Growing Memories with Kids: A Japanese Bamboo Forest
Many children become fussy or have trouble winding down from a long day of playing or travel; I know mine did! Some people use soothing toys and videos depicting serene forests as a tool for calming down hyped-up kids. While pictures and imagery are compelling to young minds in need of serenity, they can’t hold a candle to the real thing. Japan is known for heavenly botanical vistas, I sometimes find some of the most breathtaking also come from something more humble than towering mountains or vast lakes.
One of our favorite family vacation memories is of Japan’s Kyoto Prefecture. It holds a great, green secret that towers dozens of feet in the air, waiting for both discovery and immersion by little eyes and minds. A family outing to the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is ideal for children of all ages – even those too young to walk through it themselves. Lush, towering bamboo offers pleasant shade and a tranquil, immersive experience ideal for dreamy little imaginations. Studded with mountain temples, nearby shopping, and the Iwatayama Monkey Park, an attraction we were particularly excited to see, where visitors can hand-feed monkeys fruit and peanuts in a specially-designated area, the bamboo grove makes an excellent starting point for the day. The hike across the bridge and the climb up the mountain required a little exertion, but our overall consensus is that the views were decidedly worth it.
Decide What Works for Your Family
We parents know what our children can and can’t handle on long outings, so it’s worth weighing if your children are the right age to visit Arashiyama. While the bamboo grove itself is relatively short, children without a stroller should wear supportive shoes and be able to walk moderate-to-long distances to ensure an easy afternoon. A stroll across the adjacent Tsutenkyo Bridge brings your family from the bamboo grove over to the monkey park, but you should be prepared for a hike of 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the crowds.
Decide How You’ll Travel
Like many scenic areas and tourist hot spots in Japan, the Arashiyama grove and surrounding points of interest are accessible by train and the Japan Rail Pass. Taking this route into the area can be a lengthy trip. When my brothers and I traveled on the bullet train in the 70’s we met three very impressive and extremely friendly sumo wrestlers who made the trip very entertaining. Or you can rent a car and drive to the Arashiyama grove. While driving in takes a bit more effort than hopping on the train, it also affords more flexibility in scheduling arrival and departure. Arriving early – between 7 and 7:30 am – is an absolute must if stunning pictures are a priority. Around 8:30 am, crowds begin to mass, and I found it a bit difficult to get shots of us and the bamboo without other people in the background.
A fun tourist area with scenic views, interesting activities for children and adults alike, and a beautiful riverside location awaits at the Arashiyama grove. Bamboo, while a humble and incredibly useful plant, becomes a true work of art in this towering grove of green. Ideal for a refreshing dose of nature and an undeniably Japanese experience, our visit here – one in which plenty of spectacular pictures were taken – was a trip that my children will remember fondly all their lives.
Nabila Khashoggi travels extensively with her own children, believing it broadens their horizons, fosters tolerance and understanding, and ensures a global perspective of the planet.
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