Kiyomizu Temple (about four miles east of Kyoto Station) is one of the most impressive temples in all of Japan. Perched precariously on a steep hillside of My. Otowa, it is supported by 139 pillars and contains a 50-foot-high wooden veranda which juts out over a small valley, offering pleasant views of the nearby mountains and trees and of the city. The veranda is supported by 78 massive pillars and is so famous that there is an expression, “leaping off Kiyomizu platform” that means to “leap in the dark.” In the Edo Period (1603-1867), worshipers leaped of the edge of the platform with the belief that if they survived their 13-meter fall their prayers would be answered. According to one record at least 234 people made the leap between 1694 and 1864, with the youngest being 12 and the oldest 80. The survival rate was 85 percent.
Kiyomizu-dera Temple is arguably the most beloved temple in Japan. Founded in 798, its present buildings date mostly from 1633. It is entered from ‘Teapot Lane’, so-called because of the numerous shops lining the approach that sell Kiyomizu ceramics. Kiyomizu is dedicated to Kannon, the 11-face Buddhist goddess of mercy. The original temple was founded in 804 by a warrior lord who converted to Buddhism after meeting a monk on a hunting trip who admonished him for killing a deer to give the animal’s blood to his pregnant wife. It and other buildings have been repeatedly destroyed in fires and battles and been rebuilt at least 10 times. The main hall of the present temple was built in 1633 by the Tokugawa Shogunate.
The stage of Kiyomizudera temple covers 190 square meters and stands 13 meters high. It was last rebuilt in 1633. The pillars, measuring nearly one meter in diameter, support the foundation of the main temple and the stage, The are made from zelkova trees said to 1,390 year old. In the early 2010s, extensive repair work was conducted on pillars supporting Kiyomizudera temple. The damaged lower portions of the nine pillars underneath the main hall of the temple were replaced using the netsugi method, which literally means "joining roots." The pillars are made from zelkova trees.
Kiyomizu means “clear water temple.” This is a reference to small waterfall at the bottom of the ravine, where visitors can drink the “golden waters” which are believed to be sacred and have curative powers, with ladle-like cups. A number of walking paths weave around the temple, some of which that lead to small halls and pagodas and provide a variety of views of the main structure. At the Jishu shrine visitors walks 60 feet between a pair of stones. It is said that if you collide with the stone your aspirations for love will come true.
Kiyomizudera has long been a destination for pilgrims and is Kyoto most popular tourist destination, attracting about 4.5 million visitors a year. The crowds are thickest in cherry blossom and autumn leave seasons. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kiyomizu Temple is often swamped with school and bus-tour groups. Leading up to the temple is a pedestrian-only street, called Teapot Lane, lined with charming souvenir stands and shops. Some sweet shops give out free samples. Fake geishas are often spotted walking around here. Hours Open: 6:00am to 6:00pm Websites: Wikipedia Wikipedia ; Kyoto Travel Guide kyoto.travel ;Oriental Architecture orientalarchitecture.com ; UNESCO World Heritage site: UNESCO website
Sannenzaka Area (between Kiyomizu Temple and Yasaka Shrine) embraces three separate, sloped stages of pedestrian-only streets and walkways that are lined with tea houses with gardens, wooden houses, noodle restaurants and charming but expensive shop selling dolls, fans, Kiyomizu pottery, Nishijin weaving and souvenirs. The winding route through the Sannenzaka Area is one the most pleasant places in Kyoto to stroll around. Side streets lead to small temples, forested slopes, expensive inns and charming houses. The tourist office provide brochures detailing the route. Northeast Kyoto Map: Japan National Tourism Organization JNTO
Kaho Gallery (near Tofukuji Temple) is one of Kyoto’s best-kept art secrets, A residential gallery opened in 2012, it has shown works by masters such as painter Toshio Arimoto and sculptor Katsura Funakoshi, as well as young contemporary Japanese artists. The intimate and intense space creates for an ideal location to immerse oneself in art. Location: 15-778-1 Hon-machi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto 605-0981, Tel: +81-75-708-2670
Maruyama Park (a little to the east of Yasaka Shrine) is known for its beautifully landscaped garden and its magnificent cherry blossoms in spring. It is popular place for tired tourist to stop and take a break during a day of sightseeing. There a number of outdoor cafes, tea houses, beer stands and restaurants. During the spring it is favorite cherry-blossom viewing area. Particularly famous is a giant willow-like cherry tree.
