An insightful walk along the Philosopher’s Path

Whether it’s a crisp autumn afternoon or a sakura filled spring morning, a walk along the Philosopher's Path is always pleasant. The path is named for Nishida Kitaro, who would ponder along the cherry tree lined path on his way from Nanzenji Temple to Ginkakuji Temple. It takes about 30-45 minutes to walk between the two temples. 

A day of temple hopping 

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Located at the southern end of the Philosopher’s Path, Nanzenji is best known for its large Sanmon gate and western-looking aqueduct. The gate is made from wood, and visitors are able to climb to the balcony of the aged structure. The temple grounds are spacious and visitors can walk around freely, admiring the architecture and nature. The temple is surrounded by vast greenery, which turns vermilion red in autumn. 

Nanzenji is open from 8:40AM to 5:30PM. Admission is 500 JPY. 

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Ginkakuji, or the Silver Pavilion, lies at the northern end of the path. The temple is not actually silver, it is named after Kinkakuji, or Golden Pavilion, which it was also modeled after. Ginkakuji is less crowded than its golden sister (brother?), but is still worth visiting for its traditional gardens. Visitors follow a path behind the temple to tour a moss garden, a sand garden, and lastly climb a small hill that overlooks the grounds. 

Ginkakuji is open from 8:30AM to 5PM. Admission costs 500 JPY. 

The two kilometer path is quiet but still has a variety of cafes and eateries along the side streets.

Enjoy wood and lacquerware showroom 

Restaurant Kisoartech Ginisho

Kisoartech is a home and lifestyle design company specializing in working with wood and lacquerware. They only have three showrooms throughout the country - Nagano, Tokyo, and Kyoto. At their Kyoto showroom, browse the entire first floor furniture and kitchenware. Their second floor is a minimalist eat-in space encouraging visitors to simply enjoy the Philosopher’s Path aesthetic. We recommend Matcha and wagashi (650 JPY), a cup of matcha green tea served with a seasonal Japanese-style confectionery.

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Search for Mo-An, a hidden teahouse

Restaurant Mo-an

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Slightly off the beaten path, towards Ginkakuji, is Mo-An, a rustic and wooden teahouse filled with comfortable seats and traditional desserts. Located on the top of Yoshida Hill, the windows of Mo-An overlook vast greenery, making it feel like a secluded house in the forest. The path to Mo-An can be difficult, requiring a traverse upon multiple stairs. However, the view from the top and the desserts in the cafe make the walk worthwhile. Mo-An also serves light lunches, starting from 1400 JPY. The desserts and drinks start from 500 JPY. 

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Mo-An is open from 11:30AM to 6PM and is closed on Mondays. 

Eat local for lunch at Katsutake 

Restaurant  Katsutake

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For a heartier option, Katsutake is a small eatery located in a residential area. Their set menu changes often, but they always serve yuba tofu, a Kyoto favorite. Yuba tofu is made from tofu skin, a creamy accompiant without dairy. In winter, it is served in a hot soup, in summer it can be served cold alongside other side dishes. Tofu is always served at Katsutake, in various forms in one meal. For lunch, we recommend Sosaku Gomizosui (2,100 JPY), an original lunch set featuring a simmered rice porridge with yuba tofu and crab.

Katsutake is open from 12PM to 5PM and is closed every third Monday of the month.

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