The best way to reach the Silver Pavilion is to follow the Philopher’s Path. This two-kilometer long footpath hugs the Higashiyama mountains that make up the eastern border of Kyoto. The path follows the Lake Biwa Canal from Nanzen-ji Temple, past Eikan-do Temple to Ginkaku-ji Temple. In April, the cherry trees that line the canal explode with color, making this a hotspot during hanami. The path is so named because renown Japanese philospher Nishida Kitaro walked it for his daily meditation.
Lining the path are boutique shops, restaurants and cafes. Stop for some coffee and homemade cake at Pomme, a French-style cafe run by a friendly old man. He will tell you all about his tasty treats and then let you quietly enjoy them and watch the people pass by on their own philosophical stroll.
Instead of walking here from central Kyoto, consider taking the subway to Keage or Higashiyama station in order to save your walking for the Philosopher’s Path. The best time to visit is spring during the cherry blossom season and fall when the leaves change color, but really, it’s beautiful any time of year.
Probably not worth doing on its own, but as a path leading to the Silver Pavilion, it is a wonderful adjunct to your visit to that temple.