Arashiyama’s emerald forest: the Sagano Bamboo Grove

 

It’s strong, resilient and very much part of Japan’s culture: the bamboo. It’s in a folklore and used in expressions, you’ll find it in the cuisine, plays an important part in festivals, it’s used for construction, handicrafts and art, and perhaps, in so many ways, a lifesaver, because the people are told to run for cover in a bamboo forest when earthquake strikes.

 

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
In awe of the beauty

 

If you can consider the number of regular visitors this Kyoto attraction receives daily as “earth shaking”, then everyone is in the right place –the Sagano Bamboo Grove in Arashiyama.

 

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
Got caught photobombing.

 

The 100-meter scenic path that cuts through the emerald tinted grass forest is breathtaking, its vegetation so lush that it was listed by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment as one of the 100 Soundscapes of Japan, a list created in 1996 by the agency as part of its efforts to combat noise pollution, and to protect and promote the environment.

Soundscape is defined as the component of the acoustic environment that can be perceived by humans, and Japan’s list of soundscapes was created to act as “symbols for the locals to promote the rediscovery of the sounds of everyday life.”

 

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
You have to be creative with your angles to get that “alone in the forest” snapshot

 

There are two ways to enter the chikurin-no kumichi (path of bamboo). First, through the Kameyama Koen (park). It’s a downhill walk starting from the Okichi Sanso villa (the former home and garden of the Japanese jidaigeki or period film actor Denjirō Ōkōchi), pass by the Nonomiya Jinja shrine and the Kogen Ji temple at the path’s end and exit the main road.

 

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
North entrance of the Tenryu-ji temple.

 

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

 

I did the opposite, the second route, and entered through the main road (buy the Japanese buchi-like treat at the corner store, it’s delicious). Via this way, it’s an uphill walk and you’ll catch the Kogen Ji temple first.

 

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
The other entry to the chikurin-no kumichi (path of bamboo). Some say it’s the wrong way and the path thru the Kameyama Koen (park) is the way to cross the bamboo grove.

 

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
Grab this on your way in

 

They say the first route is how it’s done right, but whichever way you decide to take, the seen is the same—the sight of green vegetation swaying against the gentle breeze and the sound of the rustling leaves is calming, if you don’t mind the pack of tourists and the occasional rickshaw coming from both directions.

 

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
What to expect: a cinematic backdrop of towering green grass, an occasional rickshaw and lots of tourists.

 

The popular Arashiyama attraction became more desirable (perhaps) when the bamboo grove was made a backdrop in a short sequence in the 2006 film “Memoirs of a Geisha”.

Did the number of visitors spike since then? Maybe so, the strip is one of the most photographed of Kyoto’s destinations.

And to get a solo shot in the crowded emerald forest maybe next to impossible. But “maybe” leaves an open window for the realization of a dream. Be patient, be alert, make blocking work to your advantage, and when that few seconds of alone-in-the-bamboo-forest come, grab it and make that shot happen.

 

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
Getting a good alone-in-the-bamboo-forest shot can be quite difficult but not impossible. You just have to be alert and creative.

 

If you get your solo snapshot, consider that an immortalization of your own Memoirs of a Geisha-ish moment.

Just like this….

 

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove Arashiyama Bamboo Grove Arashiyama Bamboo Grove Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

 

 

Email me at jinggoysalvador@yahoo.com. For more lifestyle & travel stories, visit www.ofapplesandlemons.com & www.jeepneyjinggoy.com

Also published in the SunStar Davao newspaper.

 

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