Monday, October 18, 2010

Kyoto See: The Path Of Philosophy - A Poetic Walking Trail

Actually this should be "Kyoto Do" instead of "Kyoto See" but I don't want to create another label. The title is also not completely wrong either since there are a lot of things to see along the 2 (Yes, TWO!!) kilometre walking trail. Ok, I don't know why I am nitpicking with myself. Out of sheer boredom I guess. When you start squabbling with yourself on the blog, it may be time to call the mental institution, or go for another Japanese holiday. Yes I need to go for another holiday to JAPAN!

The Start of the Path of Philosophy

Take a Kyoto city bus from wherever you are to the Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion) or Nanzenji Temple and start walking down the narrow stone path from either end.

The Path of Philosophy, or "Philosopher's Path" is a very pleasant walking trail alongside a scenic canal (or what we Singaporeans would call a "Lonkang" - big drain) with lots of flourishing fauna and flora. Apparently, there are hundreds of cherry trees lining the trail and during cherry blossom season in April, the place will be even more gorgeous with an explosion of pink. It was a pity then we visited during autumn; nevertheless there were sufficient maple trees in the surrounds and other colourful plants to provide a visual feast for our eyes during our morning stroll.

The Fat Geisha becomes philosophical (or tries to...)

Since there are so many sights and attractions in Kyoto jostling for one's attention, it is quite easy to overlook the Path of Philosophy unless you are intending to visit second tier attractions like Ginkakuji and Nanzenji Temple. Since I am the "kiasu" kind of person and wanted to do and see as many things as possible even if it killed me (us), upon the strong recommendation of my sister-in-law, I dragged the Samurai on our last day in Kyoto to walk down the fabled path.

We started off at a leisurely pace from the Ginkakuji end in the north (no choice but to walk leisurely since our legs were killing us). Fortunately for us, Ginkakuji was undergoing some restoration works so we did not visit the site. I wasn't that keen to visit in the first place, because unlike Kinkakuji (The Golden Pavilion) which is truly covered in gold, the silver counterpart is NOT covered in silver. It was so named because the original builders had the INTENTION to make it silver, or something to that effect.

The walk was indeed serene and beautiful. The soft gurgle of water from the canal beside us, the cool autumn breeze, the flourishing fauna, the chirping birds lulled us into a deep sense of contentment. Along the way, there were also many interesting restaurants, tea houses, and private homes to attract our interest. There was even a street artist with his cat from whom we bought a sketch of the canal for 1,000 yen. It was a great way to recharge without expending too much energy.

How picturesque - like a painting

The cute garden of a private home along the path

The sun hitting the water amidst the maple leaves - one of my fave pics of the trip

The street artist and his loyal cat

The entire stroll took us about 1 hour. It would have been longer if we had stopped at any one of the quaint tea houses along the route, which we did not have the time for. We did enter into the Nanzenji grounds at the southern end of the route, which was a fairly prominent Zen temple with very beautiful grounds and an imposing brick aqueduct on its premises.

My verdict? If you have at least 4 days in Kyoto, do make time to walk down the Path of Philosophy (preferably in the morning). You may not turn philosophical, but you will certainly be refreshed. What you encounter during your stroll may also surprise you.


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FatGeisha said...

Thank you sir. I hope to improve my Japanese language skills so that I can read your blog too!