Kawai Kanjiro’s House presents an excellent opportunity both to visit a traditional Japanese house and to view pottery created by the late, world-famous Kawai Kanjiro (1890-1966). Open 10:00am to 5:00pm Closed Monday, Mid. August, Late December and Early January
Glass Tea House is a transparent structure, constructed of thick glass panels. It has been described as modern exploration of traditional Japanese culture and was designed by Tokujin Yoshioka, whose creations have been displayed at MoMA and the Musée d’Orsay. The tea house is currently stands on the wooden observation deck of Seiryuden Temple in the eastern mountains of Kyoto overlooking the ancient imperial capital. Location: 28 Zushiokukacho-cho, Yamashina-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto 607-8456, Tel:+81-75-771-0390
Temples, Gardens and Shrines in the Sannenzaka Area
Kodaiji Temple (north of Kiyomizu Temple) was built by the widow of Toyotomi Hideoyishi to console the spirit of her husband. The garden surrounding the Kaisan-do Hall is designated a national historic and famous scenic place. Many treasures that were owned by the Hideoyoshi family are on displayed here.
Yasaka Shrine (north of Kodaiji Temple and east of Gion) is considered the symbol of Gion. With Maruyama Park in the background, this shrine is very popular among Kyotoites, many of whom come here to pray on important holidays. The main hall was built in 1654 in a unique architectural style called Gion-zukuri. In July it hosts the Gion Matsuri, one of Japan's three biggest festivals. Yasaka-jinja Shrine, affectionately called ‘Gionsan’ by the throngs of regular devotees, features one of the tallest Torii gates in Japan.
Shoren-in Temple (north of Chion-in Temple) is an elegant temple built on site of a former refuge for the emperor. The present building dates to 1895. Inside the main hall are lovely sliding screen paintings made in the 16th and 17th centuries. Outside are some nice gardens. The principal Buddha image is over 1,000 years old and is said to bring good luck to the world by emitting powerful beams of light. The image is often kept stored away but is sometimes displayed n the late autumn when the temple is illuminated with blue light-emitting diodes. Shoren-in Temple was long the residence of the head abbots of the Tendai sect, who were invariably imperial princes. Founded in 1144, the modernday structures were erected in 1895.
Shoren-in Temple Garden is considered one of the finest in Kyoto. It is a stroll gardens constructed by Soami and Kobori Enshu in the 16th century. The straight-line shaped washbasin donated by Toyotomi Hideyoshi is a rare masterpiece. Address: 69-1 Sanjobo-cho, Awataguchi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto Hours Open: 9:00am-5:00pm Admission: ¥500. Getting There: 3-minute walk from Jingu-michi Bus Stop.
Murin-an Villa Garden is a Landscape garden with richly flowing waterfall drawn from Lake Biwa which incorporates the distant view of Higashiyama Hill in its design, laid out in 1896. Address: 31 Kusagawacho, Nanzenji, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto Hours Open: 9:00am-5:00pm Admission: ¥400. Getting There: Near Keage Station on Subway Tozai Line.
Honen-in Temple (at the foot of Mt. Nyoigatake) is known for its quiet surroundings and attractive garden, is It is open to the public only in spring and autumn.
bell at Chion-in Chion-in Temple (north of Maruyama Park) is one of the largest and most famous Buddhist temples in Japan. The headquarters of the important Jodo sect, it was founded in 1234. The present buildings date mainly from 1619 to 1641. The massive main hall that can seat 3,000 people and features squawking “bush warbler” floors and a lavishly decorated golden alter. The temple also contains the largest gate in Japan, the largest bell in Japan (a massive 74-ton bronze made in 1633 that requires 17 monks to ring) and a large 24-hectare expanse with 104 buildings. When Albert Einstein visited the temple in 1922 he is said to have been particularly charmed by the “bush warbler” corridor.
