A Natural Way to Get ~1 Hour of Free Stair Master Exercise with Mt. Daimonji Hike!

Looking for a way to de-stress, or just want to discover more places around Kyoto? Then, hike this awesome Daimonji trail. Although it’s not as clearly marked as trails in America, these pictures should help you find your way.

A friend and I left Kyoto University’s Main Campus near Hyakumanben around 10 am in the morning. We are both relatively fit, so we hiked all the way up in less than 1 hour. But then we spent the rest of the time enjoying the view, exploring some more areas behind Daimonji, and taking our time to get down.

After speaking with some locals, we learned that if you go past the Daimonji shrine, and keep hiking up the hill, you will actually be able to hike all day! The trail leads to a few other mountains, so we are planning to explore someday soon.

Just to be clear, there are two Daimonjis, but we went to the one near Kyoto University. Also, please keep in mind that there are no lavatories, except at the bottom of the Ginkaku-ji Temple. So if you need to use it, I would you that public restroom before you start.

How to Get to the Start of the Trail

Once you leave Kyoto University area, there are clearly marked signs to visit Ginakaku-ji Temple — a mere ~24 minute walk on one straight path. Of course, if you can’t figure it out, ask around. Anyone should be able to help you.

Keep walking straight.

Once you’ve arrived at the foot of Ginkaku-ji, you will normally see thousands of tourists and food areas. But if you go slightly to the left, and walk down a narrow street, you can actually avoid all the tourists / school children, and walk on a more quiet, residential street.

When you see this house, turn right and keep going uphill.

Once you get to this intersection, make a sharp right. You should see a vending machine on your left, which is the 2nd to last one you’ll see before you start hiking uphill.

Keep walking straight up. Some of my pictures may be a bit blurry, but as long as you keep going straight up towards the mountain, you will be on the right path.

Alas, you have reached the final vending machine before you walk up to the top of the hill. Get a drink now, if you so desire. Keep walking straight up the hill.

Once you reach this juncture, follow the man standing in this picture. And if he’s not there, just rely on the stairs. You’ll cross a tiny bridge before making a sharp left.

Now, all you have to do is keep walking up the stairs. Although it may feel like it’s endless, I promise you that you will eventually reach the top.

Once you reach this point, you are more than halfway done with the hill.

And once you arrive here, you will see a small shrine — a common element on most hikes in Japan.

Now, you should arrive at these blue gates, which lead to the last round of Stair Master. Once you finish these, you are 97% done with the hike!

Congratulations! You have now reached the top. As I have now done this hike 3 times, I’ve included some photos below. The view is absolutely breathtaking and so worthwhile. And at this viewpoint, many locals pray to the shrine. You’ll see it as soon as you arrive.

One thing to note is it’s important to carefully down the hill. With my Nike Shoes, I actually tripped twice towards the very bottom, where there is an epic amount of gravel. When I switched into my Oasics, I had no trouble hiking downhill. Regardless, it’s better to take it slow and steady, as those rocks are surprisingly slippery, even when it hasn’t rained.

Overall, this is my favorite hike so far in Kyoto! Of course, I have many more hikes to explore, but this one is a must. 

Please let me know if you do climb this mountain, and let me know what you think! Another great blog provides instructions as well.