Hiking in Kyoto: Daimonji Yama (Mt. Daimonji)

Daimonji-yama, part of the East Mountains, or Higashiyama, as they are called in Japanese, is a great place for a memorable and not too challenging hike. Daimonji-yama offers the most accessible and expansive view of the city. It is so high that on a clear day the skyscrapers of distant Osaka can be seen.

Daimonji-yama, or more properly known as Nyoigatake, is the mountain on which the largest of the five giant bonfires of Daimonji-yaki is burned in late summer. The character, ‘大’ meaning great, is gigantic. The hike up this slope comes out right at the center of the great character.

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Hiking in Kyoto: Daimonji Yama (Mt. Daimonji)

Daimonji Yaki: This is what it looks like on the night of August 16.

Hiking in Kyoto: Daimonji Yama (Mt. Daimonji)

Mt. Daimonji seen from the bank of the Kamo River

The hike up the mountain takes about 40 minutes and can be accomplished by most anyone that is reasonably fit. On the day I was there most of the Japanese that I met on the mountain looked to be in their 50’s and 60’s. I even met one lady, with a cane, that looked like she should have been 80! If you are not a hardcore hiker or mountain climber but want see experience a bird’s eye view of Kyoto, Daimonji-yama is about your only option. Also, this is the place where you can experience first hand everything from the details such as fire pits and steep steps to the full length and breadth of where this spectacular bonfire is burned.

How to Get There
Getting to the head of the trail isn’t too complicated but there are no English signs. Here is what you do:

  • Get to the gate of Ginkaku-ji, the Silver Pavilion and turn left and walk toward to stone torii gate for about 1 minute.
  • Just before the stone torii gate, turn right.
  • Walk up into the mountain for about 2 or 3 minutes and you will come to a V in the path at a small shrine, take the path to the right.
  • Fill your water bottle at the little spring just up from the head of the trail, this is the taste of Higashiyama.
Hiking in Kyoto: Daimonji Yama (Mt. Daimonji)

The Silver Pavilion (Ginkaku-ji) gate, turn left here.

Hiking in Kyoto: Daimonji Yama (Mt. Daimonji)

Stone Torii Gate: Turn right here.

Hiking in Kyoto: Daimonji Yama (Mt. Daimonji)

Tiny Shrine: Turn to the right here.

Hiking in Kyoto: Daimonji Yama (Mt. Daimonji)

Humor anyone? Sorry, did you say, "BEAUTIFULLY Mt. DAIMONJI CLEAN AWAY YOUR DOGS STOOL"?

Hiking in Kyoto: Daimonji Yama (Mt. Daimonji)

This is the place!

Hiking in Kyoto: Daimonji Yama (Mt. Daimonji)

Water flowing from the Nakaoyama Castle ruins. This is the only place to get water on the mountain.

Hiking in Kyoto: Daimonji Yama (Mt. Daimonji)

Trail condition: The bottom 1/2 of the trail is like this.

Hiking in Kyoto: Daimonji Yama (Mt. Daimonji)

Trail condition: The top 1/2 of the trail is like this.

Hiking in Kyoto: Daimonji Yama (Mt. Daimonji)

Trail condition: The final stretch at the top has a stone stair.

Hiking in Kyoto: Daimonji Yama (Mt. Daimonji)

Cable: This cable is to transport the wood for the bonfire.

Hiking in Kyoto: Daimonji Yama (Mt. Daimonji)

Almost to the top, a beautiful view of Mt Hiei, the tallest mountain surrounding the city.

Hiking in Kyoto: Daimonji Yama (Mt. Daimonji)

Arrival at the top.

Hiking in Kyoto: Daimonji Yama (Mt. Daimonji)

The shrine at the center of the '大' is dedicated to Buddhist Priest, Kobo Daishi.

Hiking in Kyoto: Daimonji Yama (Mt. Daimonji)

The fire pit at the center of the '大'.

Hiking in Kyoto: Daimonji Yama (Mt. Daimonji)

Fire pits and paths on the bonfire area.

Hiking in Kyoto: Daimonji Yama (Mt. Daimonji)

Fire pits and paths on the bonfire area.

Hiking in Kyoto: Daimonji Yama (Mt. Daimonji)

View of South Kyoto and Osaka in the Distance (Osaka can't be seen today)

Hiking in Kyoto: Daimonji Yama (Mt. Daimonji)

View of North Kyoto

Hiking in Kyoto: Daimonji Yama (Mt. Daimonji)

The shrine at the center of the '大' character, dedicated to Kobo Daishi (弘法大師).

Links and Reference
KyotoFoodie: Explanation of Daimonji and Gozan-no-Okuribi and Bonfire Photos (at the bottom of the article)
KyotoFoodie: All Daimonji/Gozan-no-Okuribi and Food Articles
Wikipedia: Daimonji/Gozan-no-Okuribi
Wikipedia: Kobo Daishi

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6 Responses to “Hiking in Kyoto: Daimonji Yama (Mt. Daimonji)”

  1. [...] Please read a detailed article with directions and images here [...]

  2. [...] crossing Izumo Bridge I noticed that Mt Daimonji was shrouded in mist, in a really wonderful way. I stopped and took a few photos with my phone. The [...]

  3. Mike says:

    Michael.

    We just hiked the trail, and I took almost the same pictures as you – so as far as I’m concerned, your post is a perfect introduction to the trail. This is a fabulous view of the city and well worth the 40 minutes of hiking. Coffee at Mo-an is a prefect reward.

  4. [...] Daimonji Viewing Party at Hirosawa Pond Hiking in Kyoto: Daimonji Yama (Mt. Daimonji) Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | View more Kyoto [...]

  5. Eugenia says:

    Thanks a lot for this post. The directions were super clear and I enjoyed my hike up Daimonji-yama.

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