This path is a famous walk in Kyoto and can be perfect if you’re looking for a nice relaxing day.
Well, a nice relaxing day that includes a lot of walking!
In Japanese, this is called the tetsugaku no michi, aka the path of philosophy.
There are some temples and shrines nearby that you can make some stops at where you’ll be surrounded by nature.
If you walk point-to-point from one end of the Philosopher’s Path to the other, it might take around 30 minutes or so.
But it might take you a lot longer if you make stops along the way, and also if you visit the temple grounds that are at both ends of the path.
In short, you can walk the philosopher’s path from near Ginkakuji Temple to near Nanzenji Temple, and make some more temple visits and shrine visits along the way!
Top places to visit near the Philosopher’s Path
2. Eikando Temple
3. Nanzenji Temple
More temples and shrines
The ultimate Japan experience #1: You can read the reviews for watching sumo training!
The ultimate Japan experience #2: You can read the reviews for the samurai lesson at a dojo!
The ultimate Japan experience #3: You can read the reviews for the tea ceremony!
There are affiliate links on this page.
Traveling around Japan and can't read Japanese? No problem! Just use the camera on the google translate app!
There are also a few smaller places to visit along the path that you can stop by too, but Ginkakuji, Eikando, and Nanzenji are the main ones!
For the smaller temples and shrines, you’ll find them by simply following the signs that are along the path!
More below on walking temple to temple on the Philosopher’s Path!
More info/pictures below, but... SIDE NOTE!
Where to go from Kyoto?! You can go to to Nachi Falls to see one of Japan's most famous views! You can make it a part of your Kumano Kodo itinerary to go to several UNESCO world heritage sites, also making a stop at the small Yunomine Onsen hot springs town!
Here are more ideas for your Japan trip planning!
- Best places to visit for your first time in Japan (including famous views!)
- Where to go to see cherry blossoms in Kyoto
- Where to go to see fall colors in Kyoto
- Where to go for winter in Japan
- Where to go to experience tropical Japan
- Where to go for epic snow-capped Mt Fuji views
How much time do you need at the Philosopher’s Path temples?
The time you spend at each of the temples can really vary depend on how slowly you want to take things.
You could be quick with it by doing a simple walk through the temple grounds in probably 15-20 minutes, or you could also spend a lot longer at each of these temples by taking in your surroundings at a slower pace.
As for how much time of your day to dedicate to the path of philosophy, if you have 5 days in Kyoto, you could make this the only activity of your day.
If you only have 2 days in Kyoto, then maybe go for the Fushimi Inari shrine hike (through 5,000 torii gates!) in the morning, and then make the philosopher’s walk your afternoon activity. In that case, see what your journey may look like for Fushimi Inari to Ginkakuji by train and bus.
Which direction to walk the Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto?
So you can walk…
From Ginkakuji to Nanzenji
From Nanzenji to Ginkaukji
I really don’t think there’s much of a difference either way.
But here are some possible things to think about to decide whether to start the philosopher’s path near Ginkakuji or to start near Nanzenji.
This hiking trail offers up grand city views at the summit.
The start of the trail is right near Ginkakuji Temple.
So maybe you want to do the hike, and then take a stroll along the philosopher’s path (or at least part of it).
On the flip side, maybe you want to end your day with some nice mountain views from the summit.
Pick up some snacks or food from the convenience store near the train station or bus station and make it a picnic with amazing views to end your day!
On a similar note, you may also consider ending up at Ginkakuji Temple so that you will be closer to the part of the river that makes for a nice picnic area.
Kamogawa River near the Demachiyanagi train station could be a nice place to end your day.
There’s a Family Mart convenience store located right nearby to buy food to take with you down to the river.
This also makes for a nice place to end your day after a day trip to Kurama, Kibune, and Ohara, as you can pass by this area as well on your way back to Kyoto station.
If you might want to see more after your walk on the philosopher’s path, the Heian Shrine is about a 20 minute walk from Nanzenji Temple.
See day 3 of this Kyoto tourist map for the visual.
More of what you might see on your walk on the path of philosophy!
Visit Ginkakuji Temple grounds
You could easily spend an hour on a visit to Ginkakuji Temple, walking around the temple grounds to see the sand garden and Japanese gardens all around.
If you’re starting your day here, also see what your journey may look like for Kyoto station to Ginkakuji.
Stop by for tea at Ginkakuji
Near the exit is a “tea room” where you can get some matcha green tea.
This little Ginkakuji tea room could be a good place to get a taste for some matcha in a nice outdoor setting. (On your walk from the bus stop to Ginkakuji you’ll also come across a matcha shop that sells all kinds of matcha products too.)
Start the walk on the Philosopher’s Path!
aka Tetsugaku no michi (“path of philosophy”)
So once you’ve finished up visiting Ginkakuji, you can head to the Philosopher’s path!
The path itself is an actual walking trail that’s right along a small river and lined with cherry blossom trees. (This path is a popular spot for cherry blossom viewing in Kyoto!)
There’s also a normal road that runs right alongside the walking path, and you’ll also find some shops along this road that you may want to stop at.
There are also little side streets that you’ll come across that may want to wander around.
You’ll also end up walking on normal roads when walking from the Philosopher’s Path to Nanzenji.
Basically, just go wherever looks good to you!
Visit Eikando Temple grounds
You can easily spend an hour here.
Visit Nanzenji Temple grounds
There’s a sprawling complex surrounding Nanzenji and you could easily spend a couple of hours here.
HAPPY WALKING THE PHILOSOPHER’S PATH!
Here are ideas for your Kyoto itinerary!
- Day 1: Top tourist spots with one day bus pass
- Day 2: Fushimi Inari Shrine hike through 1,000 torii gates
- Day 3: Philosopher's Path walk
- Day 4: Arashiyama and Sagano
- Day 5: Kurama Kibune Ohara with one day pass
And the JR pass makes it time-efficient to travel around Japan by train and is a popular option among international travelers! See how to figure out if the JR pass will be worth it for you!
🍵 Read the reviews of these highly rated tours:
Is a JR pass worth it?!
- Google maps can make it easy to figure out whether or not you should get a JR pass!
- In google maps, type in your departure and arrival city, and choose the transit icon. The route will come up, and so will the estimated cost at the bottom!
- Here is an example of a train route with cost on google maps.
- So do that for all of your long distance routes to figure out how much it might cost.
- Next, go here to see how much a JR pass costs from an official JR pass vendor (and partner of this website).
- And compare!
- Not all forms of public transportation are JR, but long distance shinkansen bullet trains are, and that's where the most cost savings will come.
Best of Kyoto (and Japan!)
👇 Explore the best places to visit in Japan!
There are affiliate links on this page.