Across the street from the Keage Subway station and the Westin Miyako Hotel, is an arched entrance to a brick lined tunnel with leads to the Southern end of the Philosopher’s Walk. This pathway follows a canal lined with cherry trees and temples.
We arrive in the late afternoon as the weather is turning overcast and chilly so we stick to the closest temple to the Southern entrance which is also one of the most popular, Nanzen-Ji. If we had more time and better weather, we would have loved to spend the day checking out all the temples along the path.
While we never actually saw the canal as it’s North of nanzen-Ji temple, there was water running everywhere; along the sides of the road, out of private gardens, most of it probably coming from the nearby aquaduct (more on that below).
Walking up to the main gate of the temple, a gigantic two story structure, we see three young women in kimonos taking pictures of eachother. I offer to take their picture of the three of them together with their camera and then ask if I can take one with mine. They happily oblige.
The temple itself appears closed to the public, but the abbot’s quarters are open for a fee of 500 yen per person. We have to leave our shoes at the front while we walk through the compound on elevated wooden walkways. There are numerous serene gardens and we saw several grounds keepers cleaning and pruning with what looked like tweezers and scissors!
Outside the temple is a Meiji era aquaduct dating back to 1890 which still carries water in it today.
After such a long day of walking around, for dinner we opt to keep it close to the hotel (after, of course, enjoying pre-dinner drinks in the hotel’s club lounge). Down the road, very near Okonomiyaki Kiraku, is a small family run udon noodle and tempura house called Asuka. Inside, there is a counter and 4 tables all on raised platforms with mats to sit on. If you go, please remove your shoes as is the norm here (unfortunately, some Italian tourists sitting next to us did not get the memo on this and were oblivious to the custom).
I order the udon with shrimp tempura and David gets a set menu with tempura, miso soup, rice and pickles. The udon soup is flavorful with perfectly cooked noodles, but next time I will opt to keep the tempura on the side as the tempura coating gets too soft, too fast, for my taste when it’s put directly in the soup.
Asuka, near the corner of Sanjo and Jungumichi Streets, Open 11am-11pm, closed Mondays. Our dinner for two, including a small sake, was 2400 yen.