So there we were happily exploring the many temples along the Philosopher’s Path. We came to this Nanzenji Temple. We didn’t want to pay to go into the temple so we just wandered around the exterior. Somewhere at the back, we came to this forest and there was a trail!
Ting! Our eyes light up!. At that time we didn’t have any idea of where exactly we were and heading to but heck, got trails we trek. And so off we go exploring.
The initial part of the trail was some gentle slope and staircase.
As we go along, the ground became a bit more technical with many roots. But it was still fairly easy to walk on.
Subsequently, the trail became a proper dirt path.While there wasn’t many people, we did encounter a few hikers. Most of the time we were in the forest and surrounded by trees with nothing much of a view to see what was beyond. Then we came to this trail marker and learnt that we were on Mt Daimoji!
Oh my, a real mountain! We were excited but the board didn’t tell us how far to the summit and it was already mid afternoon. We didn’t want to be caught in the dark in the forest. A lady trail runner came down. First thing I noticed – she wasn’t carrying any water which means it might not be that far away. We managed to ascertain from her in a splattering of English that it will take us another 30 minutes to walk to the summit. Great! So since it was about 3 pm, we figure we had plenty of time.
But after 30 minutes of walking, there was still no summit. Then we met an elderly gentleman who was hiking up. He spoke English! And then the bombshell. He said another hour to the summit! Which means 4.30 pm. And as it get dark at 5 here, we were in a fix. We had no torch and just enough water for a casual stroll not a trek in the dark. But we could smell the summit! So near and yet so far. We took a gamble and decide to push on. And we reach the summit in 15 minutes!
Lesson learnt. Never believe anybody you met on the trails when they tell you it is XXXX distance or XXXX time to a certain point. God knows I said the same things to a lot of hikers before. Hahaha
So we reached the summit and there was a group of Japanese picnickers having a party. After the customary summit photo – the view was so so only, we decided to descend.
We had taken 2 and a half hours to reach the summit. It was now 4 pm and we figure if we go down the same way, it will be dark, in fact very dark before we reach the bottom. Did I mentioned I had no particular desire to be caught in the dark? So we asked the Japanese whether there was an alternative way down and it turned out there was. Just 45 easy walk down. They said, pointing to the opposite side from where we had came up from.
So we followed their directions and went down and barely 10 minutes later we came to this place which I shall call the false summit – and it had a stunning view of North Kyoto!
Although it was only 4 +, the sun was already setting and it was beautiful!
And then there was this interesting structure. which I found out later was some sort of pit where annually in August during the Obon Festival, it is lighted up in a bonfire and it will form the word “大 “ which can be seen from far far away all over Kyoto.
There were 2 set of steps leading down and we didn’t know which one to take. We got directions from Japanese teen and he told us either one can. So we choose the one on the left and walked into a by now rapidly darkening forest. Certain part of it was tricky to navigate and there were ropes to hold on to. But where were the rest of the hikers. When we started our descent from the false summit, there was one fella in front of us and another behind us. But both of them had disappeared. We figured we had taken a wrong turn and decided to back track as we didn’t want to go deeper into the forest. Then we saw another trail marker which pointed to the direction we had went. So we weren’t wrong but it felt so wrong to us. Nevertheless, we decided to soldier on and after 40 minutes of walking in the forest, we finally emerged onto a road which appears to run through the backyard of some houses.
Phew… thank God, it was still bright enough for us to see and we got out just in time.
Back at our apartment, we did a Google search and discovered that there was actually a very much easier 30 minutes climb via the steps from Ginkakuji Temple where we had started our day, and which we should have taken for the descent but somehow missed.
But all well that ends well and at least we got our legs exercised and managed to explore something off the beaten path and climbed a mountain that was 433 metres high – 3 times that of our Bukit Timah Hill.