Kyoto is located in central Honshu and was the capital of Japan for more than a thousand years, before the capital was moved to Edo (Tokyo). With a population of almost 2.6 million people (1.5 million in Kyoto City), Kyoto is a metropolitan hub. Strikingly different to Tokyo, Kyoto has kept most of its history alive and well over the hundreds of years. With hot summer and cold winters Kyoto is a jewel of Japan. Many people are familiar with the great tourist draws that Kyoto offers, such as the Imperial Palace, Kiyo-mizu dera and Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine. You may also be drawn to Kyoto by a chance to see the stunning geiko and maiko, or to taste the local cuisine. However, one thing that people may neglect about Kyoto is the scenery. When in the city you may catch glimpses of the surrounding mountain basin, so why not travel this way too?
Kyoto is truly a hiker’s paradise. Although surrounded my mountain they are neither too tall or too steep either, so even novice hikers would enjoy some of these routes. If you are a green spaces junkie then this is a breath of fresh air after experiencing city life in Japan. There are six routes to follow around Kyoto, all with their own guide maps and signposts. The routes are all clearly marked with signs, so getting lost isn’t something to worry too much about. These routes fall into three main areas.
The eastern route is about 24.6 km long and begins at Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine. This start point is easily accessible, just three stops on the train from Kyoto station. This route finishes at the foot of Mount Hiei. Along the route there are many shrines and temples.
The northern route is significantly longer, about 37km in total. Due to its length it is divided into two different parts, east-northern and west-northern. The former begins at the foot of Mount Hiei and goes to Ohara. The latter starts in Ninose and finishes in Kiyotaki. This is the route for all nature lovers as you can walk beneath countless towering Kitayama cedar trees.
The western route is a good choice for some walking and sightseeing. Here you can experience some beautiful bamboo forests, traditional Japanese buildings and stunning waterways.
For all the routes it is recommended that you purchase the guide book and map. Although they are well signposted it is still helpful to have them with you. They are available all around Kyoto and only cost a few hundred yen. Lace up those walking boots and get going!