Kyoto / Day 3

Is there anything more Japanese than wandering through a beautiful bamboo grove and drinking green tea in a tea house? Doing so is truly an otherworldly (dare I say, magical?) event that must be experienced at least once in your life - bonus points if Air's Alone In Kyoto is playing as your soundtrack. 

The famous bamboo groves of Kyoto are located in the outer western district of the city called Arashiyama. There's so many beautiful things to see here, so you can easily spend a day taking in the incredible sights. Tenryuji Temple is a great place to start, as it's listed as one of Kyoto's five great zen temples, as well as being listed on UNESCO's World Heritage Sites (although virtually everything in Kyoto is, so that may not being saying much!)

After a short walk from here, everything suddenly turns green as far as the eye can see. Bamboo grows tall and makes you feel as though you've walked onto the set of The House of Flying Daggers. The bamboo groves are an incredible space, neither words nor photos can truly do it justice. I recommend taking time to just enjoy your surroundings - the sunlight streaming though the canopy, the sound of the bamboo gently knocking against each other in the wind, and the surprisingly smooth texture of the bamboo.

At the end of the groves you'll come across the entrance to a remarkable sight. By paying 1000 yen (roughly $10) you can enter the former villa of the actor Okochi Denjiro. This gorgeous space holds several different gardens and buildings, including his living quarters and a tea house. The perfectly manicured gardens are endlessly fascinating, as are the traditional buildings around the area. 

Admission also includes green tea and a snack, which can be enjoyed out in the sun by the tea house.

After walking all day, I picked an old izakaya in Gion for dinner to complete the old-world Kyoto experience. There's nothing like taking a few steps back into the past every now and then!