Feature: Daimonji-yama Climb

Length 5km; 1½ hours

Located directly behind Ginkaku-ji, Daimonji-yama is the main site of the Daimon-ji Gozan Okuribi. From almost anywhere in town the Chinese character for ‘great’ (大; dai) is visible in the middle of a bare patch on the face of this mountain. On 16 August this character is set ablaze to guide the spirits of the dead on their journey home. The view of Kyoto from the top is unparalleled.

Take Kyoto City bus 5 to the Ginkaku-ji Michi stop and walk up to Ginkaku-ji. Here, you have the option of visiting the temple or starting the hike immediately. To find the trailhead, turn left in front of the temple and head north for about 50m towards a stone torii (shrine gate). Just before the torii, turn right up the hill.

The trail proper starts just after a small car park on the right. It’s a broad avenue through the trees. You'll see a signboard and then a bridge after it. Cross the bridge to the right, then continue up a smaller, switchback trail. When the trail reaches a saddle not far from the top, go to the left. You’ll climb a long flight of steps before coming out at the top of the bald patch. The sunset from here is great, but bring a torch.