We bike North East of the Heian Shrine through some back streets. So happy that Counter Guy from Gion Hanna suggested the bikes, this is a super fun way to get around Kyoto.
We come up to the Philosopher’s Walk and it is a gorgeous pathway lined with Cherry trees along a canal. It’s called the Philosophers Path because a prominent Japanese philosopher, Nishida Kitaro, used to walk it as a daily meditation. I can see why, in the spring time when the cherry blossoms are in bloom this must be crazy beautiful. With the fallen leaves and the trickling canal it makes for a soothing place for a relaxing walk, or bike.
There are a number of folks strolling the path today. A bunch of unique and boutique-y shops line the west side with all sorts of cultural collectibles.
Alrighty, let’s speed things up and get to the next Zen Temple
We come upon a cross street with a bunch of people walking up the hill towards us. This must be the place. Look uphill, yep, I’d say we’re there. Lock up the bikes and head up. Let’s see what we’re getting into here. Oh yeah, this looks badass
We round the corner of the main gate and find a line of people waiting to get into the place. Like, a lot of people. Doesn’t take long though. Nab some tickets and round the gate into the place and I can see why there are so many folks here. It’s instantly striking.
The architecture is from the Muromachi period (1336 – 1573) and outside the buildings is this brilliant sand garden. The combo makes for a remarkable landscape.
A temple sits just inside the entrance by a pond, stone bridge and walkway
There is also a mound of sand carefully shaped into the form of Mount Fuji. Much classier than the Hello Kitty version we found in Fujikawaguchiko
There is a hilarious number of people in here and we are moving at a snails pace. I can’t say baby step tourism is for me really. Patiently waiting for the selfie-takers and group shots before lining one up of our own. It’s hard to take a shot without people in it.
Maybe it’s time to Bird Up!! Ahhhhhhhck!!
The sand garden is really cool, I can’t get enough of it.
The path scoots us around the sand garden and buildings to the back side of a pond. There are stone bridges and walkways that snake in and out offering a good look back to the buildings and temple. There are also some little wishing ponds filled with the coins of fulfilled promises and trickling waterfalls throughout. Despite the surplus of peeps it’s a lovely experience.
Ahhh Queenie went fierce face and I missed it (again)!
We follow the path through the gardens and up through the woods to another path along the hill above the complex. Oh man, the view up here is deadly. I’d better bird up before I get a pic. The people behind us have no idea what’s going on. Neither do we really, but Queenie is laughing at all the bird up variations so we’ll just keep that going.
Looking through the colored leaves back down on Gingaku-ji with the city behind is majestic. Kyoto, you’re killing me
And then down the hill and around the other side behind the temple by the gates.
Amazing place, Gingaku-ji. Well worth the yen and baby steps.
We unlock the bikes and head back to the Philosopher’s Walk. The dark clouds we saw from the hilltop are slightly foreboding so we decide to plot a course back to Gion Hanna and finally get checked into the place.
The downhill ride across town through all the little side roads is exhilarating. I hadn’t realized we’d even climbed any elevation on the way up here, but now we’re cruising through the residential streets of Kyoto at a quick clip back to the city core.
Incredible day so far. Everything I’d heard about Kyoto seems to be true. A culture packed zen mecca with more to see than you can even fill in a week.
We race through winding side streets back to Gion Hanna by the central river. Time to get checked in and definitely time for a beer.