If you find yourself in Kyoto and want to escape the hubbub, I recommend a climb up Mount Daimon-ji, famous because of the large kanji symbol (literally meaning “big”) carved on the hillside. You can see it huge from the centre of town, look on the hillsides to the northeast.
For such a beautiful nearby hike its surpisingly hard to find. Here’s what you do
- Travel to Ginkankuji, “The Silver Temple”, in the northeastern outskirts of Kyoto. There are plenty of buses from Karawamachi station.
- Facing the temple entrance, head down the street to the left, and take the first right before you go through the stone gate. Note there’s no need to pay the 500yen entrance to the table.
- Start heading up the valley, past the car park. The path splits a couple of times, take the branch each time with the most “footpath-looking” signs!
- After 30 mins you arrive at a small shrine at the centre point of the kanji, and you will be rewarded – if its clear – with a beautiful sweeping view over Kyoto, all the way down to Osaka to the south and the hills of Kurama to the north.
- The kanji turns out to be made up of a system of concrete bonfires which are lit for festivals.
- You can climb up further to the summit of the mountain through lovely forest (another 20 minutes each way – 466m). The path continues east from the summit. Watch out for snakes! I walked 200 or so metres further and saw the biggest snake I’ve ever seen slithering into the buses. Admittedly I haven’t seen that many snakes, but I was glad I had my trusty walking stick!
Here are some more pics: