The Philosopher’s Path (Wikipedia) is a beautiful stone path through the northern part of Kyoto’s Higashiyama district. The path follows a small canal which is lined with hundreds of cherry trees. In early April these trees explode with white and pink sakura blossoms, making this one of Kansai’s most popular hanami spots. While it’s a great experience any time of year, be prepared for crowds in April.
Approximately two kilometres long, the path begins around Ginkakuji (Silver Temple) and ends in the neighbourhood of Nanzenji Temple. The path gets its name because of Nishida Kitaro, one of Japan’s most famous philosophers. He was said to practice meditation while walking this route on his daily commute to Kyoto University.
There are restaurants, cafes, and boutiques along the path, as well as a number of smaller temples and shrines which are a short walk from the canal.
Historical Note: The canal that the path follows is part of the Lake Biwa Canal. It tunnels 20 kilometers through the mountains to Lake Biwa in nearby Shiga Prefecture. The canal was built during the Meiji Period in order to revitalize the stagnating local economy, and was used to power Japan’s first hydroelectric power plant. A beautiful aqueduct, which is part of the canal, can be seen near Nanzenji Temple.
Ginkakuji Temple can be accessed by direct bus number 5, 17 or 100 from Kyoto Station in about 35-40 minutes. Follow the path south from there.
|Otoyo Jinja Shrine|
|Eiken-do Zenrin-ji Temple
(The Temple of Maple Leaves)
Editorial Review: 😍
Walking this path and visiting the temples is a great way to spend a sunny day. It’s great any time of year, but as always, Spring and Fall are very popular due to the sakura and autumn seasons.