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KS Cover no. 78 2006 November

NOV 2006 :: 078

Arashiyama on wheels

Cycling is a novel way to get round any sightseeing area and allows you to see more for your money.

When leaving the crowded shopping areas of Kyoto behind, you are very likely to find Arashiyama to retain some rural charm. Temples don’t serve as an oasis in an urban space but are situated within onion and rice fields or forests. The Oi River is still allowed to be a river with a stony beach, and no high-rise spoils the view.

Biking is also a more private way of getting around. It leaves space to experience the quiet residential neighborhoods, gives a wider overview and allows a more unflustered approach to the sightseeing spots.

Crossing the Togetsukyo, or the Moon-Crossing Bridge, gives you a view towards Arashiyama (Storm Mountain). The river upstream usually hosts a number of boats, which make — together with its autumn foliage — a handsome photo.

Following the crowded shopping street a couple of hundred meters on the left hand side lays Tenryuji. If you have already visited Tenryuji leave it behind and bike along the main street towards Seiryoji. After crossing the train tracks turn left at the next street and find your way to Jojyakukouji.

Jojyakukouji is situated at the bottom of Ogurayama. A set of steps directs visitors towards the entrance. In this season they reflect the color of the maple trees. In the evening the stairway is saturated in a soft glowing light. The trees on the small plateau, where the temple seems to lean against the back of Ogurayama, frame a stunning view over Kyoto. The porch of the temple is a good place to enjoy the unusual moss garden. Here, the narrow and elongated pond stretches right along the temple, just divided by a small path.

Another steep but short path leads towards a beautiful pagoda, which was rebuilt to model its predecessor, which was crafted in the Edo Period and lasted till 1868.

Leaving Jojyakukouji it is only a short ride to Nisonin. Turn left at the exit, follow the street till it turns left, hang a right at the next street. At a T-junction turn left to enter Nisonin.

Nison-in also has a large number of maple trees flanking the path from the gate to the main complex but is also renowned for its ancient cemetery. On the steep slopes of the cemetery, towered over by large pine trees lay the graves of emperors and members of the aristocracy.

Giouji, the small thatched nunnery, is another temple on the foothills of Ogurayama. The comparably simple, almost poor appearance of Giouji and its surrounding moss garden enhances its contemplative character. The adjoining bamboo forest and the tall maple trees in the garden cast a shadow over the scene and immerse the temple ground in a subdued light.

The temple got its name from Giou who is mentioned in the Tale of Heike. Giou is described as a dancer and mistress of Kiyomari Taira, who was replaced by Hotoke Gozen — another young dancer. Giou decided to become a nun and came to this remote cottage. A while later Hotoke Gozen joined her after being deeply impressed by a poem which Giou wrote about the transient nature of happiness.

In contrast to Giouji, Daikakuji is more opulent. With its large pond and numerous buildings Daikaku-ji reveals its former usage as the palace of emperor Saga in the 9th century. The temple can be reached from Giouji in an approximately 10-minute bike ride.

Daikakuji is set up with elevated walkways, a museum and a number of wooden structures, has many nooks and crannies and reveals beautiful views onto the pond Osawanoike.

Text: Tanja Poppelreuter • Photos: Gary Quigg

:: Online Articles


International Bicycle Fund & Ibike
Sustainable transport


Arashiyama on wheels
Exploring Arashiyama by bicycle


A spin through ancient Japan
Cycling through history in Okayama Prefecture


One helluva of an FNQ ride
Cycling in Northern Queensland, Australia


Bike maintenance
Do-it-yourself guide to bicycle maintenance


Beat the wind
Getting into cycle racing

:: Kansai Listings


Up to date cinema listings guide so you always know what's on, where and when!

:: ART

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Best events & listings


Best gigs & listings


All the hot picks

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Asian Dining Rara, Shinsaibashi


Best festivals & listings


New releases & recommendations


OEFF + Best films & cinema listings


The bicycle law


Tatsu Sakamoto, world cyclist
55,000 kms, 51 month, 6 continents, and 1 man


Purchasing property
Advice from IFG-Asia


Autumn Hiking in Kyoto
Guide to Atago-san, Daimonji-yama, & Daigoji-yama


A pretzel in paradise
Yoga in Koh Samui, Thailand

Ways & means

Getting there

Take a Hankyu train to Arashiyama. Opposite the station, across the roundabout is a small shed where bikes can be rented.
• The rental price for one bike is ¥800 per day.
• Open: 9am-5pm
• For further information about bike rental call: 075-882-1112

Open & admission

Admission: ¥300
Open: 9am-5pm, daily

Admission: ¥500
Open: 9am-4:30pm, daily

Admission: ¥300
Open: 9am-5pm, daily

Admission: ¥500
Open: 9am-4:30pm, daily