I was 9 years old the first time I read Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. This still remains one of my favorite books, no doubt in part, because it left such a lasting impression upon my young mind. The internal dilemma Raskolnikov is tormented with throughout the book is so raw and pointed. The fear, loathing, and guilt is magnified throughout the novel and the reader carries it with them in their chest suffocating to the point that you can’t breathe.
This early exploration into the suffering of man, whether brought about by themselves or others, has always driven my psyche. It led me to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in English, Philosophy and Psychology and that is the reason I was particularly excited about visiting the Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto.
► Ranking: #cleandiaper
Sakyo-ku Ward (between Ginkaku-ji and Nyakuoji-jinja) Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
The Philosopher’s Path, or Tetsugaku-
That’s what I wanted to do too. But, it didn’t exactly go that way. The Philosopher’s Path is located at the top of a hill, and after traveling and walking quite a ways to get to it, in the hot sun, without being prepared with enough water, everyone was in a mood, coupled with the fact that once we arrived I wanted everyone to miraculously be quiet and appreciate the significance of this place. It definitely wasn’t the solemn, contemplative experience I was planning, but I loved and appreciated the experience nonetheless. In a few years from now, all I’ll remember is what I imagined happened there.
We walked a good stretch of the way, and after a little while our baby fell asleep in her stroller. We began to enjoy the serenity and came across a beautiful artist sketching the scenery. He was extremely gifted, and we purchased one of his prints from him. It is a wonderful memento of our time spent, not only in Kyoto, but along this path reflecting on the answers we haven’t yet discovered.
► For Kids: There are no requirements of this location beyond what you desire to make of it. If having a philosophical retreat is important to you, bring lots of water and snacks and try and make this outing on a cooler day if possible. Take breaks and try and not get caught up in the frustration of everything going wrong.
The full Philosopher’s Path is just over a mile long, but you don’t have to walk the full path to enjoy the beauty or gain perspective of this history. Check out the nearby Honen-ji or Ginkakuji Temples after visiting the Philosopher’s Path.
► Nap-Time Version: Famous canal lined pathway where the philosopher and professor Nishida Kitaro walked every day meditating.
Check out our Kyoto Destination Guide for a full list of the shrines and temples we visited during our vacation.