【Kyoto】Let’s ride a Rickshaw – Comfortable and enjoyable stroll in Arashiyama


I had a trip to Kyoto in the first half of November.

The best time to view the autumn leaves in Kyoto is usually from early November to early December. This year was unusually warm even in November, so even though I knew in my head that it would be too early to see the leaves, I couldn’t help but anticipate the autumn foliage. I booked a rickshaw ride, dreaming of seeing Arashiyama in full autumnal leaves. As it turned out, the autumn leaves had not yet turned much and the scenery was not what I had dreamed of, but the rickshaw ride was great!

Arashiyama is popular among tourists regardless of the season, with its Togetsu-kyo Bridge, bamboo forests, and the World Heritage Site Tenryu-ji Temple, but it attracts even more tourists during the autumn foliage season. Souvenir shops and cafes open around 10:00 a.m., and by that time, they are already full of people. Therefore, during this season, rickshaws, which usually open at 9:00 a.m., can be specially reserved from 8:00 a.m.

So we booked a rickshaw first thing in the morning at 8:00. Unfortunately, the weather was rainy and cold. It had been exceptionally warm, around 20 degrees Celsius, but suddenly it was less than 10 degrees Celsius. I didn’t expect it to be this cold, and I wondered if the rickshaw would be okay. I was worried that the rickshaws would not be able to handle such a cold weather! However, that was an unfounded concern – the rickshaw has the canopy so it keeps out the rain, and I was covered with a blanket so I could stay warm. In addition, I had my child on my lap, so I was warmed by her body heat. haha

This is the Arashiyama. Even early in the morning on such a cold and rainy day, there were quite a few tourists. I often see pictures of rickshaws and bamboo forests, but I was afraid that people would be in the pictures, and then I realized that there is a secret bamboo forest where only rickshaws are allowed to enter. It is a luxury to be able to enjoy the bamboo forest in a private space away from the crowds. The rickshaw driver took a nice picture to commemorate our visit.

There are many places in Japan where bamboo grows, but few of them are bamboo forests. Bamboo grows at a very fast pace, so it is necessary to take care of it often to make a bamboo forest as beautiful as this one. While the driver was quizzing us on the speed of bamboo growth, there was an emergency! One of the bamboos had broken off and was blocking the way. It was a real emergency for the driver, who immediately called to report the situation, but for us, it was a rare opportunity to see such a precious scene.

The 30-minute rickshaw ride was completed with occasional guided tours and commemorative photos taken at key points. We told the driver that we wanted to have morning breakfast at “Bread, Espresso and Arashiyama Garden” after the tour, and he dropped us off in front of the restaurant at the end of the tour. I really appreciated it because it was raining.

Points of rickshaw ride that I have rediscovered this time around

・You can take a walk while listening to a spot guide. (But English speaking rickshaw driver is few…)
・Photography by a rickshaw driver who knows the area well!
・Comfortable and not wet in the rain
・Courses are flexible.
・There are routes that can only be accessed by rickshaw.

The rickshaw ride in quaint Arashiyama was great! Why don’t you take a ride on a jinrikisha?

By the way, there were 10 groups waiting for the morning meal at “Bread, Espresso and Arashiyama Garden” when I arrived at the restaurant around 8:30 a.m. (surprise!) I waited for less than an hour before I finally had my panini, which was crispy and delicious!

“Bread, Espresso and Arashiyama Garden” is a renovated old thatched-roof house built in the late Edo period. It was indeed a very nice space.