5 Easy Kyoto Hikes

Author: Celine Brewer

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Kyoto is rightfully famous for its beautiful temples and shrines. But, are you like us and get a little tired of seeing temple after temple? Thankfully, there are many easy Kyoto hikes you can enjoy with your family! Surrounded by lush, green mountains on all sides, Kyoto has many family-friendly hiking trails to keep you and your kids sane between all the temple visits.

The timing of our family trip to Japan was fortunate as our little guy was 14 months old and was quite content to be carried in a backpack carrier. Our daughter, who was 3 years old, enjoyed hiking on her own, but she still wanted to be carried occasionally. So, we brought a second backpack carrier to make it more comfortable for everyone when she got tired of hiking.

The easy hike up Mt. Daimonji was one of our favorite easy hikes in Kyoto, Japan.
We loved the view on the Daimonji Hiking Trail.

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5 Family-Friendly Kyoto Hikes

With two kids in backpack carriers and no stroller, here are the Kyoto hiking trails we enjoyed during our 7 days in Kyoto with kids:

1. Fushimi Inari Shrine

The Fushimi Inari Shrine is dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. Always open and with no admission fee, Fushimi Inari is not only the most important shrine in Kyoto but it is also one of the top sites to visit in Kyoto.

With thousands of brilliant orange and black torii gates lining the trail up Mount Inari, this easy Kyoto hike will be an experience your family won’t soon forget. In fact, I’d say it’s the best Kyoto hiking trail of them all.

The Family Can Travel team enjoys an easy family hike at the Fushimi Inari Shrine during a family trip to Kyoto.

We arrived at the Fushimi Inari Shrine shortly after 8 am and we were surprised that it was already quite busy. After passing the main temple buildings, we started our journey through the torii gates.

Stage 1 – Fushimi Inari Hiking Trail

The Fushimi Inari hiking trail started with stairs… oh so many stairs. The stairs are well maintained and flat, making it easy for younger kids with energy to walk up them.

It took us approximately 35 minutes to reach the Yotsutsuji intersection. Here, you can stop and treat the kids to a matcha ice cream (green tea flavor) while taking in the sweeping views of Kyoto below.

If you need to stop hiking and feed your kids, this is an excellent place to stop as most of the small shrines along the way have signs that say no sitting on steps or curbs. This is the point where most people visiting the Fushimi Inari Shrine turn around, but we kept going and recommend you do as well.

Elevated views of Kyoto from the easy Kyoto hike a the Fushimi Inari Shrine.

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Stage 2 – Fushimi Inari Hiking Trail

At this stage, the crowds start to clear out and the torii gates become less frequent. The rest of the hiking trail is a loop through the trees and is worth the effort.

There aren’t any views at the top of the Fushimi Inari Shrine and the torii gates become less frequent, but you’ll enjoy a peaceful, beautiful forest hike. We took the kids out of their backpack carriers near the top so they could enjoy a bit of the hike without worrying about them getting in the way of the crowds.

A 1-year old enjoys playing on the steps on a family hike around Fushimi Inari Shrine during a family trip to Kyoto.

As usual, getting out of a city allows the locals to relax and be themselves a bit more. The Japanese people showcased their fondness for children on this easy Kyoto hike.

One sweet older lady stopped our daughter and gave her a fold-up fan, which she absolutely loved. And, our little guy decided to throw a tantrum near the very top, but a nice shopkeeper from a nearby teashop invited us in, which put a huge smile on his face! 

A 3-year old girl stops to admire a fan given to her by a nice lady on the Fushimi Inari Shrine hike in Kyoto.
Our 3-year old loved her new fan.

When we arrived back down at the main Fushimi Inari Shrine, thus completing our family hike, we couldn’t believe how busy it was!! This can be one advantage of travelling with small kids, given that you can typically get to attractions ahead of the crowds. If you want any chance of getting your picture with the torii gates with no one else in the picture, get to this easy Kyoto hiking trail as early as you can.

Fun Hiking Activity for the Kids at Fushimi Inari Shrine

See how many fox statues your kids can find along the way. Foxes were thought to be Inari’s messengers and many of the shrines have fox statues as a result. 

