After Ginkaku-ji, we walked south along quiet streets, parallel to the famous Philosopher’s Walk, to the Honen-in temple. It would be easy to miss the entrance to this lovely temple, as it is set back from the road and screened by a row of trees, but it is well worth seeking out. There was hardly anyone else there during our visit, allowing us to savor our time there. The grounds are smaller and simpler than the more famous sites nearby, but the seclusion and quiet gave Honen-In a great feel. I was completely charmed by the camellias floating in two of the fountains near the main hall.
We were fortunate to be there during cherry blossom season, as the main Hojo hall, which features paintings by Kano Mitsunobu, is only open to the public at this time and in the autumn when the maple trees turn color. We lingered for a little while, with Dan recording the bird and wind sounds from the surrounding forest, and me enjoying the details of the garden, including a tiny inchworm working it’s way along the roots of a tree. This was one of my favorite stops of the trip.
When it was time to move along, we continued to walk through the neighborhood, and eventually connected to the Philosopher’s Walk along the river. We enjoyed the waning cherry blossoms along the path as we walked the the rest of the way to Nanzen-ji, our next stop. By the time we got there, we were quite hungry for lunch. The popular udon place we were aiming for had a very long line, and we were a little surprised to find that there were not a lot of other options close by. After a little nosing around, Dan spotted a menu for another noodle shop down a small alley and we went in. It was tiny, with only about a dozen seats, run by a very friendly couple. Nice warm bowls of udon hit the spot on an unexpectedly cold day.