Nanzen-ji has a huge gate house or sanmon which is several stories high. There are gardens and cherry blossoms too but the main attraction is the hojo temple building and its karesansui gardens considered to be among the most important of their kind. Originally a retreat for the emperor, the buildings were made into a temple following his death. Inside you can see traditionally decorated and furnished rooms and traditional zen gardens. You have to take your shoes off to enter the temple obviously but there isn’t much space to leave them so we ended up carrying our shoes around which was a little awkward.
From Nanzen-ji it is a short walk to the start to the philosopher’s path which runs along a canal lined with cherry trees and other beautiful plants. Despite the recent poor weather recently and the lateness of the season, there are still quite a lot of blossoms out and lots of people out looking at them. The path was very busy and quite narrow in places but mostly people kept moving along and there wasn’t too much crowding.
There were lots of people in traditional dress walking around under the blossoms too. It was interesting to see people in traditional clothes making very modern poses and taking pictures of themselves with smartphones on selfie sticks! Lots of people seemed to be following the girls around taking pictures of them, they didn’t seem to know each other which made it feel a little creepy.
On the way back to the hotel we took a quick look round Kyoto station which is a huge complex of shops, restaurants and apartments so big that the large, busy station part almost seems like an afterthought. We found a place to have dinner in the station complex before heading back to the hotel to prepare for moving on to Nara tomorrow.