Kyoto's Yoshidayama: A huge hill of ancient worlds



If you are looking for a living world of the distant past, then a few hours of wandering through the old lanes and neighborhoods of Yoshidayama or Mount Yoshida (about 1 km west of the Path of Philosophy) in the early morning or towards sunset will always leave you feeling refreshed and inspired. 

Yoshidayama gets its name from the writer, Yoshida Kenko (1283-1350).  He moved to the top of the mountain and became a monk there, retiring from a short career as a bureaucrat.  High above the city and its busy currents, he devoted himself to recording his thoughts and impressions on countless subjects.  Key passages from his classic, Tsurezuregusa, have long been part of all high school national language textbooks.


The best parts of Yoshidayama—the mysterious forest and shrine worlds of the top, and the area around Shinnyodo and Kurodani Temples—are quiet and offer surprising views.  Majestic views of Mount Hiei (to the northeast) and the long, undulating green wall of the Higashiyama eastern ridge appear suddenly at a turn in the road or between the trees before you.  Often you will simply find yourself sitting down and contemplating the intricate views and time worn scenes before you.  Set in the middle of a row of old, prosperous homes, the park-like expanse of an imperial grave.  At the end of a street: a crumbling, almost tumbling, earthen wall around a small temple and a tiny bamboo forest.  At the top of the south end of the mountain, a wooden pagoda looks out over the city, surrounded by enormous trees and grave stones covered with Sanskrit characters.  Get lost in the past, head for Yoshidayama and follow the spirits of ancient worlds and ways.

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