One last day in Kyoto, and it was time for some lesser known beautiful places in Kyoto. The Ginkaku ji and the Nanzen ji are two beautiful examples of pavilions converted into Zen temples. Also, hidding behind the Nanzen ji we found an impressive Meiji period aqueduct. Something I never expected to find in Kyoto.
We started with the Silver Pavilion, perhaps less known by foreign tourists. This pavilion, also planned as a retirement villa for one of the Japanese shoguns was modelled after Kinkaku ji and later became a Zen temple.
Ginkakuji with the dry garden
When you enter, the first thing you see is the traditional dry Zen garden, then you follow a path around the temple’s grounds that take you up hill where you can have a beautiful view over the temple.
View over the Ginkakuji from the hill
Along this path you will also be able to appreciate many small details of traditional Japanese gardens. It’s a lovely sight, specially seen as soon as it opens as you will have the space all to yourself.
Garden details in the Ginkaku ji
Exiting the Ginkaku ji, we followed the philosopher’s path towards the Nanzenji temple. This stone path along a small canal, in Higashiyama, must be an unbelievable sight during Spring, when the cherry trees on the sides become in full bloom.
Philosopher’s path with non blooming cherry trees on the sides.
We walked towards Nanzenji temple, one of the most important Zen temples in Japan, also converted from an old retirement villa. Once you go in you pass through a massive Sanmon entrance gate with a view over the surrounding trees. Built in 1615 is a tribute to soldiers who died during a siege battle of Osaka Castle.
Great gates of Nanzenji
An unbelievable sight was something we found just around the temple, something I never thought I would see in Japan. The Suirokaku Aqueduct, built during the Meiji period at a time when Kyoto, as well as the rest of Japan, was being modernized and modeled after European constructions.
It might not feel as fitting in a traditional Kyoto, but I believe the Meiji period is also a very important time of Japanese history.
Part of the Suirokaku aqueduct
From there we continued to visit Gion, an area that is very well known and visited. With a strong entertainment background. At that time still, we did not spot any Gueixa or Maiko but you might be lucky.
We visited Ginkaku ji quite early in the morning, so it was pretty empty. I feel that both Ginkaku and Nanzenji are areaas not so visited by tourists, while Gion can be extremely crowded.
Ginkaku ji is located in Higashiyama area, moderately far away from the center and so to get there, it’s better to take a bus. Consider the one day bus ticket for this temple. Entrance costs 500 yen, around 5 dollars.
From there you can follow the Philosopher’s path south for 30 minute and reach the Nanzenji temple. Walking the area is free but entrance in the main temple will also cost 5 dollars.
From here to Gion and Kyomizu dera is another 50 minute walk. I recommend this if you are not in a hurry to see the least visited paths of Kyoto while you prepare for GIon.
I was in Gion last year and in my opinion I feel that unfortunately this area has lost a lot due to mass tourism.
What would I do differently
I wish I had had the mental and physical preparation, as well as time, to hike Daimonji yama. The mountain nearby to the right of Higashiyama district, which is known by the Gozan Okuribi festival when a huge kanji is lit up with fires.
It is said that the walk up should take around 50 minutes and that the view is well worth the climb. Make sure you try it!
With this post i finish relating my first and longest trip to Japan, which I started one year and a half ago. I’ve relived these 7 months of 2013/2014 which to me were the sweet dream of a lifetime with great emotion and I appreciate every single like I’ve been getting on my posts.
Next week I will take a break from blogging travels, I feel its important to make an overview of these 7 months and to register what is also part of my life, hurt and longing. I will try hard and review the text as many time as necessary in order to not make it an overly dramatic rant.
Thank you all for reading. Hope you are doing well and keeping up with your everyday tasks.
Have a nice week.