Region
Kansai
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Kyoto
Population
2,644,331

Philosopher’s Path

Named after an actual philosopher, this streamside path inspires a zen state of mind.

Appropriately earning its famed name, a contemplative stroll along the Philosopher’s Path (known as Tetsugaku no michi) is the best way to spend an hour or two exploring Kyoto on foot. Away from the bustling downtown quarters, this residential backstreet, free to both pedestrians and deep thinkers, is more than just a breath of fresh air.

The stone-paved path that runs between Ginkaku-ji and Nanzen-ji in Kyoto’s northern Higashiyama district is, in fact, named after an actual philosopher, Kitaro Nishida, who took frequent meditative walks along this now popular tourist trail.

Ginkakuji Temple

Start or end your contemplative stroll at Ginkaku-ji temple.

Following along the pristine waters of the Shishigatani Canal, you’ll pass a number of noteworthy temples and shrines, as well as a handful of charming cafes serving up a nostalgic cup of hand drip coffee or a frothy brew of matcha.

A few meditative spots to keep your eyes peeled for are Honen-in Temple (a serene sanctuary still in active use as a Buddhist monastery), Otoyo Shrine (a small place of worship guarded not by shrine dogs, but instead by fearsome mice ), as well as the sprawling temple complexes of both Eikan-do and Nanzen-ji.

The ever-changing foliage from fall to spring displays a reel of classic Japanese seasonal showstoppers; from autumn-tinted cherry trees to winter blooming camellias, to lush greenery playing host to fireflies in the summertime. The biggest crowd-pleaser though are the pink blooms of cherry blossoms canopying the canal in a luminous pink hue each spring.

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Things To Know

Access

The Philosopher’s Path is best accessed from either Ginkaku-ji Temple (Silver Pavilion) or Nanzen-ji Temple—the southern and northern end of the Philosopher’s Path, respectively.

How To Get There

Address

Tetsugaku-no-michi, Sakyō-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu, Japan

By train

For accessing the path nearest Nanzen-ji Temple (the northern end), take the Tozai Subway Line to Keage Station (approx. 20 minutes from Kyoto Station via Karasuma Oike Station).

By bus

For accessing the path route nearest Ginkaku-ji Temple (the southern end), take Kyoto City Bus number 5 or the Raku Bus (a loop bus catered to tourists) number 100 from Kyoto Station to Ginkakuji-mae stop (approx. 25 minutes).

Where To Stay

Villa Honenin Nishi
  • Sakyo-ku Shishigatani Honenin Nishimachi 20 Kyoto-Shi, Kyoto 606-8427
  • 0.2 km
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Guest House Aoi Nakamoto
  • Sakyo-ku Shishigatani Honenin Nishimachi 26 Kyoto-Shi, Kyoto 606-8427
  • 7.5/10
  • 0.2 km
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RokuRoku
  • Sakyo-ku Shishigatani Nishi Teranomaecho 28-1 Kyoto-Shi, Kyoto 606-8425
  • 9.2/10
  • 0.3 km
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Aoi Philosophers Path Villa
  • Sakyo-ku Kitanobocho Nanzenji 10 Kyoto-Shi, Kyoto 606-8446
  • 9/10
  • 0.6 km
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