Thursday, 9 June 2011

Sunday Hiking Report


"For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands." Isaiah 55:23

I am going to try and get out of the city and into the ancient hills and mountains of Kyoto, every Sunday. So I started today. Today I decided to visit Jubusan, and here in Japanese. 鷲峰山. Jubusan is home to Kotaiji, an ancient Buddhist temple. It has been considered a holy mountain for centuries. It was a privilege to set out and visit this place and the temple that has been placed there to protect the sacred natural area around it.

 A visit to Jubusan took me to Uji in Kyoto and Ujita area. It is extremely famous as a green tea growing area. I saw many tea fields along the way, as well as the usual rice fields. The walk takes you along many rural roads with old traditional Japanese houses. There were many elderly people working in the fields, but also many children and parents in the area. There seems to be an active PTA association, putting up signs reminding people that a warm family upbringing is the best way to prevent bad behavior or delinquency .(非行).There was a community bus, which is also a fruit of an active volunteer ethic in this community. The driver was rather surprised to see me board the bus but he soon got used to me and recommended a great ramen shop for me!

I had a  brief glance at the wikipedia page for Kotaiji. it seems to have been established in the 7th Century according to medieval records. However, after fires in 1361 and another fire in 1518, what we see today is different to the original. What we see now is as arranged in the 16th Century. Suffice to say, this mountain as been considered sacred for well over 1300 years, if not longer..

The temple boasts a two storied pagoda which was built in 1298 and restored in 1681. Still looking good I think.


Disclaimer: Do not attempt this walk without getting a guidebook or maps. You can get maps from at the bus shelter at 維中前 bus stop. Don't blame me if you mess up and get lost in Uji
How to get there
1) You need to get to Keihan Uji Station (京阪宇治駅)
2) When you arrive there, exit at exit 2
3) Go to bus platform number 2. Make sure you board a bus bound for Ichumae (維中前) It should be written on the bus as this is the last stop along.. It costs 440 yen. Here is a picture of it!
If you go inside the bus-shelter there are hiking maps available. Make sure you pick one up! .

4. Head East at Ichumae (that is keep going the direction the bus was going before it stopped at Ichumae)
5. After about 50 metres, on the left side of the street, there will be a tourist information sign board. However you will be looking for a sign on the road that has 鷲峰山/金胎寺 on it.
The first sign. These will be your guide all the way to the top. So cross the road and head along the road that goes in this direction.

Then cross the road and turn right onto the road where this sign points. You will keep following these signs, and will be walking along town roads for quite a while. The main thing is to keep going and follow them. The road will look like this and you will soon come to a bridge.
Head down this road
You come to a bridge with another one of our signs on it. Turn left and head in the direction of the sign. You will now have a lovely walk through the rural town.

 I am not going to show every sign on here. After following along the streets, for quite a while. You will come to a place where there will be and indicator that you are heading into the mountain soon. On the right side of the road there will be a sign with 信西塚 written on it.  I didn't have time to decipher the sign-board, but some significant historical event occurred here, but before I could read the sign a hornet appeared so I left. On the left hand side you will see stone stairs leading to  道神社 which is a shinto shrine. Here is a picture

These are the steps leading up to道神社. Go up and check it out. Then continue along the road. You are almost at the turn off into the mountain road.

After taking time to check these out. Keep heading along the road, around a turn until you see another sign with 鷲峰山/金胎寺 written on it. Head up this dirt road and now you will be on the mountain road. Its uphill from here and tough! Five minutes after heading up this road you will come to a stone road marker with 五丁written on it. Now keep heading up the mountain. You will eventually get to a rest area (which has no chairs)

I was really tired at this point.. really tired . Making the lack of chairs all the more painful!
You must push on and on and you will come to a lunch area with toilets. This is a great place to sit down and enjoy your bento. You will be hungry so get into it.
Keep following the signs from here to the temple. Here are some pictures of the temple

This is the main area of Kontaiji. Don't forget to head up the road further up to the two storied pagoda. Just before the entrance to the temple there is a road leading further up.
This area is part of a huge open space with many buildings and a grave yard as well. After exploring for a while continue along.

 Enjoy the area and head back the same way you came. There are however other routes that lead down the mountain, and you ought to find them out yourself. If you are not sure just head back the same way you came and you will easily get back to Ichumae station.
I took a different route down but am not confident to blog about it.
With what I have told you, you should be able to visit Kontaiji and get back.

There are many mountains and walking courses in Uji. Be sure to get out and explore yourself.

Disclaimer: Do not attempt this walk without getting a guidebook or maps. You can get maps from at the bus shelter at 維中前 bus stop. Don't blame me if you mess up and get lost in Uji

Post Script

Stamina Ramen in Uji. 800 yen! fantastic

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