Since we had visited Tenryuji at two earlier occasions (you can see a picture of its landscape garden here), we decided to focus on places new to us (but do, by all means, go to see Tenryuji). Instead we took a stroll through town to admire Togetsukyo, the moon crossing bridge, a major landmark, and then through the famous and truly impressive bamboo groves. Behind the bamboo grove, the grounds of the villa of movie star Denjro Okochi can be visited. Of course one wonders a little how good the garden of a movie star can be, compared to all the centuries-old gardens that Kyoto’s temples have to offer. Well, it turns out it can be pretty good. The fellow definitely chose a nice spot of land with a gorgeous views and must have had an excellent garden architect. We did not regret our visit, it’s definitely worth it. The ticket price of 1000Y may seem high at first, but it includes a cup of matcha with a traditional sweet, which usually goes for at least 500Y.
During more than one month back in Japan, we couldn’t very well miss out on Kyoto, could we? After all, you cannot spend too much time in Kyoto. Apart from revisiting the places we’ve grown fond of over time, we also explored something new. In the hills in the north-east of town lies Arashiyama (嵐山), named after one of the mountains. The region also goes by the name of Sagano. The nobles have enjoyed this getaway for its natural beauty for centuries already, and it is still a mayor touristic attraction (how much can be measured by the sheer density of souvenir shops that line the streets). Maybe its most important sight is the Zen temple of Tenryuji (天竜寺), designated UNESCO World Heritage.
After the garden, we finally took the Torokko or Sagano Romantic Train for a scenic 25 minutes ride along the ravine of the Hozu river to Kameoka Station from where a fast service back to Arashiyama or Kyoto can be caught.Arashiyama has a lot to offer to the visitor, from scenic beauty (which must be especially impressive during tinted leaf season in late autumn) over impressive temples and beautiful gardens to scores of souvenir shops offering the finest Kyoto crafts. There are many more temples we did not yet have the chance to explore, so I expect to be back in Arashiyama again in the future, and probably more than just once.