2016 Japan summer trip (day 13)

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August 4
5:56 am – Got up

9:38 am – Off we go

10:37 am – Daigoji temple
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Daigoji’s temple area is located southeast of central Kyoto. The area is quite large as it includes an entire mountainside (Daigoyama). The main temple grounds (Shimo Daigo, Sanboin and Reihokan Museum) are located on the base of the mountain. The summit area  (Kami Daigo) has a few more temple buildings that can be accessed via a hiking trail from Shimo Daigo.

How to get there: The closest train station to Daigoji is Daigo station. It takes around 15 minutes to walk to the temple. There’s also a bus that can take you there (200 JPY). Let’s assume you’re coming from Kyoto station, since it’s the most recognizable starting point for any travel within Kyoto. You can hop on a JR train to Yamashina station and either transfer to the Tozai Subway line to Daigo station or take a Keihan bus numbered 22 or 22A to Daigoji. The train-train route will cost (190 + 260 =) 450 JPY while the train-bus route will cost (190 + 220 =) 410 JPY.

Admission: There are separate fees for Shimo Daigo, Sanboin, Reihokan Museum and Kami Daigo. They are 600 JPY each but there’s also combo tickets: 1000 JPY for any two out of the first three mentioned and 1500 JPY for all three on the lower grounds.

The lower grounds are open everyday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and you can get in until 4:30 pm. Kami Daigo is also open everyday but only until 4:00 pm (except from December to February, they close at 3:00 pm) and everybody must return to the base of the mountain by 5:00 pm.

I went to see the entire lower grounds. I didn’t feel like hiking anymore so I did not go up to Kami Daigo.

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I came in from the south pathway (right side on the map above) as I wasn’t sure if I can go in through the east (Somon gate on the map). If it sounds confusing, think of it this way: you’re looking east if you’re facing the above map. So on the previous photo, I was facing south.

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And this is me facing north. Reihokan Museum is on the right side and Sanboin is further up ahead.

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Shimo Daigo’s Niomon gate. I first went to Shimo Daigo because it was the farthest.

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This gate was huuuge.

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You can buy combo tickets from any of the three places at the lower grounds (on the right for Shimo Daigo).

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There’s a right turn after a short walk from Niomon. You can also take this shortcut to Kondo.

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I followed the path and turned right…

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…and then left. The paths to Kondo and Gojunoto (pagoda) are on the intersection up ahead.

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This is the bell south-west of Kondo.

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The path going east leads to Bentendo.

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Path going south leads to the pagoda (left side of the photo).

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I went to see Kondo before the pagoda. I’ll tell you about the lanterns tomorrow.

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A closer look.

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This was taken from the steps at Kondo. This was already around 11:15 am. You might ask, where are all the people?

After Kondo, I went to see the pagoda.

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This is probably Seiryugu Haiden (west of the pagoda).

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Gojunoto pagoda. Built in 951, this is Kyoto’s oldest building. It is the only one that has survived the fires that have repeatedly destroyed Daigoji over the centuries.

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Another image of the pagoda on the way to Bentendo.

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This is Hudoudo.

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Still Hudoudo.

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Is that the pagoda? Why yes, yes it is.

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This might be Shinnyo Sanmayado.

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This is Kannondo.

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I remember I went through here. I found it weird that there’s a pathway that goes around to the left that avoids the structure above. If you follow that path, you’ll end up the same as if you went straight through.

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This is Soshido. I got Shimo Daigo’s shuin from inside.

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I went up through the left side.

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There’s another bell nearby.

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The view from Soshido’s right side. That’s Bentendo hiding.

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Aw. I didn’t realize I was a bit far.

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And yet I still moved further back. Haha. Weird.

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I went closer though.

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I could not find a shot where the tree branches weren’t photobombing.

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This was probably the start of the hike to Kami Daigo. That’s Bentendo on the right.

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Sooo pretty.

I was on my way back after Bentendo. Like I said before, I wasn’t in the mood for more hiking even though there were still tons of time to explore the upper grounds.

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This was the detour around Kannondo that I mentioned earlier.

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Niomon gate from behind.

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On the way to Sanboin.

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There’s a garden on the other side of Karamon.

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Sanboin was different from Shimo Daigo. I was under a roof the entire time. It felt like it was some sort of residence in the old days.

Taking pictures wasn’t allowed inside but there’s an exception for the gardens.
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I should have done a panorama shot, but whatever.

