Arashiyama (which translates to "Storm Mountain") is located on the western part of Kyoto and is right across the Oi River. Many of the pictures of the bright green Bamboo trees you have seen are probably from this area, as the "Arashiyama Bamboo Grove" is among the most well known places in Japan! This district was basically a small town and even though I am also living in a small town, the Arashiyama district felt completely different, very peaceful and slowed down. I was lucky enough to experience the many things Arashiyama has to offer including the bamboo trees.
We started off with the colourful and bright Kimino Forest located right at Arashiyama Station. You can walk along a trail with poles wrapped in Kimino fabric on either side of you. It leads to "Pond of the dragon" where it is said if you dip your hands in the cold (freezing in winter) water you will be blessed with peace and tranquility in your life.
Directly across from the station we saw a huge sign for Tenryu-Ji Zen Temple which is a United Nations World Heritage Site as well. I forgot to mention I woke up at 5:30 just to get here early and beat the tourist rush. So far in Japan, this zen temple is hands down my favourite. I think one of the main reasons for this is the Sogenchi Garden which is inside the temple. The mesmerizing pond with the Japanese plants and trees surrounding it had me at a loss for words. The unmelted snow in the morning added a perfect final touch. One of the main attractions here is the Clouded Dragon Painting that you saw in the video above. The Cloud Dragon was made in the happo nirami style, so the dragon appears to be looking directly at you no matter where you are standing. Oh and funny story, it is actually extremely forbidden to take any photos or videos of this temple :O and there I was with my huge Canon T3i with the bulky battery grip and my huge tripod :P . No one said anything to me, maybe because it was so early and we were the only ones there!
Trying to find the bamboo grove we stumbled across Arashiyama Monkey Park and decided to go check it out. It was a nice light hike to the top of the mountain where all the monkeys are located. When we got to the top I stopped to take a breath and my friend nudged me, pointing up. All around us in the trees, we were surrounded by monkeys, almost on every single branch! We were able to buy some apples and sweet potatoes and got to feed them! If you go here though be careful as the older monkeys are quite savage...you have been warned. We wanted to feed the cute babies but the older monkeys would literally slap the little ones off the wall. All in all the park was fun and the Japanese Macaque's were kind of cute (the babies were cute , the older ones were petty nasty not going to lie.) Every monkey I passed by kept opening their mouth at me so I just assumed they wanted food or something. Later on we found a warning sign that said if a monkey opens its mouth at you it means anger or agitation and it will most likely attack...
Relieved and not being mauled by Japanese monkeys, we made our way to the main attraction : BAMBOO! Not much to be said about the grove because words don't do it justice. When you are standing in the middle of the forest with huge Bamboo trees all around you, pockets of sunlight piercing down, all you can do is silently take in the beauty. There were many people (mostly Chinese tourists) wearing traditional Kimono's and walking around. You can actually rent them for a day along with a professional photographer.
We ended with nice big bowl of steaming Udon and headed home.