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Kyoto has many famous places and popular tourist attractions that are must-see destinations, but they can be hard to enjoy and fully appreciate with all the tourist crowds that descend upon them en masse. If you are looking for something a little less crowded and off-the-beaten track, then mark down this magical spot in Arashiyama that is Kyoto’s best kept secret. We are sure you won’t regret it.
Arashiyama is a popular sightseeing area on the western outskirts of Kyoto that is famous for its natural beauty and historic Zen Buddhist temples. The area contains many must-see Kyoto attractions such as the Togetsukyo (Moon Crossing Bridge), Tenryu-ji Temple and the magical Sagano Bamboo Forest. The main part of town, which is lined with traditional food shops and souvenir shops, forms the heart of Arashiyama.
The name “Arashiyama” literally means “Storm Mountain”, and it certainly lives up to its name with a storm of people visiting the historic area on a daily basis. It can be a tourist circus, but don’t despair, just off the main street is a secret spot that most people just stroll by without even knowing it is there.
The Kimono Forest is located in Randen Arashiyama Station, which is just off the main street of Arashiyama near the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tenryu-ji Temple. A wonderful surprise awaits visitors who are brave enough to wander off the beaten path and actually head into the station to explore what it has to offer. Within the station, brilliant cylinder-shaped pillars in a variety of colours and patterns stand in rows like a forest winding its way through a fantasy dreamland. The pillars are made with fabric dyed using the traditional Kyo-Yuzen technique, a style of dyeing and printing used to create the brilliantly coloured Yuzen Kimono in Kyoto. Around 600 pillars make up the so called “Kimono Forest”, creating a breathtaking and dramatic entrance to the station, which is sadly too often missed by travellers to Arashiyama.
The Kimono Forest is FREE and aims to be a small village that can be enjoyed either day or night, with pathways for walking, small parks, kiosks and even a foot spa to rest and soak your tired feet. It also houses the “Pond of the Dragon”, named after the Dragon of Tenryu-ji Temple, which serves as the guardian of the station to ensure that everyone has a safe journey.
To make the atmosphere of the Kimono Forest even more dramatic, it is illuminated at night from sunset to 9pm. LED lights installed in each of the pillars light up the beautiful Kimono Forest from dusk, almost rivaling the nearby Bamboo Forest for beauty, and creating an out-of-this-world experience not to forget.