Feb. 12, 2020 UPDATE
Story & Recommendation
Mount Daimonji is a mountain with a giant Chinese character for big on it
Mount Daimonji is a popular hiking destination in Kyoto. The altitude at the top of the mountain is 466 meters. There are many places where you can enter the hiking trails near Ginkaku-ji Temple and Nanzen-ji temple, and most of the routes take around an hour to get to the top. The route that starts from the left side of Ginkaku-ji Temple is especially easy and safe to climb, even easy enough for children. The view from the top of the mountain is said to be one of the best in Kyoto, and it is sure to awe you. On top of the mountain you can see the Chinese character for big, 大. Every year in August the character is lit up in fire in an event called Gozan no Okuribi. Because you can walk on top of this character it is not only tourists who visit the mountain, but also locals. You should be able to see most of the places you have visited in Kyoto from the top of this mountain.
Magnificent view from the top
From the top you can see almost all of Kyoto. Many people start their descent from the Chinese character, but I hope you will persist. From the top it is easy to see that the city of Kyoto is in a basin surrounded by mountains. What marks Kyoto different from other Japanese cities is that there are no buildings over 31 meters tall. This is to preserve the historic view.
The center of “大”
There are 75 fireplaces where bonfires are lit to form the Chinese character for big during the Gozan no Okuribi event in August. It is fun to just walk and look for them, and they make for nice places to take a break and eat some snacks.
Walk along “大”
These stairs form one of the lines of the Chinese character. It is 100 steps to the top, so you might get out of breath while walking up. The view you get to see while walking up is still definitely worth it!
Visit and see Gozan no Okuribi
The event Gozan no Okuribi is held on August 16 every year. It signifies the moment when the dead move to the other world; in fact the name of the event itself means “send-off fire”. There are five Chinese characters lit up on five mountains. The most famous character is the character for big, 大. The character can be seen from all over Kyoto, but my suggestion is Seiwa-in Temple that is located close to the Kyoto Imperial Palace. There you can see the character very well and there are not too many people. More info: http://sharing-kyoto.com/event_gozan_okuribi/
- Manner & Tips -
Be careful when hiking, the stairs can be really steep. Remember to take your trash home with you as there are no trash cans.