Kyoto was my third stop in Japan and I had allowed myself three days to explore the city, two of which would be spent with Victoria and Joachim, who I also met up with in Tokyo. On my first day, I arrived at my hostel at 11 AM, after spending the night at the airport in Osaka and then spending the morning getting lost in the subway for three hours. I hadn’t had any sleep all night apart from maybe 5 minutes on the subway, so I was exhausted, when I finally arrived. After taking a LONG shower, doing laundry and sorting some things out for the rest of my time in Japan, it was 1.30 PM. I had arranged to meet up with Victoria and Joachim at 6 PM, but before that, I wanted to go on a small city hike. By then, I hadn’t slept for over 24 hours, so I decided to take a quick 1,5 hour nap before setting off.

When my alarm rang at 3 PM, I was so close to just cancelling my plans and staying in bed, but I knew that I would regret it later, so I forced myself to get up and began the 1-hour walk to the beginning of the trail.

Hiking with a lack of sleep was probably not the best idea, but the trail that I was going on was an easy one. I had decided to climb Mount Daimonji at 466 m., which is supposed to have the best panoramic views of Kyoto. On a clear day, even the skyscrapers of distant Osaka can be seen from the summit.

Mount Daimonji is famous for its role in the Gozan Okuribi, which is an event that takes place on August 16th every year, where 5 giant kanji characters are lit up by fires on the mountains surrounding Kyoto to celebrate the end of Obon, which is the festival of the dead. Mount Daimonji has the character, ‘大’, which means “great” and is the largest of the five. I, for some reason, forgot to take a picture of this, but Google is your best friend!

The hike only takes about 30-40 minutes and is extremely easy, suitable for me and my tired head. I met several people and got countless “konichiwa’s”, although it was mostly elderly Japanese people on the trail. I don’t know why, but it seems that the elderly have picked up hiking as a hobby way more than young people have in Japan. But it’s a healthy hobby for sure and in 60 years, I’ll (hopefully) be joining them in it!




There are several small religious monuments along the trail

Hiking up the mountain actually woke me up and when I got to the top, I had some actual energy in my body! The view was as great as I had expected it to be, but unfortunately, it wasn’t clear enough to see the skyscrapers of Osaka.



But, if I thought I was at the top, I was apparently wrong. I saw a man climbing above me and realized that there were steps leading further up. I wasn’t sure if it was going to take me to another mountain or if I simply hadn’t reached the summit yet (although everyone else had settled where I was at that time), but I decided to follow the trail and see where I ended up.

This climb was just as easy as the first one and in 20 minutes, I got to the “summit” of what I originally thought was another mountain. I have since looked at a map of Kyoto and there are no mountains nearby, so maybe this is the secret real summit of Mount Daimonji that no one knows about!! That’s going to be my conclusion 😉

Despite my tiredness, it only took me exactly 57 minutes in all to reach both “summits” or whatever that last one was – that’s how easy it was!




I got down just as the sun had set and went to see Victoria and Joachim at their hostel for an evening of games and talk. That night, I got back to my hostel at around 23 PM and headed straight for my bed. 1,5 days with only 1,5 hours of sleep plus a hike was not ideal, but I slept like a baby through the entire night.

2 thoughts on “Kyoto from Above: Climbing Mount Daimonji”

  1. It’s good to relax after such busy days! Hiking is not an easy, but how rewarding it can be. You make wonderful shots and you feel yourself a real conquerer, well-done, Melissa! Very happy for you and enjoy your lovely journey! Please do take care!

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