Nonetheless, the abundance of green areas in this city may make it difficult to decide where to start enjoying such a marvelous event. Therefore, here is our recommended 1 day walk from our traditional machiya house “Sakura House Kyoto”, particularly for first time visitors during this time of year.
Walking through Kyoto in Autumn
As it is always recommended to walk through Kyoto in Autumn, start your day as early as possible, not only to make good use of your day but to also avoid potential large crowds during your morning tour. Board either bus 102 or 203 at “Imadegawa Omiya” bus stop, just a few meters behind “Sakura House Kyoto” and alight at “Ginkakuji-michi”.
From there make your way through Imadegawa-Dori street all the way straight to the main entrance of Ginkaku-ji temple (also known as the Silver Pavilion) while enjoying the trees by the street’s river. From the moment of stepping through the maze like entrance of this over 500 year old zen temple, the beauty and dedication to detail in the maintenance and enhancement of natures beauty is easily noticed. In addition to its beautiful gardens, six other temples are also onsite, an unmissable moss garden and the traditional dry sand zen garden.
Experiencing Ginkaku-ji temple in Autumn
After enjoying the calmness of Ginkaku-ji temple, it is time to continue submerging into the colorful beauty of the “red leaves” season by taking a stroll through the “Philosophers Path” (or “Tetsugaku no michi” in Japanese). This road offers a unique atmosphere with trees by a narrow river all along the way by the feet of Kyoto’s east mountains.
Some interesting shops, cafes and temples are on the way to enhance your experience while in the area. A special mention must be made for Honen-in Temple, accessible by crossing the river over one of it’s lovely bridges shortly after beginning the walk on the Philosopher’s Path. This temple is free to access but offers a special opportunity to see its main hall during the first days of November, when the leaves start turning red (a special fee applies for entering the hall).
At the end of the path, continuing by the mountain side, one of the most eye catching autumn sceneries can be seen at Zenrin-ji (Eikando) Temple. This temple is particularly popular during the autumn season due to its great amount of maple trees and for having an attractive city view from its pagoda. The temple can also be visited at night time during this season, when the temple grounds are illuminated. An entrance fee is required for visiting the temple either during the day or night time.
Nazen-ji Temple Colored Red
Continuing south the road shall lead to Nanzen-ji Temple, one of the most important zen temples in all of Japan. The large grounds at the temple’s entrance show just a slice of the greatness of this building. For an entrance fee, visitors can climb up the main entrance gate and see the gardens from above, or enter directly to the temple grounds and continue diving into the history of this particular spot of Kyoto.
Upon exiting the temple, souvenir shops and restaurants can be seen around the area offering the chance to get a snack or stop for lunch. Also, this might be a good place to catch a taxi if one is tired after all the walk thus far.
The next destination spot is Heian-jingu Shrine and its great “Torii” gate. It is a short ride by taxi, but if possible, it is recommended to walk there since the beauty of this season can continue to be enjoyed by going through the Kaege Incline.
The Kaede Incline is an old railroad track used for transportation of boats and materials to and from the Lake Biwa Canal. It is now a National Historical Site and offers a great environment to take some unique pictures and enjoy the a portion of the history of the city.
Walking along Niomon Dori street past the Kyoto City Zoo (recommended stop for kids) and right between the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art and the National Museum of Modern Art is the “Otorii” (large Shinto shrine archway) signaling the entrance to the Heian-jingu Shrine.
This shrine is an actual scale representation of the original Heian Palace used by the emperor. It is the destination of one of the city’s biggest parade events, the Jidai Matsuri, and for a entrance fee the beautiful garden and its traditional buildings can be seen. It is a spot that can not go unvisited when in the city that once was the capital of Japan.
Walking out of the Heian-jingu Shrine and straight down the road through the “Otorii”, the next destination shall be Maruyama Park in the traditional neighborhood of Gion. This park is just behind the large Yasaka-jinja Shrine and has great popularity during the cherry blossom season in spring and during the “read leaves” season in autumn. This again is a perfect place to take a rest just before going through Yasaka-jinja Shrine and hitting the streets of Gion for some shopping and/or getting something to eat.
Yasaka-jinja Shrine is one of the most famous shrines visited in Kyoto, and being so, it is also the host of possibly Kyoto’s biggest event, and one expected by the whole country during the summer, the Gion Matsuri.
This shrine not only offers a nice ambiance, but also has an excellent view of Shijo Dori street and its abundant shops through its main gate, since the street ends here. Again, this is another perfect location for some pictures, particularly during the sunset.
From here one can choose to walk around the streets of Gion, with all the historical marvels they have to offer, cross the Kamo River to the Kawaramachi area for even more shops and restaurants, or head back to Sakura House Kyoto Imadegawa for a well deserved rest.
This is just a basic idea of one of the many tours our onsite concierge staff recommends to our guests staying at our traditional “machiya” house. Modifications to these plans are always good to accommodate the flow of the day to each individuals needs and interests. For this, and to not miss out on anything this city has to offer, our staff is always eager to help planning your days when in our historical piece of Kyoto, Sakura House Kyoto Imadegawa.