Walking along Philosopher’s Path (also known as Philosopher’s Walk and Tetsugaku no Michi) in Kyoto may not take that long, but there is truly a lot to see around it, and what’s most interesting about it is that you can actually have a delightful course meal culminating in pizza
The path itself is named so because of a Japanese philosopher, Nishida Kitaro, who used to take daily walks along it. The path follows a canal, and it’s lined on both sides with cherry trees, meaning that it turns pink in spring and into beautiful shades of red and yellow in autumn.
The route we’re going to take starts from Nanzen-ji Temple and ends at Ginkaku-ji Temple (as a bonus, there’s also Konkai Komyo-ji Temple after the Silver Pavilion). Since if you follow this itinerary you’re going to spend the most of the day around this area, you could even start the day at Keage Incline, a picturesque slope with railroad tracks that were used to carry boats.
So, for our day in Kyoto, I recommend getting to Keage Incline at around 9 am so that you have plenty of time to check out all the temples! (In case you have temple fatigue, getting to this area around lunchtime will work too.) The easiest way to get to Keage Incline is by taking the subway to Keage Station.
Nanzen-ji Temple is famous for the aqueduct going through it, but it also has many pretty Japanese gardens and temple buildings, not to speak of the huge Sanmon gate (you can even climb up to it for a small fee). The best way to enjoy Nanzen-ji Temple is to hit at least one garden (Konchi-in is a good choice) and then go see Nanzen-in, the main buildings of the temple and its gardens. And don’t forget to have your picture taken below the aqueduct!
Eikan-do Temple is renowned for its pond and the maple trees surrounding it, making it one of the most popular spots to hit during the autumn leaves season. The world around you will turn completely red here; be sure to have your photo taken on the bridge over Hojo Pond!
Open: 9 am – 5 pm (enter by 4 pm）
Also open at night during their Special Autumn Nighttime Entrance event.
This is a cozy little udon shop that is famed both for its broth and the cheap prices of its udon noodles. This is a great place to fill up before continuing your temple and shrine filled day, especially as you’re probably going to be having quite a lot for dinner (if you go to the restaurant we’re recommending for dinner).
Open: 11 am-3 pm, closed on Sundays.
This shrine enshrines the three-legged raven, Yatagarasu, that is also the mascot of the Japanese soccer team. The shrine is beautiful in autumn when the leaves turn into shades of red and yellow, and as it’s a bit removed and not as famous as the surrounding temples, you shouldn’t have to worry about the crowds that much here.
They also have really cute fortune slip animals here, so for only 500 yen, you not only get to know your fortune but also get to be the proud owner of a fortune slip Yatagarasu raven.
As you head for the next temple, take a moment to enjoy the views as you walk on Philosopher’s Path. The path is lined by cherry trees and is as beautiful in autumn as it is in spring.
This temple is renowned for its autumn leaves, and especially of a maple tree that is over 350 years old. This maple tree is for many people the reason why they decide to visit this temple at least once a year (it’s only open to the public during peak season), but there is another good reason too: you can often see cute golden retrievers taking it easy on the temple porch.
Open: 10:00 am-4:30 pm, November 17-December 2 (Dates for 2018)
Honen-in Temple is quiet, and it has a beautiful pond with little bridges over it. The temple is close to Philosopher’s Path, but it still feels like you had entered a completely different world since everything around you will be green (in autumn, red and yellow).
Open: 6 am-4 pm
This temple is most often referred to as the Silver Pavilion, and it’s almost as famous as the golden one on the other side of Kyoto. The temple was originally supposed to be covered with silver leaf, as the golden pavilion was covered with gold leaf, but this never manifested, leaving the temple to look very wabi-sabi; accepting its imperfection.
March 1 to November 30: 8:30 am-5:00 pm
December 1 to the last day of February: 9:00 am-4:30 pm
Konkai Komyo-ji Temple, also known as Kurodani-san among the locals, is a temple that is a bit off the beaten path, but still is historically important, and what’s more important, very beautiful in autumn when the red leaves surround the huge main gate of the temple. And you can climb up the gate here too (only in autumn though)! It’s not as easy to find this temple as the others, so have Google Maps ready when you’re going to it. It closes a bit early but is open at night in autumn.
9 am-4 pm
Autumn night viewing: 6 pm-9 pm, November 9 to December 2. (Dates for 2018)
The next and final step of our short journey in Kyoto is to enjoy great company, great drinks, great food, and most importantly, great pizza at Monk, a restaurant that has already been featured on The Wall Street Journal. The restaurant offers a cornucopia of vegetables from northern Kyoto, all cooked to perfection in their pizza oven, and the experience here is something unique; it’s just you, the chef, and the people around you who are partaking in the feast. Highly recommended if there’s even a little bit of a foodie in you.
Open: 5:30 pm-11 pm
Service starts at 5:30, 7:00, and 8:30 pm, and you have to be there at that time. Only reservations, no walk-ins.
|Sampo[ Sharing Kyoto Staff ]|