Beginning of main content

Philosopher's Walk

This is a great walk to orient yourself around Kyōto. Stroll along a cherry tree-lined canal and visit shrines, temples, gardens and boutiques.

The Philosopher’s Walk in Kyōto gets its name from one of Japan’s most famous philosophy professors, Nishida Kitarō (1870-1945), who is said to have taken this walk as his daily meditation. The trail runs alongside a canal. It begins at the Temple of the Silver Pavilion, goes past Eikando Temple and several shrines and ends at Nanzenji Temple. The walk is particularly scenic in April, when the area comes alive with the profusion of blossoms on the hundreds of cherry trees.

The walk itself is only about 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) and takes roughly half an hour. It’s best to give yourself at least a few hours, however, so you can explore the sights along the way. The area is also full of restaurants where you can try katsu curry, in which the main meat ingredient is breadcrumbed, engage in a tea ceremony, and have kaiseki, a traditional multicourse dinner.

The canal, built during the Meiji Period (1868-1912), is crossed by picturesque bridges and surrounded by greenery. It begins a little way from the Temple of the Silver Pavilion, where you’ll find a moss garden, an unusual dry sand garden and temple buildings containing statues of the goddess of mercy. From here you will pass Honen-in Temple, Anrakuji Temple, and two shrines with beautiful gardens.

The path will also take you close to Eikando Temple, which is arranged at the base of a hill. Its buildings are connected by wooden walkways. In the fall, the temple is open later in the evenings and lit up so that the brilliant reds of the leaves in the gardens glow.

Nanzenji is the last temple on the Philosopher’s Walk. Entry to Nanzenji’s main temple grounds is free, but there is a fee to see inside some of the buildings. Make sure you climb to the top of the Sanmon gate for views over the city, and visit the head priest’s residence to see the Zen rock garden, and tiger paintings in gold leaf on the sliding doors.

The Philosopher’s Walk is in the Higashiyama district. Buses run from Eikando Temple back into central Kyōto.


Guide to Exploring around Philosopher's Walk


Trip Type
Flight 1
Flight 2
Flight 3
Flight 4
Flight 5
Map

Lodging Near Philosopher's Walk

See all 1,204 Hotels near Philosopher's Walk
$70
Guest House Aoi Nakamoto

Guest House Aoi Nakamoto

26 Shishigatani Hounenin Nishimachi, Kyoto
3.0
of 5, from 1 reviews
3.0 out of 5.0

Located in Ohara, Kibune, Kurama, this guesthouse is within 1 mi (2 km) of Philosopher's Walk and Heian Shrine. Kyoto Imperial Palace and Kiyomizu Temple are also within 3 mi (5 km).

$276
Villa Honen-in Nishi

Villa Honen-in Nishi

20 Shishigatani Honenin Nishimachi, Kyoto
3.5 out of 5.0

Located in Ohara, Kibune, Kurama, this apartment is within 1 mi (2 km) of Philosopher's Walk and Heian Shrine. Kyoto Imperial Palace and Kiyomizu Temple are also within 3 mi (5 km).

$50
Hotel Heian No Mori Kyoto

Hotel Heian No Mori Kyoto

51, Okazaki, Higashi Tenno-cho,, Kyoto
3.7
of 5, from 103 reviews
3.0 out of 5.0

Located in Higashiyama, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Okazaki Shrine and Okazaki Betsuin. Sen-oku Hakuko Kan and Kyoto Municipal Zoo are also within 10 minutes.

$30
Hostel Ginkakuji

Hostel Ginkakuji

Jodoji 58-2, Nishida-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
1.5 out of 5.0

Located in Ohara, Kibune, Kurama, this hostel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Philosopher's Walk and Heian Shrine. Kyoto Imperial Palace and Kiyomizu Temple are also within 3 mi (5 km).

$364
Ryokan Yoshida-sanso

Ryokan Yoshida-sanso

59-1 Yoshida Shimo-ooji-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
4.7
of 5, from 27 reviews
5.0 out of 5.0

Located in Ohara, Kibune, Kurama, this luxury ryokan is within a 15-minute walk of Kyoto University and Heian Shrine. Kyoto Imperial Palace and Kiyomizu Temple are also within 3 mi (5 km).

$390
Villa Kyoto Kan-Un-An

Villa Kyoto Kan-Un-An

10 Nanzenji, Kitanobo-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
5.0
of 5, from 2 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Located in Ohara, Kibune, Kurama, this vacation home is within 1 mi (2 km) of Eikando Temple and Heian Shrine. Kyoto Imperial Palace and Kiyomizu Temple are also within 3 mi (5 km).

$141
The Westin Miyako Kyoto

The Westin Miyako Kyoto

Keage, Sanjo, Higashiyama, Kyoto
4.3
of 5, from 989 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

The Westin Miyako is just minutes from downtown Kyoto and the city's historical preservation districts, with more than 2000 shrines and temples and an abundance of beautiful, natural scenery.

$46
Hotel Gran Ms Kyoto

Hotel Gran Ms Kyoto

410-3 Shimomaruya-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
4.2
of 5, from 1,374 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Located in Central Kyoto, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Honnoji Temple, Nijo Castle, and Gion Corner. Kyoto Imperial Palace and Kiyomizu Temple are also within 2 mi (3 km).