Some believe Chion-in Temple was built up as a military fortress for the Tokugawa shogunate. The massive Sammon Gate is 24 meters high and 50 meters thick. From the balconies are splendid view os Kyoto. Some think the gate served as a watchtower in the event the temple was attacked. Some scenes from the Tom Cruise film “The Last Samurai” were shot at the large stone stairway to the main temple precinct.
Unlike many of Kyoto's temples, which are primarily tourist sight, Chion-in is a still a working temple. The headquarters of the Jodo Buddhist school, it is buzzing with religious activity. Inside the main hall there are often prayer sessions going on, with dozens of chanting of shaven-headed monks. Visitors are welcome to take off their shoes and sit in for as long as they like.
Ringing the massive bell is an important New Year’s event. It takes 17 monks to ring the bell, 16 of them to raise the giant wooden hammer by pulling it away from the bell with hanging ropes, while the 17th monk rides the hammer, ready to push off with his legs in the split second before impact. The chime produced by the bell last for 20 minutes. The event is often shown at New Year’s broadcasts. When Einstein visited in 1922 he investigated the bell and said that the assertion that the bell was inaudible directly underneath it when it was struck was based on sound physics.
Chionin has a nightingale Floor: According to one theory, the corridor was designed to produce the sounds when people walk through it in order to alert residents to the presence of intruders. The corridor is connected to an overhead beam by brackets. Over time, as the lumber dried and contracted, minute cracks appeared, causing the corridor to emit sounds when people walk through it, probably because of friction between the floor planks and between the fixing brackets and the beam. Major repair work on Chionin, scheduled to start in 2005, however, will see a 310-meter section of its 550-meter corridor replaced with a new one. As a result, the 310-meter section will cease to make sounds. Chionin's corridor is expected to make sounds again in 50 to 100 years, according to temple officials. Website: Choin-in English site chion-in.or.jp
Chishakuin Temple and Garden
Chishakuin Temple (Near Higashiyama Nanajo) is the headquarters of the Chisan School of the Shingon Sect of Buddhism, is a large temple complex accommodating high earthen walls standing on old stone bases, the dignified So-mon Gate facing Shichijo Street, and many other temple halls with Mt. Amida as a backdrop. The temple sits at the southern end of the 36 Higashiyama mountain ridges in Kyoto with over 20 temple halls nestled in the deep forest. Here you can learn about the important temple halls and buildings in the precinct. Discover the long and eventful history of Chishakuin Temple and enjoy exploring the large grounds.
The temple storage houses the National Treasure murals, claimed to be the best in Japan, painted by Tohaku Hasegawa and his disciples in the Momoyama period (16th century). One of Tohaku’s golden gorgeous paintings housed in Chishakuin Temple today used to adorn one of the halls of Shounzen-ji Temple (a predecessor of Chishakuin Temple). “Maple Tree,” “Cherry Blossoms,” “Pine Tree and Hollyhock” and “Pine Tree with Autumn Plants” are all designated as National Treasures. Experience the dynamic spectacle of these classic paintings depicting nature’s grandeur
Chishakuin Temple Garden is a Landscape garden for viewing from within a building, designed by Sen-no-Rikyu (1522– 1591), the great ceremonial tea master of the Momoyama Period. The garden retains a vestige of its former glory. According to the temples website: The origin of this garden, which is said to have been the favorite style of Sen-no Rikyu, the master of tea ceremony, was made in Shounzen-ji Temple (a predecessor of Chishakuin Temple) established by Hideyoshi Toyotomi. Later, after the temple was renamed Chishakuin, the 7th generation head monk, Unsho, took good care of the garden and transformed it into of the best gardens in the Higashiyama district.
“The garden is said to have pioneered the style of introducing artificial hills (tsukiyama) and a pond. Taking advantage of the natural elevation, the garden incorporates an artificial hill form replicating Mt. Rozan in China with a pond in the foreground. Rocks are skillfully allocated on and at the bottom of the hill to create a perfect aesthetic balance. The Daishoin Room, in which mural paintings (National Treasures) were formerly displayed, faces this garden. The pond extends beneath the porch of the Daishoin which is a similar feature, called Tsuridono, to the Shinden-zukuri architecture of the Heian period (794-1185). Viewing the garden from the Daishoin Room is superb in every season. Particularly noteworthy is when rhododendrons are at their height from late May to late June. The garden is adorned with colorful rhododendron flowers which will captivate all visitors.” Address: 964 Higashikawara-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto Hours Open: 9:00am-16:00 Admission: ¥500. Getting There: Near Higashiyama Nanajo Bus Stop. Website: The temples official site: chisan.or.jp/english
Yogenin (Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto) is a Buddhist temple in Kyoto famous for its nightingale floor. The wood-floored corridor in the main hall of the temple is called the "uguisu-bari no roka" (nightingale corridor) because its produces chirping sounds similar to those of a small bird when visitors moves through the corridor.
