Friday, September 30, 2016

Daimonji-yama (大文字山), Kyoto

At the culmination of the Obon (お盆) festival, each year on August 16th in Kyoto, fires are lit on the hillsides surrounding the city. One of these fires is lit on Daimonji-yama (大文字山), which is right behind the main campus of Kyoto University. Unfortunately, I wasn't in Kyoto on August 16th but it should look like this:
Picture taken from wikipedia
In daytime, it looks like this:
Don't have my telephoto lens with me, this picture is borrowed off the internet
From the vicinity of my apartment building at dusk, it looks like this:
See the clearing up on the hillside?
It's actually rather close to Kyoto University. Here is my GPS tracklog:
red = bike ride, yellow = hike up to the 大, blue = hike up to the top
It's about an 8 min  bicycle ride (2.5 km) from Kyoto University to the Ginkaku-ji (銀閣寺), or Silver Pavilion. At the entrance, go left and you will find a short road that leads to the path up the Daimonji (大文字) mountain. I parked my bike at the end of the road:
My Bike Friday at the bike parking area
The wooden board in front shows the route:

It's a 20 min (1.25km) walk. There was a lot of water running down the side of the road because it'd rained a lot the last few days here:
Cascading water besides the road

You proceed up the dirt/cement road until you see steps to this bridge:
Take the steps, go over the bridge and turn left.
We turn off the road here but just ahead at the end of the road is this cable-driven platform for taking supplies up the mountain. Useful for festival time.

Leaving the road behind, we have a dirt path, sometimes with steps:

Nearing the clearing, we have stone steps:

At the top, we're at the center of the 大 character. There is a panoramic view of the city below:
Panorama taken at the center of the 大
The elevation here is about 331m. Note the small fire pits made from brick. Each one will be lit (and extinguished) by someone come festival time.

(BTW, modern cameras are amazing. I took the stitched picture here hand-held, no tripod, with a 35mm effective focal length lens, i.e. not a telephoto. And the camera is only a 16Mpixel model. A lot depends on atmospheric conditions and a tripod will eliminate a lot of blurring, but even so, the level of detail available from a casual setup on this slightly hazy afternoon is impressive. A 100% excerpt:
At 100%, Kyoto Tower is plainly visible 

The panorama at full resolution is available here: 26MB.) I guess a calm day in winter with a 42Mpixel camera would be simply incredible.)

At this point you can climb up these steps to go on to the top of the mountain. It's another 0.85km, or about 15 mins. You're actually climbing the vertical part (of the 2nd stroke) of the 大 character initially.
Up the vertical of the 大
The clearing will disappear soon. And the path will go on up through the forest, past several saddle points, until you reach the top at 446m elevation. There is another panoramic view here:
Panorama from the top of the mountain
The top is marked here:
Daimonji-yama 3 corner point is at 466m
At the top there is another way down that goes to Nanzen-ji (南禅寺). Unfortunately, I can't go that way. I have to retrace my steps as I have my bicycle at the bottom behind Ginkaku-ji (銀閣寺). Another time then.

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