Advice,  Japan

10 (Probably) Unknown Points of Interest in Kyoto

Hiking Behind the Ninna-ji

What is it?
In the mood for a 2-hours hike with breathtaking views of Kyoto?
In the mood for a 2-hours hike with breathtaking views of Kyoto?

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.

Unfortunately when I got there the first time, it was closed because of the Coronavirus. However rather than giving up, I noticed on Google Maps a small pond nearby and decided to check it out. The place was under renovation so there wasn’t much to see, until an old man suddenly popped out of the nearby forest. Wondering where he had come from, I traced back his steps and discovered a well-marked path passing by old buildings that looked like sanctuaries or resting places.

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. I discovered afterwards that I had accidentally found a well-known trail, dedicated to taking whoever walked it past 88 temples (though they look more like resting spots).


The easiest way to access this trail is to search “Ryozen-ji” on Google Maps. Once you get there, follow the little brook north until you reach the pond; that’s the beginning and end of the trail.

While facing the pond, I personally find it easier to go left inside the forest and catch the trail there (it’s pretty obvious once we’re among the trees), compared to trying to find its other end.

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 (which takes about 2 hours, with some climbing at the beginning), the path constantly turns and splits into other trails. Therefore I would advise to take that hike during day-time (and perhaps explore some of these side secondary paths!) and to make sure your phone’s battery is charged! (Because 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 a mere 15%! So while the first part of the journey was certainly magical, things got more and more stressful as I saw night falling while desperately looking for a way back to civilization!

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