The Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto


I was going to try and do these Japan posts in the correct chronological order, but then I realized that there is no “time” on the internet, so I can pretty much post at will.  Hence, here is a bit of philosophizing about the Philosopher’s Path, a lovely little walk in Kyoto.

In Kanji, it is 哲学の道, which is pronounced as Tetsugaku no Michi. The path became famous because 20th-century philosopher Nishida Kitaro used it for “daily meditation”.  The path follows a small canal between two temples, Ginkaku-ji and Nanzen-ji. I think you’re supposed to start at the southern end and walk north, but we did it backward. I don’t think anyone minded.

Apparently this walk is one of the primary tourist attractions in Kyoto, and I hate to think of how crowded and annoying it would be in July or August. As it was early December when we strolled along, it was pleasantly empty, except for a few locals walking their dogs. There was one poor man with a very elderly Corgi, and the dog had lost the use of his hind legs. So the man rigged up a skateboard/scooter type thing, and was talking his dog for a roll!

The path meanders a bit, and there were quite a few sections that were blocked off with tape. Luckily there is a road right next to the path, so you could continue on the route even if you weren’t right next to the canal. The water was pretty stale, and I wonder how frequently the canal gets cleaned out with fresh water. We missed the fall foliage by a matter of days, as you can see that most of the leaves are on the path rather than on the trees!

There were a few bright red bushes that still looked lovely against the green foliage, and if you look closely you can see a few pink roses. The color combinations were quite striking.

I like these trees, where the branches and leaves are all on a single plane. They seem to float. There were quite a few shops along the beginning of the path, but toward the end (which I supposed was technically the beginning, since we walked in the wrong way) it was almost entirely residential.

I don’t have any pictures of the end of the walk, because it had gotten dark by then. BUT… be warned. There are LOTS of really cute kitties that love on the Philosopher’s Path. And they’re obviously well-fed, and friendly with humans, so while they may technically be feral, you’ll need a heart of stone to walk past them and not want to smuggle them home in your luggage!

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Posted on 19/12/2011, in travel, Travel to Asia and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Yup – – I think I could philosophize along a canal like that with cute kitties guiding my thoughts . . .

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