If you go to Kyoto you’ll definitely want to visit the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. It’s a picture worthy spot and it’s also an extremely beautiful experience.
It’s hard to describe losing yourself while you walk through the forest. It’s kind of like finding yourself in a scene from a Miyazaki movie, where you’ll never know what will appear behind the bend. Even though I have to admit that the magical experience is a little turned down by the number of tourists you’ll meet. But of course we can’t expect to be alone in one of the most photographed spots in the city!
In Arashiyama you will also find a few temples that can be visited. First of all Tenryu-ji Temple, close to the station, is a perfect example of how the temple was built around the existing scenery, incorporating the elements with a perfect balance; you must explore its pond and garden.
Within the forest you’ll Denjiro Okochi’s estate with its spiral garden and teahouse. You can also find Seiryo-ji Temple, that houses a few National Treasures within its walls. Rakushisha is filled with stones inscribed with poems by the famous haiku poet Basho Matsuo. Nison-in Temple that until the 1800’s was one of the only four temples to conduct imperial Buddhist ceremonies. Gio-ji Temple dedicated to a dancer and lover of a military leader. Ichi no Torii instead leads to Mt. Atago and the Atago Shrine, and on the way up you can meet Adashino Nenbutsu-ji Temple with its 1000 Buddhist images.
It is possible to visit the forest also at night time, since part of the path is lit up with lanterns. The experience must be very interesting, given the already scenic location.