According to one theory, the corridor was designed to produce the sounds when people walk through it in order to alert residents to the presence of intruders. The corridor is connected to an overhead beam by brackets. Over time, as the lumber dried and contracted, minute cracks appeared, causing the corridor to emit sounds when people walk through it, probably because of friction between the floor planks and between the fixing brackets and the beam.Other temples or structures with corridors similar to those at Yogenin include Chionin, the main temple of the Jodo Buddhist sect in Kyoto, as well as Nijo Castle in the ancient capital.
Now the temple is on the verge of losing its sound. Beginning in January 2010 the temples started being overrun with tourists as it was featured in a popular television drama depicting the vicissitudes of the life of Go (1573-1626), a niece of warlord Oda Nobunaga and wife of shogun Tokugawa Hidetada, Kana Yokota wrote in the Yomiuri Shimbun, “Apparently, with the sharp rise in the number of visitors, the corridor's flooring has been wearing out and its special property of emitting birdlike sounds is being threatened, according to the temple.In a bid to stem the deterioration of the corridor's feature, temple authorities have posted a notice calling for visitors to "Please walk slowly!"
The corridor in the main hall measures about 12 meters long and two meters wide. A sliding door adorned with a lion-themed drawing by Tawaraya Sotatsu, a great artist of the early Edo period (1603-1867), as well as other classical artifacts, are on display on its walls.Yogenin officials said the temple previously received about 3,000 visitors a month, but that the number has doubled or tripled since the television drama started. There have been some visitors who go back and forth through the corridor, stomping on the floor for fun, presumably causing the corridor's fixing brackets to loosen.
About 30 percent of the corridor's surface has ceased to produce the attractive sounds they once did, according to the officials.It appears loosening the fixing brackets might have changed the way the corridor's planks rub against each other, they said.Repair work on the damaged corridor will take several years, and it will not be possible for sightseers to visit the temple during the repair period. Established in 1594 by Yodo, the elder sister of Go, for a memorial service for their father Asai Nagamasa, the temple was destroyed in a fire in 1619, but was rebuilt by Go later. On the grounds of the temple are the tombs of Go and her mother, Ichi, sister of Nobunaga.
Heian Shrine Area
Heian Shrine (west of Okazaki Park and accessible from Higashiyama Station in the Tozai subway line) contains several buildings spread around a huge courtyard and landscaped garden. A 5/8 scaled version of the original Imperial Palace, it was constructed in 1895 to commemorate the 1,100th anniversary of the founding of Kyoto and is dedicated to the spirit of Emperor Kammu (A.D. 781-806). The shrine has three ponds and five gardens which are admired for its cherry blossoms and iris flowers in season. The rear garden is the best.
Many people complain that the bright red buildings are too gaudy and the garden is nice but isn't necessarily worth the ¥600 admission charge. Two major event are held at the temple: Jidai Matsuri, featuring 2,000 people in period costumes, on October 22nd and Takigi Noh, with firelit Noh performances, on June 1st and 2nd.
Heian Jingu Shrine Garden is a Stroll garden constructed in 1895. This garden is well-known for its weeping cherry trees, maple trees, azaleas, irises and waterlilies. Characterized by the bridges crossing over the spring pond Taiheikaku and Garyokyo (stepping stones). Address: 97 Nishi-Tennocho, Okazaki, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto Hours Open: 8:30am-6:30pm (–4:30pm November–February, –5:00pm March 1–14 and October) Admission: ¥600. Getting There: Near Bijutsukanmae or Kyoto Kaikan Bus Stop.
