I had visited Kyoto over 20 times, so I decided to pursue outdoor activities to enjoy Kyoto’s nature this time. If you’re looking for a half day hike in Kyoto, these are the best hikes in the city. I firstly picked Mount Inari right behind the Fushimi Inari Shrine, where I had visited before with my kids. At that time they got tired and insisted to go back from the middle of the hike. It is a nice hiking area, so I wanted to complete to circle Mount Inari path.
Mount Inari Hiking
It’s popular to wear Kimono and to walk at the Fushimi Inari Shrine. I found many people wearing Kimono (Japanese traditional clothes) and taking photos with the background of several layers of red Torii, gateways. Especially, Fu shimi Inari’s torii gate was stretching around like a labyrinth.
It took one to two hours to walk around Mount Inari. Sports shoes are recommended. I had visited the Fushimi Inari Shrine up to the Osanba pond on the middle way to the top of Mount Inari with my family before, but my kids didn’t have much patience to climb to the top.
This time, I took complicated torii paths to the top. It was around 5pm when I started to climb, but I reached the top around 6pm. There were some cautions warning about dangerous animals but I never encountered them. At Mount Inari observatory, I could see beautiful scenery of Kyoto town reminding me that it is still an old town compared to the other big cities in Japan. You can take a rest at several huts along Mount Inari’s path. Opening hours are until 5pm, but you can climb Mount Inari right up to 7pm during summer time.
Mount Daimonji Hiking
Secondly, I climbed up to Mount Daimonji for the first time. When I traveled to Kyoto with my mom as a 14-year-old to see Daimonji, mountain bonfire, I was astonished to see its huge and glorious lights and I still remember the image. Mount Daimonji is one of the five places to light a bonfire to send away the spirits of deceased family members on August 16. A hiking course is established to climb up to the top of Mount Daimonji and you can see the place to make a fire.
It is popular for trail running and hiking. I saw a few people running in the rain. The slope was not so steep and the length was appropriate for beginners. It takes one hour to hike. Right behind the Ginkakuji Temple, there is the entrance to Mount Daimonji. When I started to climb up, I was not confident whether the path was the right one to reach to the top.
Daimonji Fire Bed
After 30 mins walk, I found the fire beds in the middle of the way to the top of Mount Daimonji. The fire bed was located on the surface of the mountain and it represented Chinese characters 大, big or “dai”. Each fire bed was much bigger than I had expected. I could not imagine how hot it is, when people made a fire there. At the beginning of the path, it was a good walk under the green forests, but when I reached to the fire place, I encountered whiteout weather. I could barely see the fire place. One local person who was cleaning up Mount Daimonji in the rain, said it was unusual to see whiteout scenery and a rare experience. OK, I accepted it as his encouragement to me.
Mountainous Eikando Temple
After climbing up Mount Daimonji, I dropped by at Eikando near Mount Daimonji. Eikando is very popular in autumn season due to its Momiji, Japanese maple. Meanwhile, in other seasons, you can enjoy greens and different colors of Momiji there. When I chatted with a local, he said he liked Eikando more in summer. In the early summer, the number of people is less than in the high seasons and I could enjoy the ups and downs of the temple’s site on the mountain. Eikando was located on a hillside, so I climbed up Tahoutou located in the highest area at the site to enjoy Kyoto’s city view.When I visited there around 4pm, a buddhist monk was chanting a Buddhist sutra while singing and playing metal bowls and wooden drums. It’s exciting to watch. Eikando is huge and it takes about one hour to see around.