Translated by Sandy Lau
Visit Mt. Daisen This Summer! A 2-Day Escape To The Refreshing Outdoors
Visiting Japan this summer? We suggest traveling to a cool location for a pleasant trip. At Mount Daisen in Tottori, you can stroll through the forest, tour historic shrines and temples, and enjoy nature on a fun-filled two-day trip perfect for the summer
Written by MATCHA-PR
Forget the Summer Heat in Nature-Filled Mount Daisen
July to August is when Japan is the hottest. If you’ll be sightseeing during this period, we recommend heading to spots with nature, located in high elevation areas.
Mount Daisen in Tottori is a popular location for escaping from the heat in western Japan. Due to Mt. Daisen Plateau's high elevation and bountiful forests, this area is cooler than Yonago City located at the foot of the mountain.
As a result, visitors can have a comfortable trip here, even during sweltering summer days.
Many fun things to do await you at Mt. Daisen Plateau, such as taking a stroll on the shaded breezy mountain trail, entertaining outdoor activities, and visiting spots with stunning landscape views.
In this article, we suggest a two day trip to the Mt. Daisen Plateau where you can escape the heat of summer. The best way to enjoy this area is by using a rental car.
If you want to travel around by bus, please read the article linked below.
Day 1, Morning
Visit Famous Places in the Daisenji Temple Area
To head to Mt. Daisen Plateau, first you’ll need to travel to Yonago City. If you are coming from the Osaka or Kyoto areas to Yonago, we recommend taking a shinkansen (bullet train) that connects to a limited express train or taking the bus.
If visiting from the Tokyo area, you’ll be traveling to Yonago Airport by plane. From the station, head to the ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) street located along the temple road of Daisenji by either taxi or rental car.
On this ryokan street, you will find rows of shops offering cold drinks and ice cream made with delicious local milk. After arriving and taking a short break, let’s visit some spots in the forest of Mt. Daisen.
Daisenji Amida-do – Encounter the Mysteries of Mt. Daisen
After a ten minute walk on the Mt. Daisen Natsuyama trail, you’ll arrive at Daisenji Amida-do, which is considered to be the oldest out of all of Daisenji’s buildings. Amida-do (*1), established in the beginning of the Heian period, was rebuilt in its current location in 1552, following its destruction from a landslide in 1529.
This building is a National Important Cultural Property. It is only open to the general public on the 18th of every month, from April to November. An advanced reservation is necessary if you want to tour the temple on any other day,
This building has stood in the silence of this forest for over 450 years and contains a majestic ambience that will take your breath away.
*1 Amida-do: a temple hall dedicated to Boddhisatva Amitabha, the central Buddha figure in Pure Land Buddhism.
On the way to Daisenji Amida-do, you’ll also find old stupas and Jizo statues on both sides of the trail, glistening from sunlight filtering through the trees.
Mt. Daisen has been known for spiritual practices of mountain worship (*2) since ancient times, and is filled with shrines and temples. You will encounter the sacred world of Mt. Daisen firsthand simply by strolling around the area on the trailhead near the ryokan street.
If you wish to learn more about the traditions related to Mt. Daisen, please refer to the article below.
*2 Sangaku Shinko (mountain worship): a set of beliefs and religious practices in which a mountain itself is worshipped as a deity.
Local Food for Lunch! Daisen Soba Noodles at Miyamoto Ryokan
After a fun walk on the trail, for lunch we recommend Daisen soba, made with buckwheat flour grown at the foot of Mt. Daisen.
Miyamoto Ryokan is well-known for its delicious Daisen soba. Return briefly to the ryokan street and you’ll be able to eat homemade soba noodles at a Japanese inn that has been in operation for many years.
The Daisen soba noodle dishes here have a deep fragrance and flavor.
The ryokan has other dishes available as well, but this Zarusoba noodle dish is perfect for a hot summer day. The chilled soba noodles are placed onto a bamboo draining basket and have a great aroma and rich taste.
You can enjoy an even more refreshing flavor by eating the noodles after adding wasabi (horseradish) and green spring onions into your dipping sauce.
Day 1, Afternoon
See Daisenji's Main Hall and Ogamiyama Shrine Okunomiya
After departing from Miyamoto Ryokan, walk further along the temple road and you will find a large gate. Pass through the gate and walk up the steps to arrive at the famous Daisenji Hondo (the Main Prayer Hall of Daisenji Temple), an iconic spot on Mt. Daisen.
Daisenji was founded prior to the 1300s, and once prospered as a location for mountain worship practices before being converted over to the Tendai sect during the Heian period.
It is said that during the Kamakura (1185 - 1333) and Muromachi (1336 - 1573) periods, Daisenji was grand temple where many monk warriors gathered, rivaling that of Mt. Hiei and Mt. Koya.
Walking around the grounds and sensing the majestic presence of the once-prosperous Daisenji in the middle of nature is an experience unique to Mt. Daisen.