Museums Near Heian Shrine
Museums Near Heian Shrine (Higashiyama Station in the Tozai subway line) include 1) Fureaikan Kyoto Museum of Traditional Art, a small free museum that showcases the main traditional crafts of Kyoto; 2) Nomura Art Collection, a musuem with 1,700 pieces collected by financier Tokushichi Nomura, with seven Important Cultural Properties including theTempest by Sesson Shūkei, Ki no Tomonori from the series Thirty-Six Poetry Immortals formerly in the Satake Collection; and 3) Sumitomo Collection, with rare bronze ware of ancient China up to 3,500 years old. There is a zoo nearby.
National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto (Momak) was established in 1963 to link traditional arts and crafts to 20th century ideas and vision, and Japanese modern art movements to those of the West. The current building was designed by Fumihiko Maki. It has hosted many high-calibre exhibitions such as the Mary Cassatt and James McNeill Whistler retrospectives. The permanent collection is comprised special themed sub-exhibitions that are synchronized with concurrent exhibitions. The museum also acts as a site for workshops and other educational programs organized by the museum.
The National Museum of Modern Art has a total floor area of 9,762 square meters and an exhibition area of 2,605 square meters. Particular emphasis is placed on artists or artistic movements in Kyoto and the Kansai area (the western region of Japan), such as Japanese-style paintings of the Kyoto School, with an overview of the mainstreams of Japanese modern art and craft movements as well as works from all over the world covering every genre of the crafts. Location: Okazaki Enshoji-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City, 606-8344; Tel: +81-75-761-4111; Admission: for special and travelling exhibitions differ between each exhibition. Admission to exhibitions include admission to the Collection Gallery.; Hours Open: Regular hours 9:30am-5:00pm (Admission until 4:30pm ); Evening hours 9:30am-20:00 (Admission until 19:30) (Every Friday and Saturday Only), Closed Mondays, New Year holidays (If the Monday is a national holiday, the museum is closed the following Tuesday) Getting There: 10-minute walk from Higashiyama Station on the Tozai Subway Line; Website: momak.go.jp
Kyoto Museum of Crafts and Design (in Miyako Messe, near Heian Shrine) is known in Japanese as Fureai-kan and was founded in 1977 and formerly known the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Traditional Industry. Not only does it have exhibits of various handicrafts made of silk, bamboo, lacquer, paper and ceramics, it also features demonstrations of centuries-old production methods by skills craftsmen and craftswomen. You can experience Yuzen dying firsthand. Many unique aspects of Japanese culture, including tea ceremony, flower arrangement, Noh and Kyogen theatres,have originated and flourished in Kyoto through its 1,000-year long history. Many traditional industries were developed with materials and techniques that local artisans have continued to use from generation to generation. According to the musuem: "it is our mission to develop projects that introduce various creative activities of modern craftsmen, and to provide a space where both creators and users. Location: 9-1, Seishoji-cho, Okazaki, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City, 606-8343 (Miyakomesse B1F); Tel: +81-75-762-2670; Fax: +81-75-761-7121; Hours Open: 9:00am-5:00pm (Admission until 4:30pm) Closed Dec 29 – Jan 3 and 2 days in the middle of August; Admission: Free; Getting There: 1-minute walk from City Bus Stop "Bijutsukan,Heian jingu-mae"l 10-minute walk from Higashiyama Station on the subway Tozai Line; Website: kmtc.jp
Kyoto City Kyocera Museum of Art opened in 1933 as the Kyoto Enthronement Memorial Museum of Art and was renamed the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art after World War II. It is the oldest public art museum in Japan and is housed in its original building. Two leading Japanese architects, Aoki Jun and Nishizawa Tezzo, masterminded the for the museum’s renewal project. introduced new designs while preserving original elements. Location: Okazaki Enshoji-cho Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City, 606-8344; Tel: +81-75-771-4334; Fax: +81-75-761-0444; Admission: depends on the exhibition; Hours Open: 10:00am-6:00pm (entry until 5:30pm ), Closed Mondays (open if Mon. is a national holiday), New Year holidays ; Getting There: 8-minute walk from Higashiyama Subway Station, 1-minute walk from City Bus Stop "Kyoto Kaikan Bijutsukan-mae" (#100 from Kyoto Station, #5 from Kyoto Station or Sanjo Keihan, #32, 46 from Shijo Omiya or Shijo Kawaramachi); Website: kyotocity-kyocera.museum
