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the Shogunzuka mound offers a perfect view of the entire city of Kyoto


At the end of the Higashiyama driveway, there are free parking areas as well as a small observatory.
One can enjoy beautiful and breathtaking views of Kyoto city at night, along the way. However, it should be noted that the views along the way do not encompass everything. Further, the real Shogunzuka mound is in fact further ahead, and the observatory is only a small one.
After walking about 100 meters north from the public parking area, you will see a gate; this gate leads to the isolated estate of the Shorenin temple, the Shogunzuka Dainichi-do temple.

Inside, there is a mound, approximately 20 meters in diameter and 2 meters in height, which is known as the Shogunzuka mound. There is also the Dainichi-do temple, which is literally dedicated to the Dainichi Nyorai (Buddha).
The precinct is considerably more extensive than what it appears to be from the outside; it embraces various seasonal beauties.

Origin of the Shogunzuka mound

When Emperor Kanmu shifted the capital from Nara to Nagaoka to the south of Kyoto, several accidents occurred continuously. One day, Wake no Kiyomaro invited the Emperor to the mound atop the mountain. Looking down at the Kyoto basin, he suggested to the Emperor to shift his capital here because the land was very suitable for this purpose.The Emperor heeded his advice and began the construction of the capital, Heian Kyo, in 794 AD.

The Emperor constructed a clay statue of a general, 2.5 meters in height. He adorned the statue with armors, an iron bow and arrow, and swords before he buried it in the mound, as a guardian of the capital. Therefore, the place is known as Shogunzuka.
As depicted in literatures such as Genpei Josuki and Taiheiki, the legend states that the mound actually rumbles when the nation is in danger.

The place has also witnessed actual battles in the past.
In 1338, the rebel force of Nitta Yoshisada pitched a camp here and defeated the shogunate force of Ashikaga Takauji. In WW II, antiaircraft guns were positioned in this area.
Shogunzuka is indeed a remnant of several wars and warriors.
In the area, there are stone pillars and monuments, each with a pine tree hand planted by the political giants of the Meiji era, such as General Nogi, General Togo, middle General Kikuchi Takeo, and Okuma Shigenobu.
It is believed that each of those political giants stood at this very place and decided to build a wealthy nation, when looking down at the towns of Kyoto.

Shogunszuka Dainichi-do Temple

Dainichi Temple

Located atop the mountain, near the mound, the temple is dedicated to a stone statue of the Taizokai Dainichi Nyorai. The statue was discovered in the ground, marked by a monument at present. Its appearance, eroded by rain and wind, symbolizes its history. For years, it has been worshipped as Dainichi-san (the word “san” is attached to names to show familiarity). Further, at the end of the Edo period, the imperial warriors used to pray to him for the safety of their lives.

The karesansui garden to the north of the temple was created by a gardener named Nakane Kinsaku.

Four seasons at the Shogunzuka Mound

As the weather becomes warmer, japonicas and Higan cherries begin to bloom, followed by cherries, peaches, wisterias, and azaleas. In autumn, magnificent red flowers beautifully color the entire area.
In winter, when the air becomes clearer, one can see far beyond the normal visibility.
Even today, the Shogunzuka mound is a good unknown spot; hence, not many people other than the locals and taxi drivers know about it.
Since you have discovered this site and are now aware about us, we invite you to please visit us.
We are certain that you will be impressed to see that a place like this exists in Kyoto.

Four seasons at the Shogunzuka Mound

Shogunzuka Observatory's View of the Entire City of Kyoto

There are two big observatories in the north and west parts of the precinct.
The west observatory is more than 10 meters tall, enabling you to actually look down at the city of Kyoto. You can also see beyond Mt. Kitayama to the north and Osaka to the south.
The north observatory is located at the northernmost corner in the precinct. From here, you can see the mountain peaks of Higashiyama, stretching from the Shogunzuka mound to Mt. Hieizan, which cannot be seen from the west observatory. The tall mountain that appears far beyond is Mt. Hieizan that has two peaks: Dai-Hiei, which is the bigger one and is on the left-hand side, and Sho-Hiei, which is the smaller of the two and is on the right-hand side. You can also see Mt. Daimonji, which has the character “大 (dai, meaning big),”under the Sho-Hiei.

Moreover, in front of the mound you can also find the Ginkaku-ji, Jodo-ji, and Honen-in temples. The green structure over the Kamo River is the Imperial Palace, Gosho.
Both the observatories provide great views of the entire city of Kyoto.


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