On our second day in Kyoto, we’ll be visiting attractions in the Arashiyama district located on the western side of Kyoto. We will be riding the Sagano Romantic train first. Tickets has been pre-purchase at the JR (West) ticket office in Kansai airport a day earlier as it is known to run out fast. Most major JR (West) ticket office sells the Romantic train tickets and you can purchase it, up to 1 month in advanced. A one way ticket cost ¥620, rather expensive for a 15 minutes ride.
From the Kyoto train station, we took a 30 minutes JR San-in train line to Umahori station. You can board any of the trains from either platform 31, 32, or 33. Icoca card was used for fare payment on this sector. You tab your card at the ticket gate entering Kyoto train station and tap out at Umahori station.
After getting off at Umahori station, it is a 10 minutes walk to Kameoka Torokko Station, the stop for the Romantic train. Our plan is to board the Romantic train from Kameoka Torokko station and getting off half-way at Arashiyama Torokko station where you can access the Sagano Bamboo forest within a couples of minutes walk.
Starting from Kameoka Torokko station, we would suggest sitting on the left side facing the direction of travel. From this side, you’ll get more of the river and mountain view through the ride. Please note you will be sitting on small uncomfortable wooden chair with little shoulder room that isn’t exactly romantic. Do expect the train to be crowded and noisy. Standing passengers can come close to your seat and obstruct your scenery or worst, give you an elbow. Nonetheless, the train is clean and well maintained with its bright colorful exterior paint.
The train will coast along the Hozugawa river and goes through the ‘scenic’ forest. You will be treated with river and forest views which will definitely be lovely during cherry blossom or autumn foliage. During other seasons, this may just be another typical train ride, nothing to write home about.
We have decided to start our Romantic train ride from Kameoke Torokko and get-off at Arashiyama Torokko, the 2nd last stop about half way through the ride. This way, we will be getting the best views of the river and forest as opposed to starting from Saga Torokko. The famed Arishiyama Bamboo forest is 170m from Arishiyama Torokko station and the densest part of the forest is at about this point. If you opt not to get-off here, your last stop shall be Saga Torokko station. You can get off at any of the stations in between but NOT onto the train again.