The Philosopher's Path, Kyoto 哲学の道
Running from Nanzenji Temple to Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion) in the northeast of Kyoto, the Philosopher's Walk is a roughly 2 km path that follows the beautiful Shishigatani Canal lined with many cherry trees, maples, and camellia.
Known in Japanese as "Tetsugaku no Michi," it is most visited during cherry blossom season in late March or early April, on hot summer evenings for its fireflies and again in November when the leaves turn color.
The path, which is closed to cars and motorcycle traffic, gets its name from Nishida Kitaro (1870-1945), a Kyoto University professor of philosophy, who used to stroll and meditate on the path.
Shops and cafes along the Philosophers Path
There are some shops and restaurants and stores selling the local ginger cookies, but for the most part it has remained understated. Most of the buildings along the path are private homes.
In addition to the temples and shops on Philosopher's Walk, there are a few galleries and craft shops. Entsuu (圓通) is a noted Japanese confectionary shop nearby.
For a break we recommend the riverside café: Green Terrace, where it is possible to get a bite to eat or have a drink. The cafe has a beautiful terrace which directly overlooks the path, which is very pleasant, especially in summer!
- Address: 72 テ ラ ス 哲学 の 道, Shishigatani Honenincho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-8421.
- Opening hours: Every day except Wednesday from 10 a.m to 6 p.m.
For souvenirs don't miss the Bougatei boutique, set up in a magnificent blue house that is impossible to miss. Here you will find Japanese handcrafted goods such as: bags, pouches, purses, jewelry, yukata, fans, chopsticks, etc.
- Address: 86 Jodoji Kamiminamidacho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606 - 8405.
- Opening hours: Every day from 11 a.m to 6 p.m.
Temples & Shrines
Close to Philosopher's Walk In addition to the UNESCO Silver Pavilion and Nanzenji, other temples and shrines can also be found along the path. They include Eikando, Kumano Nyakuoji Shrine, Reikanji, Anrakuji Temple, Otoyo Jinja and Honen-in.
Locals also often use the path, and it is popular among the dog-walking set, older people, and lovers both young and not so young.
Following the path of philosophy can be an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. There are many temples and shrines built not far from the famous path.
This will optimize visits and save time, as this part of the city is also only accessible by bus.
Begin your walk at Nanzen-ji, a very pleasant walk due to its large park and multiple temples. Continuing north, visitors can stop at Eikan-do Zenrin-ji, whose splendid garden is particularly famous in autumn.
It is then possible to stop to take a look at the small Kumano Nyakuoji-jinja shrine, nestled in the trees. This is where the canal and, therefore the Philosopher's Path begins. From there, you will find many small Buddhist temples set up east of the canal, along the side of the mountain, such as Reikan-ji, Anraku-ji, or even Honen-in.
Finally, the walk ends with the Ginkaku-ji, located at the north end of the Philosopher's Path and particularly popular with the locals. All you have to do is take a small shopping street that leads directly to the Silver Pavilion. The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with a zen and moss garden and a must see sight in Kyoto.
Be careful not to start this walk too late: the Ginkaku-ji, like most Japanese temples, closes at 5 p.m.