steven had read a guide book that suggested travelers go beyond the traditional tour bus walk through the temple. Past the crowds, through a small opening in the concrete wall (we had to duck to avoid hitting our heads) there was a quick path in the woods. The path led farther up the mountain, and toward a waterfall. Up some stairs were shrines within tiny caves, and a shrine behind the waterfall itself. It was peaceful, only a few other travelers in the forest with us.


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