Kyoto's Best City walks (ji=temple/shrine):
There are several terrific hikes in the city of Kyoto; maps are available at tourist offices.
(Time indicated below is for the walk only, not for visiting varied temples en route, many of which may be irresistible)
- Kiyomizu-dera Walk (1 hour):
This route is the best for time-short tourists, embracing some of the premier sights and atmospheric little paths, down stone steps fringed with traditional houses, shops and restaurants.
Kiyomizu-dera - Sannenzaka/ Ninenzaka/Ishibe-koji (off route)- Kodai-ji - Maruyama Park - Chion-in Temple - Shoren-in Temple - Heian Jingu Shrine. Don't miss 'Gion' (the Geisha district), west of this trail, after the Kiyomiz-dera walk.
Traditional geisha transport, a jin-rickshaw in the new cable-clad old streets near Kiyomizu-dera.
(And no, those are probably Japanese tourists, not geisha!)
Nanzen Temple Walk (30 minutes):
This pleasant walk starts at Ginkaku-ji Temple, wanders along the two kilometre Tetsugaku-no-Michi (Path of Philosophy) beside a canal lined with cherry trees (glorious in April), down to Eikando Temple then on to Nanzen Temple with its dramatic zen gardens.
The Path of Bamboo, Arashimaya.
Arashiyama/Sagano Walks (2 hours+):
This longer hike starts at Arashiyama Station, passes via the Tenryuji Temple (World Cultural Heritage Site and home to yet another famous zen garden), along the Path of Bamboo (above picture) and continues on to Rakushi-sha and Jojakko-ji, secluded Gio-ji, then on to Adashino Nembutsu-ji if your feet don't fail you, before ending at Daikaku-ji. Do not miss scenic Togetsu-kyo Bridge either before or after the walk.
Ohara Walk (1 hour+):
Visit the Sanzen-in Temple and Jakko-in Temple in rural Kyoto, 10 km from the city. Then hike up into the mountains from Jakko-in to reach Kurama village via Shizuhara. After the walk, you can soak in Japan's pastoral beauty in the hot springs (onsen) in Kirama. Avoid spring hanami or autumn maple leaf weekends as tranquility will be replaced by chaos at that time.
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