Kyoto’s Hidden Bamboo Forest

A trip to Kyoto, for most, isn’t complete without setting your sights on the iconic Sagano (Arashiyama) bamboo grove. Long gone are the days when you could visit without sharing the spot with a host of other tourists, but it’s tranquility and beauty pales in comparison to the verdant green and undisturbed charm of Muko city’s 2km take-no-michi – ‘path of bamboo’.

Muko’s bamboo forest, just on the western outskirts of Kyoto city, is truly a hidden treasure. Lofty green stalks tower above a winding path dappled with sunlight, leaves rustling far overhead as the breeze sweeps through the canopy. The path, almost devoid of tourists, is pretty much as far from the beaten tourist track that you can get when visiting the ancient capital, still offering an unspoiled sightseeing spot that can be rare in Kyoto. A stroll through the area is sure to invigorate the senses and heal the soul with its fresh air and cheery birdsong.

Located on Nishi-no-oka Hill in northwestern Muko City (just 15-20minutes by bus or train from central Kyoto), in area famous for top quality bamboo shoots, there are eight types of bamboo that grow in abundance in Muko, including original bamboo hedge creations such as “Takehogaki,” a hedge made of bamboo branches tied in bundles, and “Kaguyagaki,” a hedge patterned after the neck of a 12-layered ceremonial kimono worn by Princess Kaguya, the inspiration of the folk story “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter.”

The location isn’t as easily accessible as Arashiyama and so that’s why the place is a relative safe-haven from the crowds, but it’s definitely worth the extra effort for the tranquility that awaits.

Why not make a day of being in the area and visit Nagaokakyo, an ancient part of the city nestled under the western mountains. Nagaokakyo Tenmangu is a stand out temple, again almost completely devoid of tourists, so offers a serene setting that’s totally out of the way. Stop off at the super cute MM Coffee or Omiya Cafe for a break time treat in gorgeous surroundings.

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