Walking The Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto

I’m traveling in Japan at the moment, researching my next two Hiro Hattori mystery novels and spending some time with my son, who just completed his degree (in Japanese language) at UC Davis. After spending two lovely days in the mountain resort of Hakone, we traveled by shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto for an overnight stay before heading into Wakayama Prefecture for a night on sacred Mount Koya. With only a single afternoon to spend in Kyoto, I opted for a walk along the famous Philosopher’s Path–a paved walkway that parallels a peaceful canal. The famous path lies in northeast Kyoto, and

Read more

A Visit to Ryuanji (Osaka, Japan)

Ryuanji is a Buddhist temple located in Minō Park, just north of Osaka. The temple itself lies about a 25 minute walk from the park entrance, on the path that leads to Minō Falls (one of Japan’s most beautiful waterfalls, and the reason many people visit Minō Park). Originally founded in 650 by an ascetic monk named En no Gyoja, Ryuanji is also the home to one of the oldest statues of Benzaiten (the goddess of music, fortune, and knowledge) in Japan. Although originally known as Minō-dera, the temple is now known as Ryuanji. It has been a functioning Buddhist temple continually since the

Read more

A Visit to Kiyomizu-dera (Kyoto, Japan)

Kiyomizu-dera (more formally, Otowa-san Kiyomizu-dera) is a Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto. The temple lies in Higashiyama, on the slopes of Mount Otowa, and has a beautiful view of the former Japanese capital: Originally founded during the 8th century, Kiyomizu-dera derives its name from a famous waterfall on the temple grounds. (Kiyomizu means “pure water” in Japanese.) Visitors can ladle water from the falls while praying for blessings and purification. (The day I visited, the line was short–only about 35 minutes–but I decided to forego the blessing in favor of spending more time on the temple grounds.) Kiyomizu-dera was a popular pilgrimage site during the Heian period, and

Read more