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Western Kyoto Spiritual Tour: Forest Spirits of Bamboo and Zen

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Highlights
    What to Expect
    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. 
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    Reviews (20)
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    All reviews worth every penny great job buddhist temple tea ceremony small group walking tour japanese culture monk priest meditate chants grove zen meditation path lesson pace
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    1 - 5 of 19 reviews
    Reviewed 3 weeks ago

    I can't speak highly enough about this company. I took three amazing tours with them! The guides, Masao and Zen, were amazing. Totally accommodating, informative, interesting and helpful. In one tour, there was a group of four additional travelers and in the other two, I...More

    Date of experience: July 2019
    Thank rgwalls
    KyotoUA, Manager at Kyoto Urban Adventures, responded to this reviewResponded 1 week ago

    Thank you rgwalls for your comment. Masayo, Zen and Kyoto team are super happy to hear that you enjoyed the Urban adventures tours in Kyoto. Please enjoy your next destination! Best regards, Kohei

    Reviewed 26 June 2019

    This was a unique mix. Our guide was a young Chinese/Japanese man named "Zen" (yup) who was quite forthcoming and open in answering questions that I wouldn't have felt comfortable asking an older, more traditional Japanese person, so I got lots of insight into Japanese...More

    Date of experience: June 2019
    Thank rap_mom
    Reviewed 28 May 2019 via mobile

    We had Julian as our guide and he took us through forest spirits of bamboo and zen. Julian has rich knowledge of the Japanese history and the tour surroundings and we learnt soo much more than we would had we done the route ourselves. The...More

    2  Thank AmitM2412
    Reviewed 17 May 2019

    We did this tour few weeks back and have to say it was a great experience. Originally planned to do Arashiyama bamboo grove on our own but at last minute decided to join this tour. And it was totally worth it. Our guide Masayo was...More

    Date of experience: April 2019
    1  Thank Ashenkas
    Reviewed 16 May 2019 via mobile

    Masayo was our guide today and all I can say is she was fantastic! Very knowledgeable of the area, always happy and cheerful, happy to answer any questions, just great! Now the tour was also fantastic, we started by meeting Masayo at the train station,...More

    Thank tonyr274
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    Questions & Answers
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    brucemY6496ON
    25 October 2018|
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    Response from Sorcha M |
    Is there availability for Saturday? I’m unable to pay online
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    Key Details
    • Kyoto Urban Adventures
    • Duration: 3h 30m
    • Mobile Ticket Accepted
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    • Languages Offered: English
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