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I must have been feeling pretty confident in both my navigational skills and endurance to suggest this day's adventure, which was to walk from our inn to the start of the Philosopher's Path, and from there to Ginkakuji, and back again. The map we had made me reasonably confident that if we went along the street in front of Heian Jingū, we could continue on until it pretty much dead-ended into the Philosopher's Path.

In actuality, it was a series of streets that didn't line up perfectly with each other, and we reached some other body of water just two blocks short of the canal of the Philosopher's Path, prompting us to turn prematurely. We realized quickly enough that we had made some error, but it took us a little wandering around to stumble across the actual path, and we had missed the first section of it. Still, we enjoyed a pleasant walk along the canal until the path reached the street leading up to Ginkakuji.

A street on the way to the Philosopher's Path.

The Philosopher's Path.

There were a lot of small temples and just interesting buildings and shops along the path.

Bears fishing in the canal.

Also being a very popular temple, Ginkakuji was pretty crowded, but it seemed to come a little more in waves, so that if we stood still for a while in one place, a group of students would pass us by and we would have a little more breathing room. I'd found it very beautiful the time I'd visited in winter, but this time I was really enchanted with it in spite of the crowd. Everything was so vibrantly green and most of it pleasantly shaded. I would have happily spent quite a bit longer there, but the press of people bothered Katie more than me and eventually we wound our way back out.

The temple grounds as you enter.

I couldn't get over how green everything was.

We decided we were hungry, but in no mood to seek out an actual restaurant after the prior day's awkwardness. The day was hot despite the shade, and we got ice cream and rice puffs on our way down the hill from Ginkakuji. We stopped to eat on a bench at the start of the Philosopher's Path, where we wound up giving directions to some Japanese tourists looking for Ginkakuji.

Once we were ready to move on, we went only a little ways down the path before turning off to visit one of the other temples along the way. Hōnenin was practically deserted compared to Ginkakuji, and while much less extensive, it was still very pretty, and its seclusion made it all the more special.

Taking a different path out of Hōnenin, we stumbled across a rather extensive graveyard, which was completely devoid of people. It was very attractive in the dappled sunlight, and another section farther down the hill looked, from above, rather like a miniature city sprawled out below us.

Hōnenin's gate, which looks smaller here than it is.

Just a portion of the graveyard.

We resumed our walk down the Philosopher's Path, passing where we had entered before and coming across a woman who sat hand-painting postcards. As we were browsing her collection, a British woman joined us, and we chatted for a short while. She told us that she was in Japan for only 25 hours, having accompanied a friend on a conference, and that she had come over from Tōkyō. Understandably, she complained that her feet were killing her. I couldn't imagine taking such a whirlwind trip.

Our own feet had nearly had it at this point. We reached the end of the Philosopher's Path and turned to head back towards the inn. Luckily we didn't lose our way on the return trip, and once safely back we only ventured as far as the shopping arcade outside our doorstep for food.

December 2016

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