The Philosopher's Walk is a pleasant stroll path that runs alongside a canal in the shadow of the eastern mountains between Ginkaku-ji Temple (the Silver Pavilion) and the Nyakuoji Bridge. It passes very close to Anraku-ji Temple and Honen-in Temple, two quiet and picturesque temples that are less visited than Ginkaku-ji Temple.
The Walk is renowned across Japan for its beautiful spring cherry blossoms, which overhang the path like a canopy. The path was a favorite place for several well-known figures, including the famous philosopher Nishida Kitaro.
It took us about an hour for the walk each way ... we did it very slowly and enjoyed the cherry blossoms and stopped at several shops along the way !!!!!
This is a pleasant walk along the side of the canal, from Ginkaku-ji to Nanzen-ji temple, passing other temples en route
It is called the Philosopher's Walk or Path after Professor Nishida Kitaro (1870-1945) who used to walk this route every day.
It's particularly pretty in cherry blossom season. There are plenty of places to stop off to purchase souvenirs or have refreshments.
The route is only about a mile long, but it takes a while because of all the stops along the way.
The memory of the Philosophers’ Path during cherry blossoms season is dear to my heart even though I would have enjoyed it with less people around, at the time.
The old path winding its way along a small river across the old city of Kyoto, bordered on both sides by tall cherry trees sometimes forming a white arch of flowers above our heads, will stay with me forever… So will the elegant Japanese ladies dressed in their best kimono, with intricate obi designs shimmering in the sun, walking with little steps on the uneven granite cobble stones that paved the way… So will the impossibly blue sky, and the floating petals in the breeze.
The path was named tetsugaku-no-michi (Philosopher's Path) because the famous philosopher Kitaro Nishida often meditated as he walked along it on his way to and from Kyoto University. It sounds like an ancient path however, Kitaro walked here in the early 20th century. The path runs along part of the Lake Biwa Canal, which was only completed in 1890.
The path is lined with cherry trees, so it is gorgeous during the cherry blossom season, as well as autumn. It extends from Ginkakuji Temple all the way past Eikando, near Nanzenji Temple. The walk is really made pleasant when you take the time to visit the sites along the way. Honen-in Temple, Nyakuoji Shrine, and Eikando are all along the path, and Ginkakuji and Nanzenji near each end all make it a great place.
Do note that especially during the cherry blossom season the Philosopher's Path is crawling with tourists! It is definitely not a good meditation ground during that time, but the blossoms are undoubtedly beautiful!
After seeing the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji), I felt that going to the Silver Pavilion (Ginkaku-ji) will not be worth the time and additional entrance fee. But my wife and I got down the bus at the pavilion's stop to stroll on the recommended Path of Philosophy (Tetsugaku-nomichi). It was a gradual downhill walk of almost an hour, and as described it was along a canal and not much else to see. It was July so the cherry trees were not in bloom nor were other flowers, so in short the path was not as colorful as it should be.
At the end of the path, you'll find yourself in the middle of a regular residential community far from the nearest bus stop or subway station.
The bottom line: I think this path was an utter waste of time and energy. Save it for the other sights.
Philosopher's Walk is a 2km walk along a small river.
The lanscape should be beautiful during early Spring time when Cherry blossom can be seen along the river.
There are also quite a number of temples and shrines along the way, but most of them are quite a distance from the river itself.
You can start either from Nanzenji or Ginkakuji.
If you are visiting Kyoto, you will soon find out that every guide book and probably every other visitor knows to take this ageless walkway. But even if it is somewhat crowded with people, it doesn't bear scars of over commercialization like famous sites sometimes do. Here you can still set your own pace and enjoy the atmosphere that the trees and waterway provide, even if you don't exactly have the solitude to do some deep thinking.
You can take the easy walk up and then return by bus if you want. That's what we did, but after extending the walk to see other sites in the area. The Philosophers' walk is rather refreshing.
It is a nice popular trail to walk and ponder like a philospher. There is zen in the air.
The trail connects many temples and follows along a canal. You can see herons and willow trees and many cherry blossom trees.
Unfortunately it was a few days from cherry flower blooming when I was there. So I have to go back again.
The Path of Philosophy (Tetsugaku no michi) is a pleasant path besides a canal that connects Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion) with the vicinity of Nanzenji.
Cherry blossom trees are planted along most of the two kilometer long path, making it one of Kyoto's most popular spots for hanami (cherry blossom viewing) in spring.
In addition, several smaller temples and a few restaurants and cafes can be found along the way.
If you're in the mood for a pleasant afternoon stroll, come and take the Philosopher's Walk. It's a 1km path beside the canal, lined with lovely shady trees. Go at 3pm and stop for a cup of coffee at one of the quaint cafes or browse the interesting lovely shops here.
We met some lovely children who entertained us along the way and nice old couple rekindling a bit of romance (see pictures)
Between Ginkakuji Temple to the north and Nanzenji Temple to the south is the 1 km Path of Philosophy (Tetsugakuno-michi).
The path was named after the famous philosopher Nishida Kitaro, who liked to walk along this route and meditate on philosophical matters. It's a pleasant stroll alongside a canal, past numerous temples and old wooden houses. This was the first thing we did in Kyoto as it is not far from the hotel where we stayed. It was already late afternoon, so many of the temples on the way were already closed (around 5 pm), but this was okay as most of the crowds had already vanished and the afternoon sun on the cherry trees in full bloom was quite romantic!
There are many small cafés along the path, but they are very expensive, so if you are looking for a snack or something you should leave the tourist route (which is always advisable!), you'll find cheaper restaurants only a few meters away.
If you only have a few days in Kyoto, I really recommend you shouldn't miss out on the philosopher's path in Easterm Kyoto which runs from Nanzen-ji to Ginkaku-ji (Silver pavillion). Whilst it's especially beautiful during the sakura season and during fall, there is no doubt that this is a pleasant walk all year round if conditions co-operate.
Whilst the obvious attractions are the Silver Pavillion and Nanzen-ji you can also find some gems if you wander off the beaten path to some of the smaller temples along the way. We found these to be very quiet and pretty in their own ways. The walk took us about 2 hours including visiting the gardens of the silver pavillion and the grounds of the Nazen-ji although this depends on what you decide to look at on the way.
Whilst not essential, during busy seasons it may be better to get an early start to beat the tourists.
You will find this philosopher's walk when you are going to Ginkakuji.
By the way, i didn't know this "walk" when my first time to Ginkakuji.
This picture was taken in my second visit, so see clearly the sign ^^;
The Walk of Philosophy (Tetsugaku no michi) is a pleasant path besides a canal that connects Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion) with the vicinity of Nanzenji.
Cherry trees are planted along most of the over one kilometer long path, making it one of Kyoto's most popular spots for hanami (cherry blossom viewing) in spring. The trees are usually in bloom in the beginning to mid April.
In addition, several smaller temples and a few restaurants can be found along the way.
It is quite a lengthy walk. Proper shoes are highly recommended.
I'm not much of a flower person, but I really enjoyed the cherry blossums. I had not even planned the trip around it, I just lucked out that the blossums bloomed early and were in full bloom when I visited Kyoto.
If at all possible, alter your travel plans so that you are going to be in Kyoto around April.