Best hikes in Kyoto

Hiking in Kyoto


-Fushimi Inari Circuit

-Daimonji Walk

-Shogunzuka and Seiryuden Hike from Chionin

The Fushimi Inari Circuit

Length: 4 km

Time: 2-3 hours

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Fushimi Inari is probably one of the most famous heritage sites of Japan, because of the release of the movie: Memoirs of a Geisha.

The hike up to the summit of 233 meters on Mt Inarisan and following the torii circuit is one of the most interesting relatively short walks to do in Kyoto, The Inari shrine enshrines the god Inari, the god of rice, harvest and business. The messenger of this god is a fox (inari) hence the name. Because it is the shrine of business, all the torii of the temple are dedicated (and paid) by a businnes. On all the torii you will find the name of the business the torii belongs too...

The hike:

Take a map with you, which are available for free at the bottom, which will keep you from getting lost in the torii maze. Start the hike at the rear of the temple grounds and walk to the famous intersection where the torii are split in two sides. Take the right to continue. Climb the stairs to reach the Yotsutsuji intersection, where you will have a great view of Kyoto city. Afterwards keep climbing towards the upper shrine by following the map.

Once you reach the upper shrine, thank the shrine for making it this far and go back by following the map. With a map it is very hard to get lost and it is the best way to appreciate this shrine by completing the course.

Tip: Go early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds.


Daimonji Hike

Length: 2 hours

Time: 1-2 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

To do this hike you will have to start and end at Ginkakuji Temple. With this hike you will climb the Daimonji-yama and this mountain offers great views of Kyoto. It is little known by tourists, but it is a very pleasant hike to walk with all weather conditions. The hike is called Daimonji, because during the hike you will cross the horizontal stroke of the 'Dai' character engraved in the mountain.


The hike

From Ginkakuji, just before the gate, turn left to the 2 stone torii 100 meters away. Turn right just before the first torii and walk east up the hill towards the mountain. At the Shrine turn right and walk along the parking lot and enter the woods. Follow the river into the woods (150 meters) and take the stairs to a bridge on the right. Ascend the stairs on the other side of the river and keep climbing.

When you reach the Senninzuka (a monument for people killed durin the civil war) you have to walk to the broad path on the left that ascends to the north. Keep walking and climbing stairs and you will get to the 'dai' viewpoint.

If you want to hike even more, you can climb to the top of the Dai character and continue to the summit for about 20 minutes. If you do not want this, you can walk back the way you came back to Ginkakuji.

Shogunzaka viewpoint - Source:

Shogunzuka and Seiryuden Hike from Chion-in Temple

Length: 3 hours round trip

Time: 2 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

This is probably one of the easiest hiks in Kyoto city and starts from Chionin Temple. This hike takes you up to a viewpoint which should not be missed and is probably the best of Kyoto in my opinion.

The hike:

Visit Chion in by entering the main gat and climb the stairs to the main temple hall. From there walk towards the mountains. Follow the sign which reads: 'Big bell' and after visiting the bell take the stairs through the gate behind the bell and start walking uphill. From here follow the sighs reading: Higashiyama Sancho-koen (東山山頂公園 ). Stick to the widest and most obvious path and you will find the way to the top with ease. At the top you will see two viewpoints: one of them is free, the other one costs 500 yen (the boardwalk viewpoint). I recommend to pay the 500 yen and enjoy the magnificent view of Kyoto. It is definitely worth it! Have a green tea and soak in the view before returning to Chionin.

If you have any questions about the hikes mentioned above, feel free to ask them in the comments down below ^_^

Miki P