Introducing Japan: Kyoto City
Dr. Lyle De Souza
Kyoto University, or Kyodai, is located in the
eastern part of Kyoto, so it is where I spend
most of my time. There are many famous
sights in this area such as Ginkaku-ji (Silver
Pavilion) and Nanzen-ji (temple complex).
Two of my favorite places are Heian Shrine
and the Philosopher’s Path (Tetsugaku-nomichi).
I love the proximity of Heian Shrine,
just five minutes from my dormitory. I know
the days and times when the shrine is less
crowded and I can enjoy its calmness and
familiarity. It’s by no means Kyoto’s most
impressive historical sight but is very special
to my friends and me because it’s local.
Lined with hundreds of cherry trees, the Philosopher’s Path runs about two kilometers
along the Lake Biwa Canal between Ginkakuji
and Nanzen-ji. Just a short distance from
the university, the path is named after the
late Kyodai philosopher Nishida Kitaro, who
walked it for daily meditation and in whose
footsteps I now stumble along while thinking
about my own work. I find Kyoto’s serenity to
be very conducive to thinking. Also evocative
of drama and passion, it is no surprise that
Kyoto provides the setting for famous
Japanese novels, such as Murasaki Shikibu’s
11th century The Tale of Genji, Mishima
Yukio’s The Temple of the Golden Pavilion,
and Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha.
Much of the fun of Kyoto—perhaps even more so now that every major sight tends
to be clogged with tourists – is finding new places off the beaten path. Kyoto never fails to surprise. Just recently when attempting a shortcut from Kyodai to Ginkaku-ji, I discovered a wonderful shrine that I had no idea existed! I always love to discover new places in this way, especially restaurants.
In Kyoto, the quality of eateries and cuisine is so uniformly good that it’s well-worth taking a chance on eating at one’s places of serendipitous discovery. Of course, I’m not going to tell you the names of all my favorite places. Part of the fun is finding places for yourself and making Kyoto your own city.