Climb Up to Mt. Daimonji for a Panoramic View of Kyoto City

  • 2022/8/1
  • Climb Up to Mt. Daimonji for a Panoramic View of Kyoto City はコメントを受け付けていません

Climb Up to Mt. Daimonji
for a Panoramic View of Kyoto City

Mt. Daimonji" of the Gozan-no-Okuribi can be enjoyed not only from below but also from above!

What kind of mountain is Mt. Daimonji?

The “Gozan-no-okuribi”, which lights up the night sky of Kyoto every August 16 in summer, is an Obon (1) event believed to send the spirits of the dead person, called oshorai, back to the afterlife. On the slopes of Mt. Daimonji, located on the east side of Kyoto City, fires are lit in the character for “大(dai)” (meaning “large”). This event is also considered one of the four major festivals in Kyoto along with the Aoi Matsuri (2), Gion Matsuri (3), and Jidai Matsuri (4).

In addition to the character “大(dai)” in the east, there are five other characters and shapes: “妙法(myoho) (5)” in northern Kyoto, “funagata” (the form of a ship) in the northwest, another large character
“大(dai)” near Kinkakuji (6) in the west, and “toriigata” (the form of a torii (7)) in Kitasaga in the west. All five bonfires are registered as Intangible Folk Cultural Properties of Kyoto City.

When the Daimonji is lit around 8:00 p.m., it is lit in turn until the last torii form. The ignition time may change depending on weather conditions, but each mountain will be lit for approximately 30 minutes.

The character for “Daimonji” has a horizontal line 80 meters long in the first stroke, a diagonal line 160 meters to the left in the second stroke, and a diagonal line 120 meters to the right in the third stroke. The fire does not burn in a connected line but is formed by lining up 75 fire pits.

The fire pit is 1.3 m high and is made of pine splints stacked in a well on a foundation made of fire-resistant stone.

  1. It is a period of time during which the deceased and their ancestors return to this world from the world known as the afterlife. It is an occasion to welcome the deceased at the place where they spent their life, mainly at home, and to pray for their happiness in the other world to which they will return again.
  2. The festival is said to have started about 1,500 years ago and has a history of being held as a national event and is one of the few festivals in Japan that still retains the traditions of the dynastic customs.
  3. The Gion Festival is one of the four major festivals in Kyoto as well as one of the three most famous festivals in Japan. It is a festival of Gion and Yasaka shrines that takes place in Kyoto every year over a period of one month starting on July 1.
  4. The festival is popular for its period costume procession with costumes and vehicles according to each period from 150 to 1,100 years ago.
  5. The Buddha Dharma, a deeply meaningful teaching that cannot be described in words.
  6. The temple is characterized by the gold leaf on the inside and outside of the building. It was built by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu and is a World Heritage site.
  7. It is a structure at the entrance of a shrine and is said to be the boundary that separates the world of the gods from the world of human beings.

From Ginkakuji (1) Temple to the Gozan Bonfire

View from the firepit portion of Mt. Daimonji

Daimonji, famous for its bonfires, is the only one of the five bonfire mountains that can be climbed without any restrictions., and visitors can climb up to the fire pit where the character for “大(dai)” is burned.

There are several hiking courses on the mountain. Among them, the course from the Ginkakuji Temple to the fire pit of the bonfire is a hiking course that elementary schools in the vicinity of Sakyo-ku climb as a school event, older people climb every day to maintain their health, and families with children can also enjoy this course. First-time visitors are recommended to climb up from this Ginkakuji temple.

Follow the approach to Ginkakuji Temple from Tetsugaku-no-michi (2) (Philosophy path), turn left at the interval without entering Ginkakuji Temple, and turn right at Hachi Shrine (3) a short distance ahead, and you will soon find the trailhead. From here, it takes about 40 minutes by adult foot to reach the fire pit, which is about 300 meters above sea level. Most of the mountain path is maintained with wooden and concrete stairs for safe ascent.

Once you reach the fire pit after climbing the stairs, the view suddenly opens up to a spectacular panoramic view of the Kyoto basin. The Kyoto Imperial Palace, Nijo Castle (4), Kamigamo Shrine (5), Shimogamo Shrine (6), Mt. Yoshida (7), Heian Shrine (8), and Kyoto Tower can be seen, and the city of Kyoto seems to loom over you. In the mountains surrounding the Kyoto basin, you can see Mt. Atago (9), famous for the Sen-nichimairi (pilgrimage on a specific day) (10), and all the other four mountains where the bonfires are lit. It is a panoramic view of Kyoto condensed into a large panorama.

