Hiking Up Mt. Daimonji (大文字山)

Sunday, 4 February 2018



Out of our huge list of "things to see and do in Kyoto", hiking up Mt. Daimonji (大文字山) was something that I really wanted to do. Not because the hike is "must do" recommended by locals or other tourists, but because it's a different activity to your ordinary visit to temples and shrines.



Starting from the entrance of Ginkakuji Temple (銀閣寺), we started making our way to the mountain by following these directions. We even bought rice balls to eat on our hike in case we got hungry. You may wish to bring a walking stick, but do not forget to bring water.



We began the hike at around 2:35pm. Maybe because it was late in the afternoon, but there were barely anyone around while we made our ascent and it did make me a little uneasy. However, when we could see that there were quite a number of coming down the mountain, it assured me that we were heading the right direction and that we were not the only ones on the trail! We were even greeted by almost everyone we passed with a friendly "Konichiwa" (こんにちは).



The weather was great that day, but as we walked deeper into the mountain, we experienced cooler temperatures—not to mention the humidity as well. The trail was also very slippery and wet (make sure you're wearing the correct shoes), but it eventually got better towards the middle and top. See these stairs? There are three flights of them, but once you reach the top of them, you've basically made it!



It took us about 30 minutes to reach the top and another 30 minutes to descend (1 hour round-trip). We spent another 30 minutes in between taking photos and simply admiring the view of Kyoto, so 1.5 hours all up.







Mt. Daimonji is famous for it's role in Kyoto's Obon Fire Festival (五山送り火) held annually in August, where a huge bonfire is lit on the mountain in the giant Chinese character "大" (dai) meaning big/large or great. We couldn't actually see the character "大" because we were right in the centre of it, but we could see its legs running down the mountain. (If only we had a drone...) If you want to reach the top of the character "大", or the summit, there's about another 20 minute hike, but we didn't want to proceed any further and started making our descend around 3:30pm.





If you want to see and experience another side of Kyoto, I highly recommend hiking up Mt. Daimonji. The view of the city was absolutely breathtaking and even though it only took us about 30 minutes to reach the top, it's still a moderately challenging trail due to its slope. All in all, a great hike for a workout: good distance and difficulty, and just the right amount of time. I wasn't actually feeling 100% that day and my throat was kind of scratchy, so it felt really good to break out a sweat.



Mt. Daimonji (大文字山)
11 Ginkakuji-cho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto 606-8402
606-8402 京都市 左京区 銀閣寺町11

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