JSPS Quarterly
No.59 2017 Spring

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.

Philosopher’s Path Heian Shrine

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.

 on the map of Japan

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JSPS Quarterly No.59 2017