Walking Tour: A Philosophical Meander

  • Start Keage Station
  • End Ginkaku-ji-Michi bus stop
  • Length About 6km; four hours

Start at Keage Station on the Tōzai subway line, walk downhill, cross the pedestrian overpass, head back uphill and go through the tunnel under the old funicular tracks. This leads to a narrow street that winds towards Konchi-in.

Just past Konchi-in, take a right on the main road and walk up through the gate into Nanzen-ji. Continue east, up the slope and you’ll soon see the brick Sōsui aqueduct on your right; cross under this, take a quick left and walk up the hill towards the mountains. You’ll come first to the lovely Kōtoku-an subtemple. Beyond this, the trail enters the woods. Follow it up to the secluded Nanzen-ji Oku-no-in, a tiny shrine built around a waterfall.

Return the way you came and exit the north side of Nanzen-ji, following the road through a gate. You’ll soon come to Eikan-dō, a large temple famous for its artworks and pagoda. At the corner just beyond Eikan-dō, a sign in English and Japanese points up the hill to the Path of Philosophy. If you’re hungry, take a short detour north to Hinode Udon, a fine noodle restaurant. Otherwise, head up the hill to the Path of Philosophy (Tetsugaku-no-michi), which is the pedestrian path that heads north along the canal.

It's then a straight shot up the lovely tree-lined canal for about 800m until you reach a small sign in English and Japanese pointing up the hill to Hōnen-in. Follow the sign, take a left at the top of the hill, walk past a small park and you’ll see the picturesque thatched gate of Hōnen-in. After checking out the temple (free), exit via the thatched gate and take a quick right downhill.

From here, follow the narrow side streets north to Ginkaku-ji, the famed Silver Pavilion.