Here’s a new excerpt from our book, Deep Kyoto: Walks. In this piece Perrin Lindelauf does a complete circuit of the Kyoto Trail, a hiking route through the mountains and forests that surround Kyoto. Along the way, pacing the ancient city’s perimeter and seeing it with fresh eyes, he finds his love for Kyoto rekindled…
Rounding Off by Perrin Lindelauf
“This book has covered a lot of ground now, from temples and shrines to the seedy streets of Kyoto’s nightlife and the deep shadows beneath the gables of fading machiya. Hoping to see something new of the city I have called home for nine years, I set out to take a good long walk on the Kyoto Trail. Just twenty years old, this route traverses the horseshoe of mountains that define Kyoto’s edges, linking shrines, temples and quiet villages while bobbing over most of the city’s notable peaks. For a city that lacks for central parks and can be overrun with tourists, the route is a refreshing step away from the crowds and noise. It will probably take several hundred years before the Kyoto Trail is venerable enough to attract the seeker of “Old Japan”—so much better for the rest of us.
About 75km in total, the circuit can seem intimidating, but the ease of access to nearly every section means that you can
split up the walk or linger at some of its sights without feeling rushed to meet a bus at the trailhead. There are four official sections: Higashiyama (25km) in the east, Kitayama East (18km) and Kitayama West (19km) in the north and Nishiyama (12km) in the western Arashiyama district. In my own experience on the Trail, I found that the official division was more a product of city hall’s development plan, rather than a consideration of what makes for a good hike.
Instead, I split my walking by theme: temples and shrines in Higashiyama (17km), the Mt. Hiei climb and descent to Kyoto’s villages (25km), a quiet stroll through Kitayama’s forests (15km) and the river valleys of Takao and Arashiyama (11km). While the course can be hiked from sign-post to sign-post, the maps available at any hiking shop in Kyoto are reassuring when you haven’t seen a marker in a while.”
Text and image by Perrin Lindelauf. All rights reserved.
Deep Kyoto: Walks is an independently produced anthology of meditative strolls, rambles, hikes and ambles around Japan’s ancient capital. All of the writers and artists involved in this project have lived and worked in Kyoto for many years and know it intimately. The book is in part a literary tribute to the city that they love and in part a tribute to the art of walking for its own sake.
About Perrin Lindelauf
Perrin Lindelauf lived in Kyoto for 10 years, starting out as an English teacher and gradually working on a travel writing career that has taken him to some of the most distant corners of Japan, as well as the rest of Asia. Born in the Canadian Rockies and an avid hiker, he has written articles for several English publications, and is the author of National Geographic Traveler: Japan. He can be found online at www.perrinlindelauf.com and @perrinl on Twitter.
To learn more about the Kyoto Trail, visit the official website here: kyoto-trail.net. A complete set of detailed maps for the Kyoto Trail (京都一周トレイル) has been published by the Kyoto Trail Association and can be bought at bookstores and hiking shops in Kyoto adn from Amazon.co.jp. There is now also an English language Kyoto Trail Guidebook which is available from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, and Amazon.co.jp.