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Train Trip Through Magnificent Autumn Foliage
Colored leaves & changing sceneries from railway windows in Kyoto

Stunning Natural Beauty Along the Gorge on the Sagano Romantic Train
The natural beauty of Arashimaya has always offered the perfect retreat for Japanese people since the Heian period. Many Heianperiod aristocrats chose Arashiyama as the setting of their villas and second houses.

The Togetsu-kyo Bridge is Arashiyama's wellknown central landmark. Many small shops, restaurants and other attractions are found nearby, including Tenryu-ji Temple (World Heritage), Arashiyama's famous bamboo groves and the pleasure boats that are available for rent on the river.

Wonderfully colored leaves passing right in front of your eyes

One of the best ways to appreciate the natural beauty of Arashiyama is aboard the Sagano Romantic Train. The classically designed carriages run slowly along the 7.3-km route, taking about 25 minutes to pass through the stunning scenery with the Hozu-kyo Gorge below.

The railway was part of the JR Sanin Main Line but train couldn't run speedy enough due to winding route along the mountain. Later, a new tunnel was constructed which directly connected Saga and Kameoka Stations, then, the original railways were abandoned. However, since the natural scenery of the river and rocks along the railway was just so stunning, it was revived as a tourist attraction in 1991.

The first train was inaugurated in April, 1991. In those days, the mountain way along the railway wasn't as beautiful as today, but people made great efforts to plant cherry and maple saplings. Today, the trees have grown and enchant tourists in every season.

Enjoy riding on both Sagano Romantic Train and Hozugawa-kudari River Boat

The train slows down as it passes by particularly beautiful spots and the wonderfully colored leaves pass right in front of people's eyes. A special nighttime light-up will be held until December 10 (16:30-19:30) offering passengers a unique scenic opportunity. If possible, choosing the open carriage without glass windows is the best (strongly recommended to purchase tickets in advance; see below). The Sagano Romantic Train departs from either Arashiyama or at the other end, Kameoka Station. To make your autumn outing in this area most memorable and special, returning via the Hozugawa-kudari River Boat ride should not be missed. The traditional wooden boats are controlled by boatmen skillfully guiding the boat with oars and bamboo poles.

The boat takes about two hours to make its leisurely way down the river and is a relaxing way to see the natural scenery of the largely undeveloped ravine from a different angle to that enjoyed from the train (Fare: Adults: 4,100 yen / Children between 4-12: 2,700 yen; Boat departs every hour between 9:00 and 15:30; last boat departs at 15:30; until 14:30 in Dec.).

Sagano Romantic Train: Fare (one-way): adult: 620 yen, children: 310 yen; Flat fare from Torokko Arashiyama Stn. to any station: www.sagano-kanko.co.jp/en

*Note: The Sagano Romantic Train is very popular during the autumn foliage period and the number of tickets available on each day is limited (reserved seats only); it is strongly recommended to purchase tickets in advance at the ticket reservation office at major JR train stations.

Going Through the Maple Tunnel on the Eizan Railway
There are many attractive temples and shrines located amongst the lush green along the Eizan Railway such as Kurama Temple which is famous as a spiritual power spot and the Shinto Kifune Shrine enshrining the deity of water and good matchmaking.

Transportation became significantly easier when the final station of the railway at Kurama was completed about ninety years ago, allowing many more people to travel to the area. It now takes just 30 minutes from Demachiyanagi Station to the terminus.

Going through the maple tunnel in the evening

Watching the passing scenery, gradually changing from urban to rural, will invite you to enter the nostalgic village ambience of old Kyoto. Taking the Eizan Railway is always a pleasure regardless of the season, however, autumn might be the most recommended and beautiful season to try; Fare (one-way): Adults: 420 yen, Children: 210 yen from Demachiyanagi Stn. to Kurama Stn..

One of the Eizan Railway's carriages is known as ''Kirara,'' which has a wide glass window on both sides that allows passengers to feel as if they are completely immersed in the magnificent world of colored maple leaves. The Ichijoji area is one of the most highly recommended areas along the train route. About 15 minute-walk to the east from Ichijoji Station there are many smallsized, but must-visit temples such as Manshuin Temple, Shisen-do Temple, and Enko-ji Temple.

''Kirara'' offers magnificent world of colored maple leaves

From Yase Hieizan-guchi Station, one can reach the highly popular Ruriko-in Temple within a 5-min. walk (autumn special opening: 2,000 yen). Renge-ji Temple is another attraction in the area located opposite side from Yase Hieizan-guchi. Here, the beautiful moss garden with a small pond and trees creates such a perfect autumn scene; it is especially exquisite after leaves fall on the green moss and ground.

In the Kibune area, Kibune Momiji Lantern Festival will be held (Nov. 3-26; get off at Kibune-guchi Station). Try to get the train on Eizan Railway and experience the splendid colored maple trees between Ichihara Station and Ninose Station. It's a very short distance, only 250 meters or so, but the train will run very slowly to allow passengers to enjoy the moment. Passing through the tunnel, you will reach Ninose Station. Heading to Kifune Shrine, the warm light of lanterns is a welcome to people along the old street by the traditional ryokan inns and eateries.

*Autumn colors usually start around early November and continue until the beginning of December (depending on that year’s weather conditions).

Recommended Autumn Foliage Sites in Arashiyama

Tenryu-ji Temple
Ranked among Kyoto's five great Zen temples, Tenryu-ji Temple (World Heritage), founded in 1339 at the beginning of the Muromachi Period (1338-1573), is the largest and most impressive temple in Arashiyama. Magnificent autumn views of the garden with Sogen-chi Pond is often quoted as one of the best ''borrowed scenery'' or shakkei garden. Shakkei is an age old Japanese landscaping technique in which a distant view is incorporated as an integral part of a garden, a complete scene being composed as if it were a painting.

Jojakko-ji Temple
This mountainside temple was founded in 1596. With its small, attractive buildings and gates, the temple has a quiet and discreet atmosphere. Maple trees and moss line the paths and stairs that lead across the temple grounds. From Nio-mon gate, a steep stairway leads to the main hall of the temple where a Buddhist image is enshrined. The Taho-to pagoda (Important Cultural Property) was constructed in the 17th century. Standing on top of a stone stair and reaching the height of 12 meters, the pagoda offers a spectacular view of the city of Kyoto.

Nison-in Temple
Similar to Jojakko-ji Temple, Nison-in Temple is a hillside temple with slightly larger and more imposing buildings. The name Nison-in, meaning ''two revered images,'' derives from the temple's two principal standing images, Shaka Nyorai on the right and Amida on the left. Founded in the mid-9th century, Nison-in is a temple of the Tendai sect. There are views over the city from the upper grounds.

Gio-ji Temple
Gio-ji Temple is even more nestled into the forest than Jojakko-ji Temple. A smaller, much more intimate experience where fallen autumn leaves contrast brilliantly with the incredibly verdant moss. A visit here is an invitation to taste a simple beauty that has a melancholic tinge to it. The modest thatched hut surrounded by a bamboo grove completely embodies the spirit of autumn.