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You’ll find this cherry tree right after the ticket area (entrance to Sanboin is behind me).

It was almost 1:00 pm when I left Sanboin. I wasn’t hungry yet but I thought I had to eat something, so…
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I went to Reihokan Museum after finishing the ice cream. Taking photos wasn’t allowed inside so I’ll just leave you with the two buildings where the displays are located.

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This one had various displays.

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While this one had mostly wood sculptures of buddhist statues.

I went home after Reihokan.

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Somon gate: the gate I first saw but did not go through. Walking straight leads to Niomon.

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Some info on Daigoji.

1:32 pm – Going back home
There I was at the bus stop near the Somon gate waiting for the 2:01 pm bus back to the stop where I got on to get to Daigoji temple. Google maps said the bus number should be 29A. Around 2:00/2:01 pm (not sure because I adjusted my watch a few minutes prior) a bus came but 29A wasn’t written on the signboard.

I was sort of panicky and itching to get out of the heat so I got on. As soon as I sat down I realized it was the wrong bus: 80% because there was no 29A on the sign and 20% because it was probably a minute early (in my experience, the Keihan buses are either on time or a bit delayed, rarely are they early; and if they are early, they will wait a bit for the exact time to leave).

While in the bus I had the route google maps generated on display with my current position on the map. I was monitoring the trip and was picking a next stop to get off. As soon i notice the dot veering a bit away from the route, I would press the get-off-at-the-next-stop button.

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I should have pressed the button somewhere before the intersection.

Some parts of the route the bus took was familiar and so that was a little bit comforting. It all came crashing down when I looked at the screens showing the stops and saw there were only two remaining, with the last one in Kyoto station. I didn’t want to end up in Kyoto station so I decided to push the button and got off at the second-to-the-last stop.

And I ended up here (blue dot near Tobakaido station).
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I had no clue where I was. The only recognizable thing I saw was a signboard that points to Fushimi Inari Taisha’s direction. I then opened up maps.me and asked it to find me a route going home. A few minutes in and I got the info. Since it was only 5 kilometers (my sort of limit for walking distances) and still early, I decided to walk. I figured it would only take around and hour and the exercise would be good for me.

I started out in a part of a highway, even saw a couple of trains…
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…went through a residential area and one turn later I ended up surrounded by trees.

In the beginning, I was even happy with the decision to walk as I passed through several of the Kyoto trail sign posts (was having deja vu).

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This was the first. There’s a path towards the right of this sign post that leads to Mt. Inari’s, let’s say front side.

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This leads to the front (?) side of Mt. Inari. More on this later.

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And here’s the second sign post.

There was a point where I was getting confused in reading the map. There was a Y-shaped fork but for some reason I couldn’t find the third leg. I couldn’t find the way so I said ‘fuck it’, and decided to follow the other (incorrect) path. It was still early (probably around 3 pm) so I had no problem making a somewhat hurried decision.

Still looking at the map, I noticed I was getting a bit further from the specified route. What’s worse is that there was no other path as I was mostly surrounded by green.
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A few minutes later, I saw red torii gates.
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After a few more minutes, I was seeing more and more torii gates.
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I thought to myself, “shit, I may have ended up in Fushimi Inari Taisha”.

And I did.

After a few more meters, I was on the Mt. Inari loop (the 2-hour hike I did last spring 2015). Zooming out on the map, I saw that I came from the other side of the mountain (let’s say back side), and whichever direction I went, it’d take the same amount of time to get to the shrine’s main entrance.

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I even made it to the top of Mt. Inari on the way to the entrance.

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The shrine at the top.

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I never get tired of seeing this.

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Remember this view?

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When I got to the shrine’s entrance, I bought a bunch of liquids from vending machines and again asked the maps.me app to find me a route home. This time, I made sure to select the bike option (the first route was walking option).

Looking back, had I taken the path to the right when I got to the Kyoto trail sign post numbered 4, it would have been a lot shorter walk.

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I even passed by another Kyoto trail sign post on the way.

The route was 5.9 kilometers long and the latter half led me to the same path I took yesterday on my way to Sannenzaka. I know I said 5 kilometers was my limit but I still walked all the way home.

5:44 pm – Home sweet home

6:10 pm – Laundry
Last time I washed my clothes.

7:44 pm – Finished laundry

10:24 pm – Sleep

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