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The Shogunzuka Mound (R, Shōgunzuka) is located on the eastern mountains of Kyoto on the spot where Emperor Kanmu is said to have first surveyed the valley where he ultimately built the ancient capital city of Kyoto. Keeping with this tradition, Shogunzuka is perhaps best known these days for its observation decks which offer spectacular views out over the city below. The area is part of Shorenin Temple whose main buildings stand at the base of the mountain.

On the west side of the grounds stands the older West Observation Deck built on a rather unsightly structure about ten meters above ground. The west deck offers views toward central Kyoto and out as far as Osaka on a clear day; however, the surrounding trees block the views of most of the popular tourist sights around the base of the mountain.

The best views from the Shogunzuka can be enjoyed from the more elegant North Observation Deck from where visitors can look out over northern Kyoto all the way to Mount Hieizan. The spacious wooden deck seems to float above the trees and offers a mostly unobstructed line of sight from nearly 220 meters above the city. If you look carefully, you can pick out popular tourist spots such as the Imperial Palace, Heian Shrine and Nanzenji below.

The actual Shogunzuka Mound is said to contain a two and a half meter high clay statue of a general fully adorned in battle armor with a sword and an iron bow and arrow. The statue serves as a guardian talisman for the city and legend has it that the entire mound rumbles when the city is in danger.

Next to the mound stands the Seiryuden temple hall which houses a painting of the fearsome Buddhist deity Fudo Myoo, who is depicted holding a sword and rope, surrounded by flames. The painting is an important object of worship of Shorenin Temple and a national treasure. A reproduction is on display inside the hall.

The grounds also feature a beautiful Japanese landscape garden with maple and cherry trees that display brilliant shades of red, yellow and orange in autumn and pink cherry blossoms in spring respectively. The garden is known for its seasonal illuminations held in the evenings from late October to early December and from late March to early May. During this time visitors are also invited to see the night view of Kyoto from the observation decks.

Getting there and around

Shogunzuka Mound is located at the top of Mount Higashiyama.

On foot

Hiking trails lead up the mountain to the Shogunzuka Mound. One trail starts around the corner from Shorenin Temple near the former Awata Sanso Restaurant while another leads up the mountain from a trailhead behind Chionin Temple and Maruyama Park. Neither trailhead is easily found. The hike up through the forest to the mound is quite steep and takes about 30-45 minutes. Sturdy shoes are recommended.

By bus

On weekends, national holidays and everyday during November, the cherry blossom season, New Year and Golden Week, Keihan Bus number 70 operates roughly hourly buses between Sanjo Station, Keage Station and Shogunzuka. Some buses also serve Shijo-Kawaramachi and Gion-Shijo stations. The one way fare is 230 yen and is not covered by the 1-day Kyoto City Bus pass. During the rest of the year, access by public transportation is not provided.

By taxi

Shogunzuka can be reached by taxi in about five minutes and 1000 yen from Keage Station on the Tozai Subway Line, in about ten minutes and 1500 yen from Shorenin Temple or in about 30 minutes and 2000 yen from Kyoto Station.