Higashiyama Hills Walk
Along the Winding Streets of Higashiyama Hills walk starts at the colorful Heian-jingu Shrine, from where you walk down to the beautiful landscaped gardens of Shoren-in Temple, and then down to the grand Chion-in Temple grounds. The main hall is eerily cold as you enter its large wooden doors. In the semi-darkness people kneel in prayer, chanting in hushed voices before the great altar. After a gentle stroll around Maruyama Park, you head through the bustle of Yasaka-jinja Shrine and along Ishibekoji, where rickshaw pullers call out for you to take a ride with them through the narrow streets as you climb to Kodaiji Temple. From here you pass along Yasaka Pagoda and up Sannenzaka Slope, a steep slope with quaint wooden houses, front doors lined with bonsai and crafts, all the way up to Kiyomizu-dera Temple.[Source: JNTO]
As you walk along the cobbled streets on a quiet spring evening, the stone lanterns in place for the Hana Toro (flower lantern) festival, guide you down the narrow lanes to temple gardens, which gently change color with the seasons. It's easy to lose yourself in the narrow stone-paved streets of Ishibekoji and Sannenzaka Slope with their countless traditional shops selling crafts and tea. Stepping beyond the facade into the dark teashop, you feel as if you've entered a world gone by, as the old lady wrapped in kimono kneels and bows as she pours the tea, and politely reminds you to remove your shoes.
Along Chawanzaka Slope (lit. Teacup Slope), the streets are all a bustle with people in search of the perfect piece of ceramic ware to take home from this lane-the home of artisans and the Memorial Museum of Kondo Yuzo, dedicated to the famous maker of ceramics honored as a Living National Treasure. This museum is just one of many as you spend a day wandering this atmospheric corner of the Old Capital.
Nanzenji Temple and Gardens
Nanzenji Temple (near Heian Shrine, east of Okazaki Park) is a pleasant Zen temple with a large grounds and many buildings. Originally a retirement villa for the Emperor Kameyama, who died in 1291, it is famous for its Sammon Gate, and the Karensansui (dry-landscape) garden laid out with rocks and white sand. Nanzenji became the headquarters of the great Rinzai sect in 1293. In spite of fires, an eclectic collection of notable structures remain. Most of the present buildings date to the 17th century.
In the Main Hall there is sliding screen painting of a tiger drinking water made in the 16th century by the artists of the Kano School who had never seen a real tiger and relied descriptions from Chinese and Indian sources. The result is a tiger that looks a dog. A path in the forest leads to a small shrine near a waterfall, under which monks pray in the middle of winter. From here hiking trails lead to Mt. Daimonji.
Nanzenji Hojo (Chief Abbot’s Chamber) is a Dry garden constructed in the 17th century by Kobori Enshu (1579–1647). A samurai general and master of tea ceremony who also demonstrated his versatility in architecture and gardening. One of the typical gardens of Zen temples. An arrangement of garden rocks called “The crossing of tiger cubs,” depicting a scene where the mother tiger leads its cubs across the river. Address: Fukuchicho, Nanzenji, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto Hours Open: 8:40–5:00pm (–4:30pm December–February) Admission: ¥500. Getting There: 10-minute walk from Keage Station on Subway Tozai Line. (in Nanzenji Temple)
Nanzenji Konchi-in Temple Garden is a Dry garden constructed in the 17th century by Kobori Enshu. A special nationally designated site for its scenic beauty. One of the most celebrated gardens in Kyoto. Address: Fukuchicho, Nanzenji, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto Hours Open: 8:30am-5:00pm (–4:30pm December–February) Admission: ¥400. Getting There: 10-minute walk from Keage Station on Subway Tozai Line (in Nanzenji Temple)
