Hiking behind the Ninna-ji
What it is
The Ninna-ji is one of Kyoto’s famous temples, although its proximity with super stars Ryoan-ji and Kinkaku-ji tends to overshadow it.[break]
Unfortunately when I got there the first time it was closed because of the Coronavirus. However rather than giving up I noticed on Google Map a small pond nearby and decided to check it out. The place was under renovation so there wasn’t much to see, except an old man who suddenly popped out of the nearby forest. Wondering where he had come from I traced back his steps and discovered a well-marked path lined with old buildings that looked like sanctuaries or resting places.[break]
Since I had nothing better to do I followed that trail and embarked on one of the most beautiful hikes I have done, with breathtaking views over Kyoto and countless trails to try out. I discovered afterwards that I had accidentally found a well-known track crossing 88 temples, although it’s possible to leave it at almost any time to take instead other hiking trails.
The easiest way to get there is to search Ryozen-ji or Omuro-Hachijuhakkasho Reijo on Google Maps. That’s the first temple. From there you just have to follow the track (or leave it if you’re feeling adventurous!).
Although the landscapes are truly gorgeous at sunset (as I found out), it’s also easy to get lost. Indeed, unless you stick to the 88-temples trail, the path constantly turns and splits into other trails and some of them seemed to move away from Kyoto. Therefore I would advise to make that hike during day-time (and perhaps explore some of these side tracks!) and to make sure your phone’s battery is charged! Indeed, not only did I end up up there in late afternoon, but my phone’s battery (and thus my GPS and bus information) was at 15%! So the first part of the journey was certainly magical but it got more and more stressful as I saw the night coming while desperately looking for a way back to civilization!