According to legend, Kyoto’s long history began at Seiryuden Temple, located at the top of Mount Higashiyama in the east of the city. Known as Shogunzuka Mound (将軍塚, Shōgunzuka), due to its location it has a large viewpoint with unparalleled panoramic views.
Kyoto was once the capital of Japan, is a city on the island of Honshu and is famous for its numerous Buddhist temples, gardens, imperial palaces, Shinto shrines and traditional wooden houses. It’s also known for formal traditions such as kaiseki dining, consisting of multiple courses of precise dishes, and geisha, female entertainers often found in the Gion district.
It is said that In the mid-8th century, Emperor Kammu chose this spot to survey the area before deciding whether or not to establish the nation’s new capital here. Satisfied with what he saw, he ordered the construction of Kyoto in 794.
This Seiryuden Temple is dedicated to Fudo Myo-o, a revered but fearsome Buddhist deity depicted against a background of flames. It houses an ancient silk painting of this deity that has been declared a National Treasure.
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.
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.
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.
Did you know
While you can get there by bus or taxi, there are also amazing hiking trails that 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. The hike up through the forest to the mound is quite steep and takes about 30-45 minutes.