Takao Mountain Getaway
Discover a world heritage treasure still untouched by the tourist crowds, near Kyoto. A breath of fresh air along a crystal-clear stream, in the middle of unspoilt, wild nature.
Leaving urban Kyoto for rural Kyoto
Buddhist temples perched on a mountain and maple trees blazing with colour in autumn, this is the setting for the small village of Takao, an ideal place for an excursion less than an hour from Kyoto.
When you leave Kyoto, the road quickly turns winding and the great cryptomerias alongside it cling on to the steep slopes and push their long, straight trunks towards the light. Houses become a rare sight; Kyoto has changed without us realising it. The noisy city with its 2 million inhabitants has become a mountain village in a matter of minutes.
Buddhist temples in the mountains
The bus drops you off at a little car park at the foot of a mossy staircase. The shade of the great trees rapidly form an inpenetrable canopy high above our heads, imbuing the place with the mystical aura its founder, the celebrated monk Myoe, was looking for. Then you'll arrive at Kozan-ji. Of the many buildings which were constructed here shorly after the year 1200, only Sekisui-in has survived. It's as if you have travelled to the Kamakura era, where warriors ruled the land.
It's also in the hollow of these mountains and in this temple that "choju giga", long picture scrolls called were designed. Showing a satirical depiction using animals of the life led by monks during this period, they are considered by certain great names of Japanese animation as the first manga!
Japanese mountain scenery
The walk continues along the river which is bordered by maples where, through the pure green of the water and forests cuts the small arched bridge which leads to the second temple. Many charming little inns provide refreshment and an opportunity to observe the water's current while sitting on tatami at the foot of the steps leading to the third temple, Jingo-ji. The latter is perched atop a plateau overlooking the course of the fast-flowing river and the many structures nestling beneath the foliage give the whole picture a vast and serene aspect.
Beyond the last hut, the wilderness surrounds you. A series of waterfalls and pools with strange bluish-green reflections might tempt you to bathe when the first hot days come along, and you'll often come across groups of friendly students cooking fish upon a strip of sand... After walking for around an hour and a half, the Kiyotaki joins the larger river Hozu, just before reaching the little station of the tourist train which will take you back towards Arashiyama.
An easy hike
For those willing to face a final climb, a route variation is possible, allowing you to reach the town on foot via Adashino and its magnificent shopping street bordered with very beautiful houses, some of which are still thatched. At the end of this wonderful day, those who still have the energy can wander under the green shoots of the bamboo grove or sit and meditate before the remarkable zen garden of Tenryu-ji.
A flexible, personalised guided tour
As part of our discovery days, your guide will prepare the best itinerary for you, but we also offer the possibility of contacting your guide beforehand if you have any specific requests (dietary restrictions, elements of the programme you would like to discuss, etc.). You will also have lunch with your guide in a restaurant along the route, recommended by them, according to your wishes.
Please allow about 900 yen for transportation, 1,500 for lunch and 1,600 for entrance to the temples. During autumn (from early November to late December), please allow two additional 500 yen per person to pass through Kozen-ji forest and Jodo-ji forest.
The meeting point is Nijo Station bus stop, on East side ("higashi") of the station, on Sembon-dori street, at 9am.
Up to 7 days before: 0%
Between 7 days before and 5:00 p.m. the previous day: 50%
After 5:00 p.m. the previous day and same day: 100%
Walking time: approximately 2 hours.
Difficulty level of hike: Easy.