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
1. Ginkakuji Temple (+ tea room)
2. Eikando Temple
3. Nanzenji Temple
More temples and shrines
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!
How much time do you need at these 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 go?
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!
Use this Kyoto tourist map to plan out your 5 days in Kyoto with the Philosopher’s Path!
- Day 1: Top tourist spots with one day bus pass
- Day 2: Fushimi Inari Shrine hike
- Day 3: Philosopher’s Path
- Day 4: Arashiyama and Sagano
- Day 5: Kurama Kibune Ohara with one day pass
More quick tips for planning your trip to JapanThere are affiliate links on this page that take you to partner websites.
The super fast train in JapanIn general, 2 long-distance shinkansen train trips will likely end up making it so the JR pass will be worth it. But here's how to calculate it to be sure.
See the current price of a JR pass from an official vendor.
NEW way of buying individual shinkansen train tickets online!I will start by saying I have NOT bought train tickets online this way (yet!) to verify this! (But it's on my list for my next trip to Japan!)
There's an online train ticket booking method that's popular for other parts of Asia, and they are just now branching out to Japan.
You can now buy train tickets online here for popular shinkansen train routes. (And some bus routes too.)
I've used this booking site for taking the train from Thailand to Malaysia, and it worked out well, so I would expect it to work out well in Japan too!
The thing is, though, that you need to pick up the physical train tickets in person.
So it won't be enough to just buy the tickets online. I had to do this in Bangkok for my train ticket - and it was easy! So again, I would think it'd be easy for Japan train tickets too.
Search for popular routes in Japan here. For example, Tokyo to Kyoto.
If you end up buying train tickets online this way, I would love to hear how it goes! Whether that's good, or if it came with some challenges!
Natural disasters in JapanUnfortunately, Japan can be prone to natural disasters which means risk for travel delays. So be sure to look at travel insurance for natural disasters.
My travel insurance took care of my accommodation and food costs when I was forced to stay extra days in Japan because of a typhoon.
See how much insurance costs for your trip.
Best travel guides for JapanIf you're at step 1 in your planning process, have a look at this Discover Japan book.
For "books" that won't take up space in your suitcase, see the best PDF guides.
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