To immerse yourself in one of Japan's most magical landscapes, head west from Kyoto until you reach the Arashiyama district. This district, nestled in the heart of nature, was the Imperial Court's favorite countryside retreat during the Heian period from 794 to 1185.
Here, you can stroll through monumental gardens, marvel at cherry trees, or climb the mountain to spot the local monkeys. The most incredible activity, however, is a walk through the famous bamboo grove, which was the setting for scenes in the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Bamboos surround as you wander down this 550-yard path, some of them reaching nearly 100 feet high. They block out the sun, allowing only a few rays of light to pass through and providing a stunning view when you look up.
Take advantage of this respite in nature to inhale deeply and listen as the wind rustles through the bamboo tops. For absolute tranquility, we recommend arriving in the early hours of the morning. Another great way to visit the bamboo grove is by bike or by hiring a rickshaw. In December, visit at night to see the Hanatoro lights.