• Time: 4 hours
  • Fee: ¥40,000 (about US$266)
  • Expenses: about ¥2,000 per person

If you want to escape the crowds and visit some lesser-known temples, this route is for you: it explores the far northern Higashiyama district of Kyoto, which is off the map for most tourists.

We start by taking trains to reach Shugakuin Station, which lies at the base of Mt Hiei, the northern sentinel of the Higashiyama Mountains. From there, we will take a short taxi ride or walk to secluded Manshu-in Temple on a high hill side, via a small local shrine. This superb Tendai Buddhist temple has been described as a “temple within a garden.”

From there, we continue south to a Zen Buddhist temple known for an iconoclastic karesansui (Zen) garden, a mini bamboo forest and lovely maple leaves. We won’t list the name here for fear of attracting crowds to this serene sanctuary. (Please see the note below about this temple.)

Finally, we’ll continue along to another Zen temple which is home to a fine karesansui garden and a thatch-roof hut which is a replica of the one that haiku poet Matsuo Basho stayed in at this temple. Again, we won’t list the name in order to maintain the quiet of this temple.

This walk takes approximately four hours and can be done by anyone in moderately good physical condition. The guide will meet you at your hotel/ryokan in Kyoto or at Kyoto Station.

The walk costs ¥40,000 (about US$266) per group (NOT per person) plus expenses that average about ¥2,000 per person (taxi, entry fees, snacks etc).

You can extend this walk to create a six-hour tour — ¥60,000 (about US$399) per group. For the six-hour option, you can include a short walk of Philosopher’s Path which is a part of our Walk 1 (Northern Higashiyama Highlights and Secrets). For the six-hour option, we will normally make a lunch-stop near Ginkaku-ji Temple.

Note: During certain times of year, the “secret” temple described above requires advance booking and a ¥1,000/person booking fee. Once booked, the fee is non-refundable. The temple may be fully booked during these special times, but we will try our best to secure bookings for our guests (booking this tour further in advance increases the chance of availability).

To book a walk, contact us.