Those who want to leisurely enjoy the coolness and tranquility of Mt. Daisen’s forests can walk along the temple road lined with towering torii gates next to Daisenji Hondo.
Here, listen carefully to the birds chirping while you stroll on the road decorated with red lanterns and experience the beautiful outdoors of Mt. Daisen.
Proceed about 800 meters ahead from the stone torii gates at the entrance of the temple road and you will arrive at Ogamiyama Shrine Okunomiya, a shrine closely connected with Daisenji Temple.
This shrine, located in a central mountain worship area of Mt. Daisen, is also a place full of ancient history.
Ogamiyama Shrine Okunomiya is filled with visitors during festivals and events, but is otherwise a very quiet place. If you want to learn more about events held at this shrine, please read the article below.
Spend a Comfortable Summer Night at Toyama Inn
If you’ll be staying on Mt. Daisen Plateau, we suggest choosing an accommodation on the temple road’s ryokan street.
If you want to fully enjoy a Japanese inn experience, then we recommend Toyama Inn. This inn has accommodations and hot springs in beautiful Japanese-style rooms, and you can also relish kaiseki cuisine (a traditional Japanese course meal) made with seasonal ingredients.
Picture courtesy of Toyama Inn
One of Toyama Inn’s specialty dishes is sesame tofu, which is made with techniques passed down from the Edo period. This sesame tofu is eaten alongside dishes made with seafood procured fresh daily from Sakaiminato. Guests will enjoy its refreshing and rich taste.
Day 2 – Enjoy the Outdoors around Mt. Daisen!
Ride a Horse at Daisen Horse Riding Center
If you’ll be staying in the Mt. Daisen area, how about a trying a horse riding experience the next morning? At Daisen Horse Riding Center, there are many different riding courses enjoyable for all ages.
There are several horses you can ride, from adorable ponies to larger former racehorses!
Beginners can participate in either a walking course on the grounds or a 3 km horse trekking course to enjoy the magnificent nature of Mt. Daisen.
After putting on your safety vest and having your horse chosen by your instructor, you will be taught horse riding basics. You will have a great time listening to the surrounding sounds of nature, like the horse’s neighs and the birds chirping, and feeling the crisp air and wind while riding leisurely on your horse.
Picture courtesy of Daisen Horse Riding Center
Once you’ve enjoyed horse riding to your heart’s content, let’s head to the café and restaurant at the Horse Riding Center for lunch. You can refresh yourself by having a light meal, like Cheese Fondue Set (advanced reservation required) or cutlet curry rice, sweets, or a drink.
Discover Ancient Japan at the Mukibanda Yayoi Settlement Site!
The Mukibanda Yayoi Settlement Site, a recreation of a Yayoi period (*3) village, is a must visit when you are on Mt. Daisen! Here one can observe a village where ancient Japanese people lived, with Mt. Daisen and the spectacular sight of Miho Bay opening into the Sea of Japan in the background.
*3 Yayoi Period: the period dating from the third century BC to the third century AD.
If you enter the inside of the houses, you will encounter a structure called a pit house, made by digging up soil and installing a roof over the hollowed earth. You are sure to be impressed by this unique structure, allowing its inhabitants to spend cool summers and warm winters. Several centuries of history are contained in these houses and tools filled with wisdom of ancient civilization and coexistence with nature.
Visitors are not only able to explore the established area of the site, but can also enjoy Yayoi period-type activities. You can directly learn about the lives of the people of ancient Japan by making objects like tsuchibue (*4), magatama (*5), and ceremonial mirrors.
We are sure you'll have a great time traveling back to the Yayoi period days when at the Mukibanda Yayoi Settlement Site.
*4 Tsuchibue: a musical instrument made from clay that is played by blowing air into it.
*5 Magatama: a type of accessory from ancient Japan.
Meet the Towering Crow Tengu Statue at Niodo Park
To conclude your summer trip to Mt. Daisen, stop by Niodo Park, where you’ll find one of the area’s most interesting photography opportunities.
The figure watching over the children’s playground is, believe it or not, a crow tengu statue, which towers at a height of over 8 m! The crow tengu is said to have been sent here by the gods to impart wisdom through mountain spiritual practices.
It maintains a status in between a human and a deity. This tengu is the guardian deity of Mt. Daisen as well as a symbol of the mountain.
How about taking a photo of this giant crow tengu to remember your Mt. Daisen travels by?
Forget the Summer Heat by Visiting Mt. Daisen!
There are numerous locations at Mt. Daisen Plateau to help you escape from the hot summer weather. Be sure to refer to the travel plan introduced in this article and take a trip to Mt. Daisen in the summer.
Please see the articles below for details on sightseeing locations and activities on Mt. Daisen.
Written by Ramona Taranu
Sponsored by Tottori Prefecture