きれいな嵐山に行ってきた! Day-trip in beautiful Arashiyama!

Hey everyone, Mark from Kyoto here. On Sunday 21st July, the International Affairs Division organised a field trip to Arashiyama for 30 exchange students from California, USA. With only a week left of their month-long exchange trip to Japan, they were all very excited to see another part of Kyoto. This was the largest group I have been asked to help out with, and with fellow coworkers and other associates, as well as some Japanese buddy students from Ryukoku University, we spent the day around the Arashiyama area!


It was already a hot day when everyone arrived around 08:45 at the Prefectural Office, so we made the process as quick as possible and jumped into the cooled coach that would take us to Arashiyama. Our first stop was Tenryu-ji, the Zen Buddhist temple with its World Cultural Heritage site garden. Here we were very lucky to have a short tour of the grounds and an explanation of the daily lives of priests and monks at the temple, from an American man who trained to become a monk. He very kindly guided us through the process for meditation, and after a short 20 minute session, we all came back to reality feeling very refreshed, I think.


Zazen meditation practice! 座禅体験!

Zazen meditation practice!

After a stroll through the temple gardens, we headed back towards Saga-Arashiyama station via the Take-no-michi, or the Bamboo Road. This famous path gave a cool and shady break from the midday sun.


Once we had taken time to get ourselves fed and watered, we gathered at the Torokko Saga Train station, where we boarded the classically designed, semi-open-air train to take in the view over the Hozu River. This 20 minute journey goes up to Kameoka, and allows spectacular views of the gorge, unavailable on the usual JR ride.


Taking in the scenery on the way to Kameoka. 亀岡方面の景色を眺め中

Taking in the scenery on the way to Kameoka.

The journey up to Kameoka, however, was really in order to take the beautiful journey back. Thankfully, the weather was scorching hot and sunny all day, so a perfect day to take the river raft boats down the Hozu River from Kameoka to Arashiyama. With little rain in the past week, the water level was low, and the running a little slower than normal, but the breeze on the river made the whole experience very pleasant, as we waved to other rafters going down the river. The men steering the boat had a great time talking with the exchange students, and shared many of their amusing anecdotes with us all, making the 2 hours or so pass very nicely.


Hozu-river ride 保津川下り

Hozu-river ride

Once back in Arashiyama, a quick stop for ice-cream and souvenirs, and we went back to the Prefectural Office where we said our goodbyes. There are already some potential JET applicants in the group so after I had passed on my advice and details for further questions we all went our separate ways.
I had a lot of fun on one of my favourite day trips here in Kyoto, and especially taking care of some very enthusiastic and open-minded students. Who knows, perhaps we might see them again on the JET Programme in the future? The day finished without incident, and I hope the students enjoy their last week in Japan!


The group at Tenryu-ji 天竜寺前グループ写真

The group at Tenryu-ji


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