Near Ginkaku Temple on the Philosopher's Path, this is a great place to escape from Kyoto's hustle and bustle. Flanking a flagstone pathway inside the temple's thatched gateway, two long regular mounds of sand are raked daily into shapes symbolizing the changing seasons. As you explore the surrounding bamboo forest (if you arrive early in the day, you can see the priests raking it clean) and stroll through the verdant garden, you may see the tombs of several notables, including novelist Junichiro Tanizaki, economist Hajime Kawakami, and artist Heihachiro Fukuda. The temple, built in 1680, is on a site chosen in the 13th century by Honen, founder of the populist Jodo sect of Buddhism. Year-round, monks place 25 flowers before the Amida Buddha statue in the main hall, representing the 25 bodhisattvas who accompany the Buddha to receive the souls of the newly deceased.
Shishigatani-Goshonodan-cho, Kyōto, 606-8422, Japan