In this hidden collection of temples we'll share a stunning but unknown spot in Kyoto by many tourists and locals alike.
Shogunzuka is a stunning, quiet area with calming temples to visit in Japan that looks over the whole of Kyoto. This view is a must-see and paired with the beautiful cherry blossoms during spring, it’s nearly the perfect time to visit!
How to get there
I recommend the hike from the back of Chion-in temple, this hour-long hike through the woods to fully embrace the nature of your surroundings, as well to fully appreciate the view at the top, it is also possible to hike to Kiyomizudera from here!
Here’s a link to show you the possible footpath to take. It also shows you an amazing walk to Kiyomizudera if you want to make a full day out of it!
If you are not a fan of hiking, you can get a subway to Keage or take a taxi up. On weekends there is a bus as well to the top of the hill. The website below shows all the bus times and locations, however, it is only in Japanese.
Why explore Shogunzuka?
It costs 500 yen to enter the stunningly tranquil garden, secret viewing platform and temple but the views are to die for! It’s incredibly quiet as very few tourists make their way up the hill to visit this temple. The Shore-in temple is rumoured to have a statue buried in the full armour of the Emperor Kammu in a garden rock which has a small pine tree growing out of the stone. Shogunzuka mound was built when Kyoto became the capital back in the year 794, and the statue was placed to protect Kyoto.
The platform is also much larger than Kiyomizudera so you do not have to worry about finding space to see the view! If you want a wider perspective, go to the Shogunzuka Western Observation Deck, where you can climb to get an even higher view of Kyoto and on a clear day you can even see Osaka!
It is perfect to sit and have a drink or bite to eat to refuel before the hike down but bring lots of layers, as it is not protected from the wind and gets cold during late autumn to early spring days.
The inside of the temple is rather bare, but it's perfectly zen, so have a sit-down, look at the calligraphy or check out the small gift shop too.
Explore other close by places!
Shogunzuka is close to Keage, so it is perfect to explore the Keage Incline during the sakura season! Though a more touristy place, you can get amazing photos here, or at the Suirokaku Water Bridge.
If you are in Japan for a while why not check out KOKOKA for some beginners Japanese classes as well as 100 yen classes to top up your conversational Japanese (I recommend going to this class with basic Japanese knowledge and a specific concept/textbook you wish to practice to get the full potential)
We will discuss these areas more in future the Kyoto Hidden Gems series! Please check our other articles for more information on Japan!