Philosopher's Path Tour: Nature and Buddhism in Kyoto

Immerse yourself in Kyoto’s natural beauty and hidden temples with an expert guide
From US$264 privately
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Tour Details
3 hours
Product Type
  • Honen-in
  • Eikan-do
  • Philosopher's Path
  • Silver Pavillion
Photos & Highlights
  • Discover the importance of nature in Japanese culture as you uncover the principles of Pure Land Buddhism
  • Led by a local historian
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Tour Description
The centrality of nature has long been part of Japanese culture. Japanese traditional customs and Buddhist aesthetics suggest that there is no fundamental difference between nature and humankind; in fact, nature is what represents the core background of human existence. During this three-hour tour, you will join a local historian for a nature-inspired stroll along Philosopher’s Path, following the course of the canal while visiting some of Kyoto’s most important temples and exploring the Japanese’ philosophical commitment to nature. 

Philosopher’s Path Tour

Philosopher’s Path is a beautiful canal walkway located in northern Higashiyama. The path was named after Nishida Kitaro, a famous philosophy professor at Kyoto University who is said to have practiced meditation while walking this route on his daily commute. Thanks to the hundreds of cherry trees lining the canal, the Philosopher’s Path remains awash in color for much of the year, whether it’s spring's explosion of cherry blossom or fall's fiery red foliage. Your tour will take a scenic stroll through Philosopher’s Path and enjoy a quiet retreat surrounded by mountains and traditional houses away from the city. 

Pure Land Buddhism and Nature

Your first stop will be the Silver Pavillion, where you'll learn about the temple's history as a center of culture in the fifteenth century. Along the Path, we will make a stop at Honen-in Temple and learn about the principles of Pure Land Buddhism (Jodo-shu), observing the harmony between nature and the temple buildings. We will discuss the temple’s Zenki-sui water spring, which represents the Japanese adoration of water as part of the aesthetic element. We will then continue our walk to Eikan-do, another Pure Land Buddhism temple built on a hillside. We'll take a deep dive into the historical background of the temple, admiring the unusual Amitabha Buddha, with its head turned leftwards, the serene Hojo Pond, and the view from the Tagoto Pagoda.

Take Aways 

At the end of our time together, we will have set our mind at peace away from the city’s hustle and bustle and emerge with a better understanding of the concept of nature, as well as the ideological underpinnings of Buddhism and how they play a role in Japanese culture. 

Another excellent walk to pair with this one is our Kyoto Geisha Tour.


Is it okay to tip my guide in Japan?
Yes. Context clients generally tip anywhere from 10-25% of the purchase price of a personal service such as this, depending on the quality of the experience and their tipping habits.
Where You'll Start
(4.91) 52 Reviews

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Great tour with a well informed guide!
Was a very informative tour!
It was a phenomenal tour. Marcin was generous with sharing his knowledge, ideas, and answering questions on a wide range of topics. His company afforded us a special visit to a textile store where we visited with the owners, who invited us to enjoy tea and sweet treats. It was the perfect and inspiring way to start our vacation. Thank you Marcin for bringing Kyoto to life for us.