Japan is an impressive mix of ancient and new, and this is especially evident in Kyoto. Narrow alleys with traditional homes and teahouses run alongside wide, modern, car-filled roads. Temples are an island of green surrounded by tall buildings and shopping centers. While Kyoto largely escaped bombing during the Second World War, thus preserving many of its ancient buildings, it did not escape the influence of the Western world, which had started even before the war.
The stark contrasts can provide a lot of food for thought–about progress, the melding and change of culture and tradition, and about the human striving to continue moving forward.
Perhaps some of these thoughts were also entertained by Nishida Kitaro, a well-known Japanese philosopher. He is said to have meditated while walking along a canal between Ginkakuji (the Silver Pavilion) and Nazenji. Thus, the pedestrian walkway became known as the Path of Philosophy or the Philosopher’s Walk.
This canal, about 2 kilometers (just over a mile) long, is lined on both sides with hundreds of cherry blossom trees. Even though we didn’t have time for the detours along the path, walking it was an experience I couldn’t miss!
We were rewarded by beautiful sakura blooming all around us. Even though we happened to visit on a gloomy day, the half hour walk was a pleasant experience. Everyone was stopping to take photos. I can’t imagine how lovely it would be on a sunny day. I also expected it to be more crowded, but that wasn’t the case at all. Maybe the drizzles helped, or maybe this spot is still a low-key enough place compared to the many wonders of Kyoto.