Many people, on their visits to Japan, want to see bamboo, so they head to Arashiyama and complain about the crowds. I understand that - there were a lot of people there, and I expect more when I visit again in Nov'15 for autumn leaf viewing.
Early in our Kyoto visits we were introduced to Kodaiji temple (and Entokuin Teien - that needs to be a different review). The autumn illumination of the temple, 400 year old garden, special raked gravel garden and reflection pool are all fantastic, making it one of the more interesting places to visit in Kyoto. However, the temple also features a bamboo grove.
Possibly not as impressive as Arashiyama, the big advantage is that there are so many less people allowing people to actually appreciate the tall stand of bamboo and enjoy the sight either during the day or during night illumination (and even listen to the wind in the branches). It helps to have a B plan that is better than the A plan.
Famous as a memorial to the warlord, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the first Shogun. It was built by his widow in 1606, and is famous for its zen grounds and rock gardens. The temple is southeast of the Gion district.
Kodaiji (高台寺) was established in 1606, and is located in Kyoto's Higashiyama area. The temple was built for Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who unified most of Honshu in the late 1500s and built Osaka Castle. Kodaiji is famous for its rock garden and its green garden. Most buildings in this temple have been destroyed and rebuilt.
Nearby is a temple called the Ryōzen Kannon (霊山観音) that features a giant 80 foot tall white concrete statue of Buddha. This structure, completed in 1955, honors two million of Japan's dead from World War II. Unlike Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which also honors Japan's war dead, Ryozen has managed to avoid controversy.
Kodaiji Temple was built in 1606 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi's widow to pray for him. The landscape was designed by Kobori Enshu and features a Zen sand garden, rolling hills, a small pond, and carefully placed rocks. The bridge connecting the main buildings is an iconic feature. There is also a bamboo grove. The temple grounds are fairly large and spacious.
Entrance is 600 yen.
Three fantastic tea houses: One at the entry - with a large round window. Perfectly manicured gardens. At the top of the wooded hillside, past the bamboo grove, sits two more tea houses, connected by attractive covered walkways. Unique two-floor tea house design.
Museum and gift stores across the street.
Do not miss the japanese paistry restaurant nearby for one of the best micro-gardens in Kyoto. The rickshaw drivers pull up to a perfect framed window looking into the Kobe fish pond.