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Hotels around Kyoto

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    • Ryokan Mugen (Adult Only)
      Luxury
      Mugen is a property that was built 160 years ago, situated in Kyoto, 1 km from Nijo Castle. Every room at Mugen features an en suite shower room, toilet, free toiletries and a hairdryer. Free WiFi is available throughout the entire property. You will find a shared lounge on site and a bar at the annex building. The ryokan also offers bike hire. Imperial Palace is 1.1 km from Mugen, while Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is 1.6 km from the property. The nearest airport is Osaka Itami Airport, 39 km from the property.
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    • Mitsuki Kyoto
      Budget-friendly
      In a prime location in Kyoto, Mitsuki Kyoto offers a vegetarian breakfast and free WiFi. The property features inner courtyard and quiet street views, and is 600 metres from Kyoto International Manga Museum. The accommodation features full-day security and luggage storage space for guests. The ryokan provides certain units with garden views, and the units are equipped with a private bathroom. Guests can enjoy a vegan or a gluten-free breakfast, which can also be delivered to your room. A bar can be found on-site. The area is popular for cycling, and bike hire is available at this 2-star ryokan. Guests can relax in the garden at the property. Nijo Castle is 1.1 km from the ryokan, while Kyoto Shigaku Kaikan Conference Hall is 1.8 km away. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 46 km from Mitsuki Kyoto.
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    • Guesthouse KYOTO COMPASS
      Budget-friendly
      Located in Kyoto, this traditional Japanese guest house features free Wi-Fi and a free public computer. Shichijo Onmae bus stop is 3 minutesf walk away. A seating area and shared bathroom are provided with each room at Guesthouse KYOTO COMPASS. Free toiletries are provided and blankets are available upon request. Select rooms have a garden view. A shared living area and bicycles are available for guestsf use during their stay at this Kyoto Guesthouse Compass. Access to the shared kitchen is available upon request. The guest house is 4.5 km from Imperial Palace and 2.2 km from Kyoto Station. Nijo Castle and Toji Castle are within a 30 minutesf bus ride away.
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    • Ryokan Tori
      Mid-range
      Ryokan Tori is located in Kyoto, 2 km from Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. The property is around 2.3 km from Nijo Castle and Kyoto Imperial Palace. The property is 3.2 km from Kinkaku-ji Temple and 3.7 km from Kyoto International Manga Museum. All guest rooms in the ryokan are fitted with a kettle. Each room has a shared bathroom, while selected rooms are fitted with a balcony and others also offer a garden view. All rooms will provide guests with a fridge. Guests at tori can enjoy an Asian breakfast. Heian Shrine is 5 km from the accommodation. Itami Airport is 50 km from the property.
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    • Kyonoyado Gekkoan
      Luxury
      Set in the Nakagyo Ward district in Kyoto, Kyonoyado Gekkoan offers an equipped accommodation with an balcony and free WiFi. The property is 1.1 km from Nijo Castle. This holiday home comes with a kitchenette with a microwave and a toaster, a flat-screen TV, a seating area and a bathroom with a bath. A vegetarian or continental breakfast is available daily at the property. Kyoto International Manga Museum is 2.1 km from the holiday home. Osaka Itami Airport is 37 km from the property.
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    • Guesthouse Engawa
      Budget-friendly
      Guesthouse Engawa offers accommodation in Kyoto. Guests can relax and enjoy the peace and quiet of Kyoto in their rooms. Each comes with a flat-screen TV, and an electric kettle will be provided upon request. Bathroom facilities are shared with other guests. Free toiletries and hairdryers are also available. There is luggage storage space at the property. Kiyomizu-dera Temple is 600 metres from Guesthouse Engawa, while Heian Shrine is 2.4 km from the property. The nearest airport is Osaka Itami Airport, 39 km from the property.
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    • Gallery Nozawa Inn
      Budget-friendly
      Gallery Nozawa Inn offers accommodation in Kyoto, 25 minutes on foot from JR Kyoto Station. Free WiFi is available throughout the property. Every room includes a flat-screen TV and air conditioning. Each room is equipped with a private toilet, and bathrooms are shared. For your comfort, you will find free toiletries and a hairdryer. There is luggage storage space at the property. Guests can sample Japanese-style breakfast featuring seasonal ingredients. There is a public bathhouse located a 10-minute walk away. Nijo Castle is 2.4 km from Gallery Nozawa Inn, while Kyoto International Manga Museum is 2.4 km from the property. Osaka Itami Airport is 36 km away.
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    • Yado Kiramachi
      Luxury
      Yado Kiramachi offers accommodation set 600 metres from the centre of Kyoto and provides a garden and a terrace. The air-conditioned accommodation is 600 metres from Kyoto Shigaku Kaikan Conference Hall. The ryokan features family rooms. Certain units in the ryokan have private entrance and are equipped with desk and wardrobe. With a private bathroom, units at the ryokan also have free WiFi, while selected rooms will provide you with a balcony. At the ryokan, some units are soundproof. A bar can be found on-site. Kyoto International Manga Museum is 1.3 km from the ryokan, while Gion Shijo Station is 1.6 km away. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 45 km from Yado Kiramachi.
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    • Guesthouse HANA Nishijin
      Mid-range
      Guesthouse HANA Kyoto is located in Kyoto, 300 metres from Kitano Tenmangu and 1.2 km from Kinkaku-ji Temple. A simple complimentary breakfast service is provided for guests. Bathroom facilities are shared. Guesthouse HANA Kyoto features free WiFi throughout the property. There is a shared kitchen and a common area with a TV at the property. Nijo Castle is 2.1 km from Guesthouse HANA Kyoto, while Imperial Palace is 2.3 km from the property. The nearest airport is Osaka Itami Airport, 39 km from Guesthouse HANA Kyoto.
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    • Rangetsu
      Luxury
      Located in a quiet neighborhood in Arashiyama district, Rangetsu offers Japanese-style accommodations with a private Hinoki cypress wood bath and free wired internet access. Guests can also relax in the public indoor/outdoor baths as well. Keifuku Arashiyama Train Station is a 10-minute walk away. The air-conditioned rooms feature tatami (woven-straw) floors and Japanese futon bedding. Each comes with a flat-screen TV, a fridge and a safety deposit box. Japanese Yukata robes are provided for all guests. Some rooms have a private open-air bath. Rangetsu Ryokan is a 15-minute walk from Arashiyama Monkey Park and a 10-minute walk from Tenryu-ji Temple. Togetsu Bridge is a 5-minute walk and Hankyu Arashiyama Train Station is a 15-minute walk away. Photocopying services and luggage storage is offered at the front desk. Free parking is on-site.
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Experiences around Kyoto

Top rated in Kyoto