Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, you can enjoy the views of nature from the Trolley Train or from a cruise on the Hozugawa (river). Not just your average sightseeing, you will feel excited and thrilled, so we recommend these spots as part of your time in Kyoto. These spots can be enjoyed by the whole family! Why are the Trolley Train and Hozugawa River Cruise such popular tourist spots? We will give you 7 reasons!
About Trolley Train and Hozugawa River Cruise
Located near the popular Kyoto tourist spot, Arashiyama, the Trolley Train and Hozugawa River Cruise are activities which can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike. Running through the majestic yet delicate mountains of Kyoto, from the very popular Trolley Train you can see the views which only nature can provide with mountain streams and interesting rock formations. You are sure to enjoy the views and colors of nature no matter which season you visit. From the Trolley Train you can see the Hozugawa River Cruise. Surrounded by mountains on either side, the boatmen maneuver their boats down the river with just one oar giving their passengers the joy of both enjoying the scenery and the thrill of floating down a river.
1. Diesel Locomotive and Open Car Train
The Trolley Train is a five-car train powered by a diesel engine. Among the five cars, there is one that is special. It’s called the “The Rich” and it is the only car which doesn’t have glass windows, but instead has a glass ceiling. It also has a wire mesh floor allowing you to feel totally free. This sort of experience, rich in nature, is perfect for kids full of curiosity.
2. Tanuki Statues at the Station
At the Kameoka Trolley Station, there are many tanuki (Japanese raccoon dog) statues to greet you. These tanuki statues are Shigaraki ware, which is a type of stoneware and is considered one of the “Six Old Kilns of Japan.” In Japan, the tanuki is believed to pull people in and therefore you will often see tanuki statues outside of businesses. Visitors to the Kameoka Station are said to receive some good luck from the tanuki. What will you wish for when you visit the tanuki?
3. Interesting Rock Formations Along Hozugawa
The Hozugawa (river) which runs alongside the Trolley Train route, has some spots that run flow smoothly and some that are spots with a more rapid flow. You can see the result of many years of the river water flowing which has caused the erosion of the surrounding rocks. The combination of seasonal colors behind these interesting rock formations is sure to fill your heart with happiness.
4. Illumination of Hozugawa Area
We are approaching the season of leaves changing colors and the surrounding mountains slowly turning red. Along the route from Arashiyama Trolley Station to Kameoka Trolley Station there are a lot of illuminated spots during this season. At the best viewing spots, the train will stop for a few minutes to allow passengers to really take in the view. The illuminations will take place from the end of October through the beginning of December. Don’t miss this chance to see the changing leaves shining in the lights at night with your family.
5. Very Intense Hozugawa River Cruise
On the Hozugawa River Cruise, passengers cruise about 16 kilometers down the river in a boat that is only about 12 meters long being steered by a guide. As you cruise down the river the guide will give some sightseeing tips. (We’ve been told that the guides are studying English now so you may be able to ask some simple questions!). But, being able to get sightseeing tips is not the only good thing about the Hozugawa River Cruise. Hozugawa has a few points of rapid flow where you can feel the splash of the water and the boat’s speed will increase as the guide maneuvers the boat between rocks. It’s a thrilling ride and a fun experience to enjoy as a family!
6. Floating Store Along the Hozugawa River Cruise
After you have been thrilled by the rapids of the Hozugawa River Cruise, just as you are almost to the end, you will begin to see boats floating up beside the cruise boats. You’ll be surprised to know those boats are basically floating stores and sell foods such as grilled squid (ika-yaki), oden, and rice dumplings, as well as drinks like juice and beer. The floating store on the Hozugawa River Cruise is called the Kotogase and has a history of over 100 years! You can have Japanese food while cruising down the river. We hope you will enjoy this unusual experience.
7. Small kids can go on the Hozugawa River Cruise
Hearing about how thrilling the Hozugawa River Cruise is, you must be wondering if you can take small children. No need to worry, because small children can go on the cruise with you! You can hold your small child, or even ask them to load your stroller onto the boat. There is no age limit, so kids younger than 3 can ride on their mom or dad’s lap and enjoy the excitement.
Trolley Train & Hozugawa River Cruise – Fun for the Family
With several points which make kids happy, the whole family can enjoy the Trolley Train and the Hozugawa River Cruise. We hope your family will enjoy these activities in addition to the traditional sightseeing you can do in Kyoto!
Access to Trolley Train and Hozugawa River Cruise
Sagano Trolley Train
- From JR Kyoto Station take the JR Sagano Line to Sagano Arashiyama Station, from there walk about 5 minutes to the Sagano Trolley Station.
- From Sagano Trolley Station to Kameoka Trolley Station – trains run from 9:02 am to 4:02 pm
- From Kameoka Trolley Station to Sagano Trolley Station – trains run from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm
Kyoto, Kameoka Hozugawa River Cruise
- JR Kameoka Station – walk about 8 minutes.
- Kameoka Trolley Station – about 15 minutes by Keihan bus or about 25 minutes by a horse-pulled wagon.
- Hankyu Katsura Station – about 40 minutes by Keihan bus.
The time changes depending on the time of year. Please see the link below for more information.