A short hiking trip with great views on Kyoto
In any season, there are wonderful views on Kyoto and its surroundings from different viewpoints. Shogunzuka Seiryu-den is one of the most famous ones, located centrally in the most eastern corner of the city on Mount Higashiyama.
Shogun-zuka is a place, where the ancient capital Kyoto has been founded. In 794 Emperor Kanmu was looking for a place to establish a new capital. He hiked to Mount Higashiyama, buried a statue of Shogun into a mound and prayed for peace of the capital.
In addition to the mound, there are two observation decks, Seiryu-den hall and a beautiful Japanese garden in the location. The Seiryu-den hall used to be a Judo practice arena, before it was relocated to Higashiyama. Japanese garden perfectly adds to the beauty of the place and is being illuminated in the evenings during the peak spring and autumn seasons.
How to get to Shogun-zuka
If you (and your kids) like hiking or easy walking in the forest, Shogun-zuka is a nice 30-minute medium steep hike from Chion-in temple (our 3-year-old had no problem to walk by herself). Start at Chion-in Temple in Southern Higashiyama area. It is worth visiting this temple together with Shogun-zuka. Walk through the impressive big gate and follow the steep steps up to the main prayer halls. In front of the main halls you will see a signing to the Big Bell, follow that way and find more stairs. After you have reached the Big Bell, go behind it and you will see short steps with a fence, which is open during daylight hours. This is where the hike through the forest starts. On your way, you will see wooden signs, follow always this sign 東山山頂公園 (Higashiyama Sancho-koen) and you will arrive to your destination in 30 min. or so.
The Keihan bus (no.70) runs on Saturdays, Sundays, national holidays, every day in November, and during consecutive holidays in April and May. It is a circle bus running along Gojo, Shijo-Kawaramachi and Sanjo up to Shogun-zuka. You will find the timetable here.
There is a parking lot on the top of the mountain, so it is no problem for getting of the taxi.
Conveniences and Incoveniences
There are of course toilets in the location, parking lot and a small park (just a bare grass plane to chill and let kids run, sit or change).
There is unfortunately no cafe, nor restaurant, but as everywhere you will find here vending machines with warm and cold drinks.
It is in generally stroller accessible, if you take bus or taxi, but you will not be able to go around the garden without having to lift it over stones. However, the garden is not too big, so I do think, it is alright.