Kyoto Travel Tip: How to Photograph Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest is one of the most popular destinations in Kyoto, Japan (I'd place it second to Fushima Inari Taisha), and if you've tried to search for destinations in Kyoto, you've probably seen pictures of a path beautifully lined with bamboo grass on the sides.

Welcome to Kyoto!







      After exploring Tokyo, next in our list was Kyoto and our first journey in this beautiful city started at the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest early on our third day in Japan.

      (In case you missed: Japan Day 3: Asakusa Tokyo Itinerary)








      Walking to get to the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

      A lot of tourist destinations in Japan are accessible by trains or buses and are quite close to the stations. However, to reach the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, visitors will have to walk some distance from the Saga Arashiyama Station.






      (Side story: We missed Saga Station because I thought we should alight at the Torrokko Station but the train didn't stop there. We reached Hozukyo Station and lost some time. However, I feasted my eyes on the mountains and rivers that we passed by along the way.)






      From the Saga Station, we walked through the neighborhood. There are signs and guides along the way and you won't be lost.


      Get there early

      First tip when planning a trip to the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest is to get there as early as you can because tourists will flock the 'bamboo path' fast. Schedule it first thing in your itinerary as much as possible.

      Read: Japan Travel Itinerary for 7 Days: Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka

      There were still very few people in the 'forest' when we got there. The only ones who were there ⁠⁠—including a solo photographer and a team doing a photoshoot⁠— obviously knew what was about to  happen in a matter of minutes. Before you know it, people are flocking at the path to take their selfies and the surroundings.

      The bamboo forest is just so mystical and you will want to be there first (if I haven't stressed that enough) and feel the atmosphere when there's still few people around.



      Photography tips to capture a people-less shot





      Basically, the trick is to take a closer shot (close up) and try to hide the path and the people behind you (or the subject). This will limit you to tighter shots, though, obviously.

      There's also a part of the path which is curved and will give a little 'blind curve' effect/perspective (similar to a road blind curve, if that makes sense), hiding the path beyond the curve.

      To illustrate, here's a 'straight' shot of the path where other visitors are inevitably included in the shot:



      Classic shot from the center:




      But if you shoot from the 'curve', you can avoid some people. You also deviate from the flat and plain straight perspective:





      See the difference? There's now very little room for any photobomber as compared to a 'straight' shot.

      From this point, there's less view of the actual path and the final trick is to simply move the subject or shoot from an angle in such a way that any person standing behind will be hidden.

      Or, you can simply wait for other tourists to be out of the frame... phew, talking about complicating things!


      Play with other perspective

      Try shooting from a slightly different angle like shooting from a lower perspective. Shoot like you're looking up on a tree or past over something.





      Some more photos inside the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest









      Conclusion

      On the way back to the path, there were just too many tourists that taking a photo of the place or of a 'selfie with the path' was next to impossible, so, being there as early as you can is important if you care so much about a solo self-portrait.

      You will find hundreds of beautiful photos of the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest online, but this is one of those places that being there is entirely different than just seeing it on media.

      Don't get too focused in trying to take the IG-perfect shot and miss being present. Take a couple of memorable shots from the place and then make sure to really 'be there'. That's simply the best way to enjoy any place.

      5 comments:

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