Autumn in Kyoto – Nanzenji and Philosopher’s Path

Day Two Afternoon in Kyoto – November 2016

After our visit to Kiyomizu Temple, we made our way to Nanzenji.  Along the way, we stopped at the 7 Eleven store for sushi and onigiri for lunch, ate like the locals.

Nanzenji (南禅寺)

We depended on the trusty Google Map to bring us to Nanzenji though at times it was not that reliable as it brought us via a longer route and we got to see more of the city.

Nanzenji Temple is one of the most important Zen temples in Japan. It is the head temple of one of the schools within the Rinzai sect of Japanese Zen Buddhism and includes multiple sub-temples. The history of Nanzenji dates back to the mid 13th century, when the Emperor Kameyama built a palace here. Emperor Kameyama believed deeply in Zen Buddhism and converted the palace into a temple in 1291.

Nanzenji’s central temple grounds are open to the public free of charge. We were welcomed by the massive Sanmon entrance gate where we could climb up to the gate’s balcony at a fee to get a view of the city which we decided to give that a miss.


We continued to walk and saw a large brick aqueduct that passes through the temple grounds.The aqueduct is part of a canal system that was constructed to carry water and goods.


Nanzen-in is one of Nanzenji’s subtemples that is open to visitors. It is located just behind the aqueduct, the remains of the old palace garden. It is a typical landscape garden with large ponds and paths for strolling, serenely surrounded by trees and has been designated as one of the three scenic historical gardens in Kyoto. In a small mausoleum at a corner of the garden is where a portion of Emperor Kameyama’s ashes been buried.


We were glad we visited Nanzen-in. The garden is beautiful and serene, a place to sit down and enjoy with a calm spirit. Most leaves have yet to change colour, I am sure the garden would look amazing after the foliage turn red and yellow.

Parting shot

The next stop is to the Philosopher’s Path 哲学の道.  The stone path follows a canal with residential units, restaurants and cafes lining by the side. Nishida Kitaro, a prominent Japanese philosopher (1870-1945), was said to practice meditation while walking this path on his daily commute to Kyoto University, that’s how the name, Philosopher’s Path, came about. This path will look amazing during Spring time (April) when the cherry trees lining along the side of the path becomes full bloom.


After our walk along Philosopher’s Path, it was too late for us to visit Nijio Castle as the last admission time is 4pm and it closes at 5pm. We headed to Sanjo area and had Sukiyaki for dinner.

5 Sukiyaki for Dinner.JPG

Stay tune for more on My Kansai Region Travel Series!

The Lowdown – Nanzenji

Getting there: Nanzenji is a 5-10 minute walk from the nearest subway station, Keage Station on the Tozai Line and a short walk from the southern end of the Nanzenji, you will reach the Philosopher’s Path.

Opening Hours: 8:40 to 17:00 (until 16:30 from December to February) and admission ends 20 minutes before closing time.

Admission: Central temple ground is open to public for free. Fees payable for the sub-temples.

For more information, go at

Thank you for stopping by


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11 thoughts on “Autumn in Kyoto – Nanzenji and Philosopher’s Path

  1. few questions as I am going to jpn this march hoping to catch some cherry blossoms.
    1) Did you purchase the jrailpass? or the kansai pass would suffice?
    2) what camera did you use? lovely pictures you took.
    3) Any recommended places to stay there? Im looking more towards airbnb and I have a 1 yr old kid with me and my wife.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Our trip was only planned < 3 weeks before we travel, therefore too late to purchase the JR Pass.
      1) It is worth purchasing the JR Pass if you are planning to go to different parts of Japan. If your plan is to stay in Kyoto alone, then not worth buying. Though I would highly recommend to spend at least a night at Osaka, either at the beginning or last part of your stay as it is nearer to the Kansai Airport and lots to eat and see at Osaka.
      2) Thank you 🙂 Most of the pictures were taken by me using Leica C and iPhone 6. The Bamboo Grove pictures taken at Arashiyama were taken by my friend using Panasonic GX8 with fish eye lens.
      3) Sorry, could not help on where to stay. I have not stay in any airbnb. But I would recommend to stay near the Kyoto Station for ease of commuting especially so as you are bringing your one year old kid with you. Do download a copy of the train maps that you may plan your travel.
      Safe travels and happy holiday!


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