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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Hiking Mount Atago on July 31 at Night

Mount Atago Kyoto愛宕山千日参り

The night of July 31 is magic in Kyoto.

On that night, thousands of hikers climb Mount Atago - at night.

At 924 meters, it is the highest mountain in the city.

The festival that takes place that night is known as "Sennichi Tsuyasai," which roughly translates as one thousand days all night festival.

The purpose of the festival is to pray to the gods on the mountain for a thousand days of flame (for cooking, heating, life) and, on the contrary, a thousand days of fire prevention.

The hike is about 4 kilometers from top to bottom, though a bit shorter if you start from the opposite side of the mountain.

What makes this event special is that most of the climbers do so after dark. The city strings up lights from the bottom of the mountain, in Kiyotaki, all the way to the very top at Atago Shrine.

As hikers ascend the mountain, they call out "O kudariyasu" (on your way down) to those descending. In reply, they say "O noboriyasu" (on your way up).

At the very top are many lanterns (see bottom left).

Once at the top, pilgrims buy good luck charms to ward off fire and bad luck.

What to Bring

Light clothes, plus something heavier for when you get to the top (the temperature can be quite chilly)
A change of clothes
Light snacks
Small towel for sweat
Bit of cash just in case
Sneakers or light hiking boots

Bus to Kiyotaki

Kyoto Bus:

From JR Kyoto Station: Bus stop No. C6 Bus No. 72
From Hankyu Arashiyama station: Bus No. 62 or 72
From Keihan Sanjo station: Bus stop No. 14 Bus No. 62


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