As for Kyoto sightseeing, visiting temples, shrines are one of the MUST, but another MUST I recommend is to experience a great nature of Kyoto!
Arashiyama area is well-known for its peaceful nature. Hozu River Boat Excursions is the best way to enjoy the great nature up close with a relaxing mood.
Enjoy the surrounding great mountain view and in these boat tour, you can save the energy without tired from walking!
In ancient days like more than 1000years ago, "Recreational boat rides" had been enjoyed only by the noble aristcrats.
Around 400years ago, the river has been used for water transportation, and then now, very popular for tourism. One of the three famous boat tours in Japan.
Especially in Spring and Autumn, those wonderful Sakura or Maple trees will give you a breathtaking scenery.
It's worth experiencing if you have one extra day in the nice season!
The boat tour is about two hours along 16km of rapids. Enjoy peaceful air.
If you have JR pass, you can get to Kameoka sta. directly for the boat boarding. But if you like to enjoy the great view of Hozu Valley especially in Spring and Autumn, I recommend another way.
Get off the JR train at Saga Arashiyama and change into "Trokko train" in another line, called Romantic Train.
The train starts from "Torroko Saga sta". and get to "Torroko Kameoka sta".
Never mind the directions of your train seat, because the train goes on a winding mountainous rail road, so both sides give you a nice view in turn! :)
Hozu river cruising is not so wild experience mainly, but the boat passed through a couple of very narrow spaces, don't miss seeing boatmen's perfect handling!!
Three skilled tough boatman will work so hard in turn, propel the boat with a bamboo rod.
They also never forget to entertain the passengers even while paddling by their unique joking. (they don't talk in English, though, unfortunately...)
At the latter part of rafting, you find one boat approaching... That's the boat selling drinks, snacks and some food... The delicious smelling may awake your stomach up after a long boarding!
If you like to enjoy the exciting rafting, April must be nice with more volume of water.
* Until 50 years ago, after the tours finished, the boatmen has pulled back all the boats all the way up on the mountain by the ropes. What a hard work in old times!!
● JR Kyoto sta. → JR Saga Arashiyama sta. (around 20min.)
● Torroko Saga sta. → Torroko Kameoka sta. (around 20min.)
* you can reserve the torroko train at JR station (not JR tickets, though)
(Only One way: the fee from Saga to Kameoka stn. is 600yen)
* buy the "boat boading tickets" at Torroko Saga station before train leaving.
Fee: 3900yen (4yrs to 12yrs Children 2500yen)
At Hozukyo Valley station, Tanuki (Raccoon Dog) of Sigaraki ware will welcome you!!
● After few minutes walk from the station, Bus will take you to the boarding point. (around 20min.)
● Hozu River whitewater rafting. (around for two hours)
* please don't forget to apply your name in the office in advance.
● Arrive back at harbor in Arashiyama area.
Enjoy your afternoon, visiting Tenryuji temple, walking an exotic Bamboo forest & shopping nice souvenir in Arashiyama!