Intro: There are so many sightseeing spots in Kyoto that there is something for everyone. For those who have the time and would like to enjoy walking and riding leisure times in Kyoto, we recommend three places with beautiful surroundings.
Places: 1:The Philosophy Path(The Philosopher’s Walk), named Tetsugaku-no-michi in Japanese, is the most famous walking path in town not only because of its profound name but also because of the many cherry blossom trees and other flowering plants grown on both sides of the canal that forms it. When the spring comes and cherry blossoms are in full bloom, you feel like you are walking in a wonderland of cherry blossoms. This is certainly a most unforgettable spot to experience in Kyoto. While it is most famous during this time of year (generally early April) it is worth visiting any other time of year, as it offers some great views of the city, and a relaxing break from other sightseeing. It is also worth checking out Honen-in temple (known for its camellia flowers), Ginkakuji (silver pavilion) temple and the short hike up to the ‘Dai’ character (meaning ‘big’) on Daimonji mountain. This hiking trail can be found by approaching Ginkakuji, taking a left at the entrance then a right around the top side of the temple. The hike up the mountain is about 45 minutes and offers the best views of the city that this writer knows.
Next is another walking area where people love to walk and cycle all year round.
2: The area is along the beautiful river, Kamogawa. The river spans across Kyoto city from north to south, and there are many trees grown on both sides, most of which are cherry blossom trees, but also include willow, and many types of flowering trees and bushes. It also offers great views of the mountains surrounding the city. The most famous walking section is from Sijo-dori to Imadegawa-dori along the river, which is about 3 kilometers with many birds flying (including kites) and fish swimming in the river. Recently there have even been otter-like rodents nesting around the north side of Imadegawa. There are also some animal-shaped stones in the river, and many people love to walk through and paddle in the river for fun if the water is not too cold. Walking along the river on a sunny day and bringing along food and drink, you could enjoy a wonderful picnic with friends in such great surroundings. In addition, when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom in spring or on a sunny day in summer, we recommend cycling along the river because of the beautiful flowers and shade of the trees. It is also a great place to take a frisbee or soccer ball, do some stretches or yoga and feel like a local.
3: Katsura River. Along with the Kamogawa, this is the most prominent river in Kyoto. It is amazingly varied, rushing into the city as a wild river pouring down from the mountains in Arashiyama, before flowing peacefully along with small vegetable fields on both sides. You can enjoy riding a rental boat in Arashiyama, and a bicycle trip from deep inside the mountains at Arashiyama all the way down towards Nara. It is especially enjoyable on the paths on the mountain side near the beautiful Togetsukyo Bridge in Arashiyama. This path winds up into a valley and leads to one of Kyoto’s best hidden temples, a beautiful small temple hanging in the mountains (look for the signs boasting of the view). The path in the opposite direction allows great views of the mountains, and the semi-rural way of life along this beautiful river.
Time of year:
The Philosophy Path(The Philosopher’s Walk) is very enjoyable during Spring and Autumn. There are also several famous places for maple leaves along the path, such as Honen-in temple. For Kamogawa, Spring and Summer are recommended for cycling. For walking, although all year round is suitable, we specially recommend the summer nights. Katsura River, especially the valley path, is best enjoyed with the fresh green leaves of Spring, or in Autumn when the maple trees are turning a vibrant red.