1. A view from Daimonji
After you’re done exploring Ginkaku-ji temple, boost your energy levels with a decent lunch and head straight for the nearby trail that takes you up Mount Daimonji. It’s a steep climb, but take your time, enjoy the shady surroundings, and you’ll make it to the viewpoint on the side of the mountain in about 45 minutes. When you get there, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning panorama of the city, with many of its landmarks laid out right in front of you. The summit of Daimonji is a further 20-minute hike, though the views from it are mostly obscured by trees.
Tip: Bring along your binoculars – you can see for miles on a clear day.
How to get there: Take bus 5, 17, or 100 from Kyoto’s main train station to Ginkaku-ji temple.
2. Meet the monkeys
Head to nearby Arashiyama for a hike to the top of Mount Iwata to meet the monkeys. The path to the top isn’t so long, but it is steep so you’ll want to take it at a steady pace. The monkeys run free, and you can even feed them from inside a hut. You can also enjoy great views of Kyoto City (see if you can spot Kyoto Tower). The park is open from 9am to 5pm and costs 550 yen (approximately US$5.07) for adults and 250 yen for children.
Tip: Don’t touch the monkeys as they’re not tame.
How to get there: From Kyoto’s main station, take the train to Saga-Arashiyama station on the Sagano line. There’s also a Hankyu line station (Arashiyama) if you’re coming from Umeda in Osaka (change at Katsura).
3. A stroll along the Kamogawa
Kyoto’s wonderful Kamo River is often overlooked by visitors focused more on the city’s more publicised sites. There are few better ways to spend a lazy Sunday than with a relaxing stroll along this gently flowing river, marvelling at the lively mix of locals and tourists going about their day. Begin your riverside ramble at Shijo Bridge and head north on the more pleasant left side of the Kamogawa. There are plenty of benches along the way if you need a break, and in about an hour you’ll arrive at where the river splits, which is a great spot to sit and enjoy lunch.
Tip: Look out for birds of prey circling above – they sometimes like to dive down and grab your food.
How to get there: Gion-Shijo train station on the Keihan Main Line and Kawaramachi train station on the Hankyu Line.
4. A hike between villages
This is the longest of the four hikes and will take several hours if you walk at a leisurely pace. Beginning in Kibune gives you a steeper start but a longer, gentler path into Kurama where you can soak your weary limbs at Kurama Onsen, if you wish. The walk, which costs 200 yen, payable at the start of the course, takes you along pretty forest trails and past several points of interest, including small shrines, a remarkable display of cedar tree roots, and Kurama-dera temple.
Tip: Bring snacks and water to keep your energy levels up.
How to get there: Head to either Kibuneguchi or Kurama from Demachiyanagi station in the north part of Kyoto City. The train ride takes about 30 minutes.
SEE ALSO: Guide to climbing Mount Fuji in Japan
– TEXT BY TREVOR MOGG
PHOTOS: FLICKR USER ANDREA SCHAFFER (MONKEYS), 123RF.COM, FLICKR USER JENS SCHOTT KNUDSEN (KIBUNE VILLAGE)
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.