The foundation platform of the fire pit is lined along the staircase.

  1. The temple was built by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa. Yoshimasa was the grandson of Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, who built the Kinkakuji temple, and the temple was named “Ginkakuji” (Silver temple) as opposed to “Kinkakuji (Gold temple), and is also registered as a World Heritage site.
  2. This 2-kilometer-long walking path is named after early 20th century philosopher Kitaro Nishida, a professor at Kyoto University, who used to walk this path every morning to indulge in his thoughts.
  3. It is said to have been founded between 901-923 or 806-810. As its name suggests, the Hachi shrines are dedicated to eight deities. Hachi means eight in Japanese.
  4. Nijo Castle was built by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Edo period (1603-1868). Shogun is the title of a person recognized by the emperor as a national military commander.
  5. Registered as a World Heritage Site, considered the oldest shrine in Kyoto, there are two buildings on the grounds that are national treasures and 41 buildings that are important cultural properties.
  6. Registered as a World Heritage Site, it is said to be the oldest in Kyoto along with Kamigamo Shrine.
  7. A 102-meter-high mountain located in Yoshida Kaguraoka-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto.
  8. This relatively new shrine was built in 1895 to commemorate the 1,100th anniversary of the relocation of the capital to Heian where the current part of Kyoto City.
  9. A 924-meter-high mountain located in the northwestern part of Ukyo-ku, Kyoto City.
  10. Pilgrimage on a specific day, which is said to have the same merits and virtues as a one-day pilgrimage for 1,000 days.

Summit of Mt. Daimonji

The summit of Mt. Daimonji (466 meters above sea level) is about 30 minutes further on from the fire pit. After passing the fire pit, the trail suddenly becomes poor. From this point on, trekking shoes or hiking boots are required. From the summit, if conditions are favorable, you can see Osaka’s Abeno Harukas (1) in the distance.

View from the summit of Mt. Daimonji

Mt. Daimonji Hiking Trail

There are several hiking courses on Mt. Daimonji, ranging from beginner to intermediate level, and you can enter the mountain from Ginkakuji Temple, Honenji Temple (2), Reikanji Temple (3), Keage (One of the place names in Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto ), and behind Bishamondō (4) Hall in Yamashina. It is also possible to reach Otsu City, Shiga prefecture from Kyoto City by crossing the Daimonji Mountain. This area has been preserved by the local people for a long time and is rich in greenery and nature even though it is close to the city center.

For example, alongside the well-maintained hiking trail from Ginkakuji Temple to the fire pits, there is also a nature trail to the top of the mountain. The rich nature here belies the fact that it is so close to Kyoto’s sightseeing spot. You can hear the leaves of the trees swaying in the wind, the murmur of a stream, and the chirping of birds, and enjoy a quiet space away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Although the hiking trails on Mt. Daimonji are easy to follow, the trails are not always clear, and you may get lost. It is recommended that you prepare a GPS map application for hiking.

Mt. Daimonji trail. Rich nature just a few minutes away from downtown Kyoto.

  1. It is the tallest skyscraper in Japan, towering over the Abeno district of Osaka City. It is home to the main branch of the Kintetsu Department Store and an art museum and is crowded with many people on weekends. The observation deck (Harukas 300) is especially popular as the most scenic spot in Osaka.
  2. Located near Tetsugaku-no-michi, with a beautifully landscaped garden.
  3. Normally closed to the public, it is open to the public during the camellia season in spring and the autumn foliage season in fall. Visitors can enjoy the good old scenery.
  4. This temple is located in Yamashina-ku. It has a vermilion-colored main hall and a Imperial Hall that was reconstructed from the Imperial Palace.

Mt. Daimonji  Kyoto | Hiking
Nanamari-cho, Jodoji, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, 606-0000

The hike to Mt. Daimonji starts just past Ginkakuji Temple. There are parking lots around Ginkakuji Temple, so access by car is easy. If you use public transportation, take the Kyoto City Bus bound for Ginkakuji Temple, get off at “Ginkakuji-michi” or “Ginkakuji-mae”, and walk about 10 minutes to the entrance of Mt Daimonji.