Nanzenji Nanzen-in Temple Garden is a Landscape garden for viewing from within a building, constructed in the 14th century by Muso Kokushi (1275–1351), a distinguished Zen priest. Its seclusive mood merging into the mountain landscape in the background attracts the visitor. Address: Fukuchicho, Nanzenji, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto Hours Open: 8:40–5:00pm (–4:30pm December–February) Admission: ¥300. Getting There: 10-minute walk from Keage Station on Subway Tozai Line (in Nanzenji Temple)
Path of Philosophy
Path of Philosophy (between Nanzenji Temple and Ginkakuji Temple) is a relatively quiet, 1½-mile-long, tree-lined, path that follows Sousui Canal and takes visitors by several well known shrines and temples as well as ceramic shops and tea parlors. The path is particularly popular in spring when cherry trees are in full bloom and early summer when fireflies come out. It is called the "Path of Philosophy" because a noted Japanese philosopher, Nishida Ikutaro, used to stroll along the route for meditation. Websites: JNTO JNTO ; Frommers Frommers.com; Walking the Path of Philosophy insidekyoto.com
According to a Japanese tourism brochure: “As you tread the moss-covered stones of the Path of Philosophy in the footsteps of many a great thinker, it isn't hard to see why the intellectuals of old would come here to seek their inspiration. In spring, the riverbank is ablaze with the ethereal pink of cherry blossoms, the breeze carrying fallen petals down stream as you reach Kumano Nyakuoji-jinja Shrine. On to Eikan-do Temple where the attendant watches you like a hawk, should you forget to remove your shoes before you tread the sacred hallways, then down to the Nomura Museum with its exquisite hanging scrolls and ceramics. A little further, the scent of offerings of incense surrounds you as you enter Nanzenji Temple through the grand Sammon Gate.” Getting There: From Kyoto station Take bus no. 5, 17, or 100 Get off at Ginkakuji-michi Bus Stop or Ginkakuji-mae Bus Stop and walk 5 min.
Hakusasonso Villa Garden (near the Path of Philosophy) is a Stroll garden built in 1916 by Hashimoto Kansetsu, a famous contemporary Japanese-style painter. On the way to Ginkakuji Temple. Address: 37 Jodoji-ishibashicho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto Hours Open: 10:00am-5:00pm Admission: ¥800. Getting There: Near Ginkakuji-michi Bus Stop.
Ginkakuji (Silver) Temple
Ginkakuji garden Ginkakuji Temple (at the end of the Path of Philosophy) was originally erected in 1489 as a villa for Ashikaga Shogun, a powerful warlord and shogun in the Muromachi Period (1336-1573). Designated as a UNESCO World heritage Site, it is called the Silver ("Gin") Temple because the he Ashikaga-era shogun originally wanted to cover the outer walls with silver foil. His wish was not realized because of his death in 1489, but the name stuck. Today, the exquisite pavilion and its famous garden are popular with visitors.
There are some lovely sliding door paintings inside the buildings but you have to pay extra to see them. The most enjoyable thing to do is sit on the edges of the main hall and enjoy the view of the garden and the pond. The main Zen-style building overlooks a pond surrounded by one of the best examples of a stroll style garden in Japan. The garden in fact is much more interesting than the temple.
Ginkakuji Temple (Silver Pavilion) Garden is a stroll garden combined with a dry garden built in the 15th century. The layout was influenced by the thought of Zen Buddhism. The Ginshadan of sand waves in front of the silver pavilion and the Kogetsudai with its piles of sand are beautiful. A path through garden meanders through a hillsides and passes moss-covered ground, trees, and a dry garden with white sand waves “Ginsyadan” (the Sea of Silver Sand) and decapitated cone of “Kougetsudai” (the Moon Mound), which represents Mt. Fuji. Address: 2 Ginkakujicho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto Hours Open: 8:30am-5:00pm (9:00am-16:30 December–February) Admission: ¥500. Getting There: Near Ginkakuji-michi Bus Stop. Websites: Shokoku shokoku-ji.jp ; Wikipedia Wikipedia ; UNESCO World Heritage site: UNESCO website
Image Sources: 1) 3) 5) Visualizing Culture, MIT Education 2) 4) 7) Kyoto Prefecture Tourism 6) Twin Isles 8) Ray Kinnane
Text Sources: JNTO (Japan National Tourist Organization), Japan.org, Japan News, Japan Times, Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan Ministry of the Environment, UNESCO, Japan Guide website, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.
Updated in July 2020