The Philosopher's Path, Kyoto   哲学の道

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The cherry blossoms along the Philosophers Path in spring

The cherry blossoms along the Philosophers Path in spring

The blush of autumn leaves gives all its magical path of philosophy Kyoto.

The blush of autumn leaves gives all its magical path of philosophy Kyoto.

The path of philosophy in Kyoto is a place full of beauty and serenity.

The path of philosophy in Kyoto is a place full of beauty and serenity.

The Famous Zen Walk of Kyoto

The Philosopher's Path (Tetsugaku no Michi in Japanese) in north-east Kyoto gets its name from a famous philosopher who regularly walked this route for quiet contemplation. This tree-lined path is now very popular with tourists, and it is extremely popular during hanami when the canal is covered with pink sakura petals. 

Kyoto: A Walk Along the Philosopher's Path

The founder of the Kyoto School, Kitaro Nishida (1870-1945), embodying the momentum of contemporary Japanese thought, passed through the Philosopher's Path every day on his way to university, probably reflecting on his concept of the "pure experience".

The Philosopher's Path (also called "the Path of Philosophy") is a tree-lined pathway that follows the canal. You will need to travel north-east of Kyoto to walk this very famous pathway. Its layout connects the Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion) to the north, and the Eikan-do Zenrin-ji temple to the south.

In this timeless place, the seasons mark their passage. The changing light modifies the landscape. Symbols of the ephemeral, cherry blossoms brighten up this place during the hanami: in fact, around a hundred sakura are planted along the canal.

To contemplate the pink and white blossoms of the hundreds of trees spread out over the two kilometers along the path is to inhale the scent of spring and remember that nothing lasts, even in Kyoto. In the fall, when maple foliage sets the wooded hills ablaze, the spectacle is truly magnificent. During the winter months, the area is calm. A melancholy or joyful journey, depending on the mood.

Philosopher's Path, Kyoto

Philosopher's Path, Kyoto

The Philosopher's Path in winter

The Philosopher's Path in winter

Shops and sights Around Philosophers Path

Besides the walk itself under the trees along the canal, many points of interest are scattered along the route.

The canal is lined with small bars, artisanal stalls and tea pavilions: it is possible to take a lunch or snack break at any time.

  • We particularly recommend the riverside café: Green Terrace, where it is possible to eat or to have a tea or a drink. You can enjoy a beautiful terrace directly overlooking the path, which will prove to be very pleasant (especially in summer!).

Green Terrace:

Address: 606-8421 Kyoto, Sakyo Ward, Shishigatani Honenincho, 72 テ ラ ス 哲学 の 道

Open every day except Wednesday from 10 a.m to 6 p.m.

  • Shopping, don't miss the Bougatei boutique, set up in a magnificent blue house that is impossible to miss. You will find typically Japanese handcrafted creations: bags, pouches, purses, jewelry, yukata, fans, chopsticks, etc.

Bougatei:

Address: 86 Jodoji Kamiminamidacho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606 - 8405

Open every day from 11 a.m to 6 p.m.


Along The Philosopher's Path

Following the path of philosophy can be an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone - or more. There are many temples and shrines have been built not far from the famous path.

It is possible to take a day or an afternoon to enjoy the complete course, for example, begin at Nanzen-ji temple, south of the Philosopher's Path, and end at Ginkaku-ji in the north. Or vice versa.

This will optimize visits and save time, as this part of the city is also only accessible by bus.


Nanzen-ji

Nanzen-ji

Zenrin-ji

View from Zenrin-ji

Entrance Ginkakuji

The raked gravel Ginkakuji.

Begin your walk at Nanzen-ji, a very pleasant walk due to its large park and multiple smaller 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 greenery. 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 in style with the Ginkaku-ji, located at the north end of the Philosopher's Path and particularly popular with the Japanese. 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.

Be careful not to start this walk too late: the Ginkaku-ji, like most Japanese temples, closes at 5 p.m.

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