Western Kyoto: Forest Spirits of Bamboo and Zen

  • Best price guaranteed
  • No booking fees
  • duration 3.5 hours
  • tour type Group
  • age requirement 6+ yrs
  • guiding method Live Guide/Instructor
  • Starts Kyoto, Japan
  • Ends Kyoto, Japan
  • Marvel at the magnificent panorama of the Kyoto and Sagano valleys from an ancient mountaintop temple
  • Get instructed in the art of Zen meditation with a real Buddhist monk
  • Participate in a timehonoured green tea ceremony in a Zen temple
  • Wander through an ancient, towering bamboo grove
The Western Kyoto: Forest Spirits of Bamboo and Zen tour starts and ends in Kyoto. The Western Kyoto: Forest Spirits of Bamboo and Zen is a countryside and village visits tour that takes 3.5 hours.

Journey to the outskirts of ancient Kyoto to admire the stunning natural beauty of the Hozu river, surrounded by lush mountains and whispering bamboo groves. Visit dazzling ancient temples and embrace the spiritual and cultural side of Japan with a lesson in Zen meditation from a resident monk followed by a traditional matcha green tea ceremony. Spiritual enlightenment is (almost) guaranteed! 
5 - Excellent
Based on 802 reviews
Ms. Mandy's review for another Urban Adventures tour
5 - Excellent
  • Ms. Mandy
  • On Feb 01 2016
“Daniel was an amazing guide - he was full of enthusiasm and energy, and great at explaining the history and culture of the places we visited. The favela tour was definitely the highlight - what a unique opportunity to experience something uniquely Rio. I was skeptical that the favela part would be a bit voyeuristic but it was not at all. It was really educational, and a great opportunity to provide income to a few people living in the area. I would highly recommend the full day to in order to see the best parts of Rio!!!!”
Mr. Alberto's review for another Urban Adventures tour
4.5 - Excellent
  • Mr. Alberto
  • On Dec 23 2015
“A little bit more explanations on booking process could be welcome”
Mrs. Laura's review for another Urban Adventures tour
5 - Excellent
  • Mrs. Laura
  • On May 07 2016
“My husband's 20-someting-yr-old cousins were in town and we had a BLAST on this Urban Adventure. Much more than "just Friday Night Lucha Libre" the evening was a bit on the debaucherous side (in a good way)! First of all... LUIS is AWESOME. As soon as we met him I knew we were in good hands. We wandered down the crowded street from the Zocalo until Luis whisked us up to the top of Torre LatinoAmerica where we enjoyed killer views of Mexico City while sipping on cocktails. Then we settled the belly with a quick stop for an authentic torta (yummy pork sandwich) before continuing our stroll to the famous El Tenampa cantina in Plaza Garibaldi for tequila and mariachis. You'll read about how shady Plaza Garibaldi can be... but you're with LUIS! And Luis knows everyone and totally takes care of you!!! I'm telling you....This guy is a magician! We were totally charmed. And on to the main event via quick metro-ride! Once again Luis knows everyone along the way from peanut-vendors to the artist of hand-painted caps to the ushers who take you to your seat. You can read all about Lucha Libre so I wont go there - but I will tell you, if you want to be seated next to the guy that is screaming the most colorful and unique language in The Arena -- you want to be next to Luis! #localsknow Don't go any other way -- Go in style with Luis!”

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. Don’t forget to ask your guide for further recommendations on what else to see and do during your stay in Kyoto.  

  • Local English-speaking guide
  • Zen meditation instruction
  • Matcha green tea ceremony and cup of tea
  • Additional food and drink
  • souvenirs and any additional transportation
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GOOD TO KNOW Download trip notes

Cancellation for this Western Kyoto: Forest Spirits of Bamboo and Zen tour is free up to 48 hours before the chosen start date - full refund will be given. If cancellation is made less than 48 hours before the chosen start date, no refund applies.


For any tour departures within 02 December 2020, full payment is required. For tours that depart later than 02 December 2020, a deposit of 100% is required to confirm this tour, and the remaining balance will be charged 0 days before trip departure.

Travel Insurance

Western Kyoto: Forest Spirits of Bamboo and Zen tour requires that you have adequate and valid travel insurance covering medical and personal accidents, including repatriation costs and emergency evacuation. We recommend using World Nomads' travel insurance.


For this Western Kyoto: Forest Spirits of Bamboo and Zen tour getting the required visa(s) is the responsibility for each individual traveller, as visa requirements vary depending on your nationality. We recommend to check with your local embassies representing the countries that you are travelling to, as part of this itinerary.

Meeting start point :

JR Saga-Arashiyama Station, in front of the ticket gates.

Meeting end point :

Randen Keifuku Arashiyama Station.

COVID-19 Safety Measures

This trip incorporates the following COVID-19 measures:

  • This tour follows established guidelines that are in line with the World Travel and Tourism Council’s ‘Safe Travels’ framework against COVID-19.
  • This tour follows the local government(s) recommendations for gatherings and group sizes.
  • Wearing a mask, hand washing and sanitizing is highly encouraged on this tour. Frequently touched surfaces are regularly disinfected.
If you have any question about this tour or need help with planning a trip, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We're ready to help.
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