By Cathy Cawood
Talking about Kyoto can be endless. Not only is it a city with a rich cultural heritage, Kyoto is also said to be one of the best places to enjoy its natural beauty in the land of Cherry Blossoms. A place in Kyoto that I really like is Arashiyama. When talking about Arashiyama, or Mount Arashi in English, the first thing that comes to mind is the famed bamboo forest. This time I'll be sharing my experience on the Sagano Romantic Carriage ride.
Sagano Romantic Train, the name itself makes us wonder why did they add the word "Romantic"? Japanese people have some unique ways to describe things. Here the beauty of Kyoto is described in a romantic atmosphere. The combination of hills, valleys and rivers are summed up in the word, “romantic”. That is probably how the Japanese think of this train ride.
This classic train consists of five carriages, one of them an open carriage called "The Rich" which provides the best views. The train operates from March 1 to December 29, so you can decide what season to enjoy your ride. It starts in spring with breath taking views of the cherry blossoms, summer with a full canopy of green leaves, very refreshing for the eyes, then autumn for the changing of the leaves especially momiji (Japanese Maples) and finally winter with a snow-white landscape.
The Sagano Romantic Train operates from Saga Arishiyama Torokko Saga Station to the Kameoka Station. The hours of operation are from 9 am to 5 pm. The rate for adults is ¥620 and for children ¥310 . It is best to come early as the queues can be very long and they might run out of tickets. When I rode the train, I came an hour early but couldn't get a seated ticket, so I decided to buy a standing ticket for the same price.
You can also take in the views of Hozu river which is also used for the hozugawa kudari boat ride with many visitors taking the train up river and then the boat down to Arashiyama. The passengers on the boat looked quite happy waving at us on the Sagano Romantic Train.
Previously I've tried another scenic train ride in Chichibu, Saitama. Both are equally beautiful but the Sagano Romantic Train offers a somewhat different view as it weaves its way along the Hozu river.
So if you come to Arashiyama, do not just visit the Bamboo Forest! Take a walk from Okochi-Sanso and you'll find Saga-Arashiyama Station where your romantic journey will start. If you can, of course, come with your loved one to make it even more romantic.
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