Japan Kyoto

Northern Higashiyama

Home to traditional arts and the influential Ginkakuji, Silver Pavilion

Photo of Northern Higashiyama, Japan (La via dei filosofi (哲学の道, Tetsugaku no Michi) 16-49-05 by Luca Mascaro)

Northern Higashiyama, nestled against the eastern mountains of Kyoto, is rich with Japanese heritage and serene temples. This district provides a contemplative glimpse into Kyoto’s historical layers, offering a break from the city’s liveliness.

About Northern Higashiyama

As a cultural hub, Northern Higashiyama’s history is intertwined with the development of Japanese Buddhism and the arts. Among its many landmarks is the Nanzenji Temple, a key Zen Buddhist site established in 1291. The complex, with its extensive grounds and sub-temples, is centered around the Nanzenji Sanmon Gate, which was built in 1626 and offers panoramic views of Kyoto.

Another highlight is the Ginkakuji, or the Silver Pavilion. Although never completed in silver, it reflects the aspirations of shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa when constructed in 1482. Ginkakuji is integral to Higashiyama culture, which nurtured the tea ceremony, Noh theater, and ikebana (flower arranging). The temple includes a distinctive dry sand garden and exemplifies the wabi-sabi aesthetic, emphasizing beauty in simplicity and impermanence.

The Philosopher’s Path, a stone walkway beside a cherry-tree-lined canal, offers a meditative walk between Ginkakuji and Nanzenji Temple. Popular during sakura season, it provides a picturesque experience.

Eikando Temple, also known as Zenrinji, is celebrated for its architecture, history, and the Amida Buddha statue’s unique backward glance. Dating back to the Heian period, its pagoda adds another scenic viewpoint.

Visitors will find cultural depth in the lesser-known temples and shrines of Northern Higashiyama’s neighborhoods. Seasonal displays add to the region’s charm, with spring cherry blossoms and autumn leaves framing the historic setting.

Neighboring the district, Okazaki Park and Gion enhance the area’s cultural diversity, with Gion known for geiko and traditional machiya houses. Northern Higashiyama’s historical significance is deeply woven into Kyoto’s cultural fabric.

Exploring beyond the popular spots in Northern Higashiyama reveals intimate moments with history, complemented by the nearby energy of Gion, showcasing Kyoto’s rich heritage.

Upcoming Events what's happening around Northern Higashiyama

🌸 Cherry Blossom Predictions
Thursday, 21 March - Saturday, 13 April 2024 (predicted)

Cherry blossoms (sakura) started blooming in Hiroshima on March 25, 2024, and are expected to reach their peak around April 1, 2024. In the Kansai region, including Kyoto and Himeji, blossoms are expected to start around March 28, 2024, with Osaka and Nara following shortly after, beginning on March 31 and March 30, respectively.

Petals typically fall within about 1 week of the full bloom unless the weather causes them to drop earlier.

For more information, see our complete Cherry Blossom Predictions 2024 guide.

Updated 29 Mar 2024
Event listings are sourced from public information, and may be incorrect or outdated. Always consult the official website for full details.

Around Northern Higashiyama

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