(This is a past event.) Mt. Atago (924m) is the highest peak of the mountain range surrounding Kyoto City, followed by Mt. Hiei. It’s been a religious mountain from ancient times and the Atago Shrine situated on its top is the head of all Atago shrines across the country which are dedicated to the Shinto deity in which people believe protection from fire disasters. People walk up the mountain trail and buy a strip of paper at the shrine, which is put on their kitchen wall as a charm for fire safety. It’s also said that children who visit the shrine before turning 4 years of age could be granted lifetime protection from fire, so parents want to take their baby up the mountain.
The mountain is open through the year, but there is a lot of snow in winter. It takes about five hours to go up and come down. Sport shoes and back pack with snacks, a bottle of water, and clothes for layering are all you need for climbing in summer. Take the Kyoto Bus (not the City Bus) from the train station either Randen Arashiyama or Hankyu Arashiyama to Kiyotoki, and start trekking into the mountain. The trail is easy to follow as signs show the right way but it’s better to be accompanied by a Japanese guide.
View Atago Shrine on Mt. Atago in a larger map.
The mountain gets extremely crowded from July 31 through early morning of August 1 each year. It’s the day of Sennichi Mairi, or 1000 day visits, when a visit to the shrine on this day gives worshipers as much benefit as 1000 times visit. Many local people make an annual pilgrim to the shrine to get the charm and give them to their neighborhood.
There are more buses than usual for people going to the mountain. The peak times are about 5 p.m. to start climbing and 10 p.m. to finish at the Kiyotaki bus station.