We got up at the crack of dawn to travel over to the Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama. Before getting to the forest, we passed by Tenryuji Temple which had a collection of trees with beautiful autumnal leaves turning every shade of red. We then continued to the Bamboo Forest and were lucky enough to beat the crowds, and bizarrely there were a few couples in wedding attire having pictures!We walked through the beautiful forest and headed towards a temple I had read about and suspected was a secret gem.
Otagi Nenbutsuji was absolutely amazing and one I highly recommend. There was only us and one other couple there as I assume it is not widely known about. The temple is hidden in the hills of Arashiyama. It has a collection of 1200 Rakan statues that represent the disciples of the historical Buddha. Each statue was carved by a different person, and each one is unique, some have humorous expressions or whimsical poses. There are two statues sharing a laugh and a sake, another with a portable cassette player. The temple costs only 300 yen to enter and is absolutely fascinating to visit.
We spotted a lovely little café on our way back in the village and stopped for pancakes. The houses on the walk back were beautiful and very traditional. My favourite though was a house with framed pictures of their golden retriever dog hanging on the outside!
We then got a taxi to the Golden Pavillion Temple which was stunning, surrounded by grounds where there were lots of women sweeping piles of leaves.
Our taxi driver recommended we visit a Zen garden further down the road from the Golden Pavillion. Named Ryoanji Temple which has a stone garden which is meant to be viewed from a seated position on the veranda of the ‘hojo’.
That night we headed to Gion and felt lucky enough to spot a Geisha walking through the back streets. She was absolutely beautiful and felt almost mythical, one moment she was there and the next disappeared into the night.