Kyoto – Philosopher’s Path

untitled-84The streets around Kiyomizu-dera are pleasantly stacked with shops to please the tourist and locals alike. Calls from vendors mixed with sweet aroma of hot food. Tightly arranged, these shops sold every imaginable nick- knacks and titbits to satisfy all – many flavours of ice cream on a cone, bread or crepe. Soy delights – hot and cold. Clothing, from traditional kimonos to western designs, knitting and weavings; flowing “noren”; pottery – cups, saucers and bowls to mugs and plates; embroidered textiles; a variety of wooden souvenirs – from chops sticks to dolls to kittens; and “mochi”, a wonderful Japanese pastry, in all its design, shape, filling and colour. Then we have the preserved foods, in small packages to tubs and barrels. Amongst these shops are hidden shrines and temples in narrow back streets and alleyways. Today, it was not crowded but the ambiance of old Kyōto was certainly felt here.

The Way is basically perfect. It doesn’t require perfecting. The Way has no form or sound.
It’s subtle and hard to perceive. It’s like when you drink water. You know how hot or cold it is. But you can’t tell others. Of that which only a tathagata knows, people and gods remain unaware. The awareness of mortals falls short. As long as they’re attached to appearances, they’re unaware that their mind is empty. And by mistakenly clinging to the appearance of things, they lose the Way.
– Bodhidharma (d. 533)

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The Philosopher’s Path, “Tetsugaku- no- michi” is a stone path that runs along a canal built during the Meiji Period and lined, on either side of the canal, with numerous cherry trees. It is particularly crowded during the cherry blossom “hanami” season. Kitaro Nishida, a famous philosopher, used to stroll along this path to ponder his thoughts. Today, there was hardly anyone here and the canal looked just like any other waterway. However, the trees provided shade from the heat of the day. There are a few shrines dotted along the path. The sound of bird songs and a variety of flowering plants added some colour. Stone bridges connected both side. We had the path to ourselves today. The greenery was welcomed.


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