The Keage Incline is a stretch of old train track lined with cherry trees in Kyoto City.
It was originally part of the Lake Biwa canal system which connected Japan’s largest lake with Kyoto City. In order to carry boats and cargo from one section of the canal to another, a 580 meter (or about 1,900 feet) railway line was constructed. Boats were loaded onto flat cars and pulled along the tracks. Due to the 36 meter (120 feet) difference in elevation between sections of the canal system, the track is sloped. You notice this slant as you walk along the old tracks.
The canal route was completed in 1890 and at that time, the Keage Incline was the longest sloped plane of any canal system in the world. It was still raising and lowering vessels between the different waterways on its tracks as late as the 1940s.
Today, it is a popular place to take a relaxing stroll, especially during cherry blossom season.
Garden at the Abbot’s quarters of Nanzen-ji Temple
Built in 1291, Nanzen-ji is one of Kyoto’s most important Zen Buddhist temples.
The extensive grounds of the temple include sub-temples, a National Treasure and the 22 meter (70 feet) tall Sanmon, a triple gate structure. The sub-temples are called Tacchu and were built by apprentice monks to commemorate the great Abbots who have passed away.
Nanzen-ji gives its name to the Nanzen-ji sect of Rinzai Zen Buddhism. It is the head temple which oversees the Five Mountain System of Gozan, a group of Zen Temples in Kyoto.
The Philosopher's Path
The Philosopher’s Path follows the Lake Biwa canal at the foot of the Higashiyama Mountains.
It is one of Japan’s most famous paths for a quiet walk. In the 1920s, artist Kansetsu Hashimoto and his wife Yone undertook the planting of 300 cherry trees along the path. The trees which enchant Kyoto’s people every spring with their cherry blossoms are known to this day as Kansetsu-zakura – Kansetsu’s cherry trees.
Hakusasonso Hashimoto Kansetsu Garden and Museum Kyoto
Renowned artist Kansetsu Hashimoto begain building Hakusa Sonso as his residence, studio and garden in 1913 and it took several decades to complete.
As part of this Kyoto tour, gaze at the grand, majestic gardens while enjoying a local specialty lunch. Afterwards, it’s time to learn about Hashimoto’s life and works.
The grounds cover about 10,000 square meters or over 100,000 square feet and are home to a tea house, art studios where Hashimoto worked, and even Hashimoto’s own personal Buddhist temple where he prayed as part of his daily life.
The garden covers over 7,000 square meters or 80,000 square feet and is in the Chisen Kaiyu style. This type of garden is designed to be appreciated while walking around the central pond. Admire the stone works found throughout the garden, some of which are over 1,000 years old.
Even though the Hashimoto Kansetsu Museum and Hakusa Sonso Garden are quite close to the bustling tourist areas of Ginkaku-ji Silver Pavilion Temple and the Philosopher’s Path, they maintain a tranquil and calming atmosphere. Only those with reservations may have lunch here so rest assured that your afternoon here will be comfortable and relaxing.