A 3-year old girl admires a fox statue at the Fushimi Inari Shrine on one of hte best easy hikes in Kyoto.
Our 3-year old discovers a fox on the Fushimi Inari Shrine hike.

Fushimi Inari Shrine Hike Stats

Starting and ending at the Fushimi-Inari subway station, it took us 2.5 hours to complete the 3.4 mile / 5.4 km hike and our total elevation gain was 1017 ft / 310 m.

Dobongsan Trail Map on AllTrails

AllTrails Map

Want a hiking map to make sure you don’t get lost? Use AllTrails to navigate the Fushimi Inari Shrine Hiking Trails.

2. Kurama to Kibune Hike

Kurama and Kibune are small towns north of Kyoto which are separated by a densely forested mountain ridge. The hike between the two towns is highly enjoyable for anyone looking for an easy hike near Kyoto.

For the kids, taking the train to Kurama will be half the fun. Taking the Eizan Railway from the Demachiyanagi subway station to the Kurama Station is a stunning, above ground train ride which winds through the northern suburbs of Kyoto before entering a well-treed mountain valley.

a family enjoys the scenic train ride from Kyoto to Kurama, Japan.

Stage 1 – Kurama to Kibune Trail

Once at the Kurama station, you pass a series of souvenir stands on your way to the Kankiin Buddhist Temple. Here you have a choice of starting to hike or to take a funicular part of the way up.

The funicular takes you to a short, reasonably flat pathway to the main temple complex. We skipped the cable-car and entered the Buddhist Temple complex to begin the hike.

A funicular in the forest near the Kurama train station in Japan.

The hike to Kurama-dera (the main temple) took us about 40 minutes and was very steep upwards with many stairs. It was too steep for our small kids, so we were grateful we could carry them in our backpack carriers!

The hike winds through a beautiful dense, old growth forest which provides a lot of shade (very welcome on a hot, sunny day!). Thankfully, there are many small temple buildings, shrines and benches along the way which give you an excuse to stop and rest or to feed the kids. 

Celine Brewer, of the Family Can Travel blog, carries her 1 year old on an easy hike between Kurama and Kibune.

Once up at the Kurama-dera temple, there are many good spots to stop for lunch or a snack (bring your own). Be sure to soak in the beauty of the complex and the views of the city below.

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Stage 2 – Kurama to Kibune Trail

When you are ready to continue hiking, follow the hiking path along to the left and follow the signs for Kibune. Watch for an English/Japanese sign for Kibune – when you see it, take a picture to remember what the Japanese symbols for Kibune are (or save this blog post) as all the signs beyond this point will be Japanese only.

The Kurama-dera temple can be reached on an easy hiking trail between Kurama and Kibune, Japan.
The hiking trail sign showing the Japanese letters for Kibune.

When you reach the very top of the ridge, you have the option of continuing along the loop, which takes you back down to Kurama, or you can take the hiking trail to Kibune.

The trail to Kibune is steep downwards and alternates between steps and a natural dirt pathway with lots and lots of tree roots. If they are capable, your kids will have fun walking over the cool looking roots.

The easy hike between Kurama and Kibune runs through a beautiful forest. Many trees have extensive above ground roots systems like this one.

Kibune is a charming little mountain town with a Buddhist Temple. From here you have the option of hiking back to the Kurama train station or you can take a short bus ride to Kibuneguchi Station, where you hop back on the Eizan Railway back to Kyoto (which is what we did).

The bus stop is a 4 minute walk downhill from where the hiking path ends. Don’t forget to bring some pocket change for the bus.

Celine Brewer, of FamilyCanTravel.com, stands on an orange bridge after an easy family hike to Kibune, Japan.

Fun for Kids – Kurama to Kibune Hike

This task should be pretty easy, but see if your kids can spot Tengu – a “heavenly dog” found in Japanese folk religion and are considered a type of Shinto god. (They should see them in the souvenir stands in Kurama, very shortly after getting off the train.) 

A Tengu is a “heavenly dog” found in Japanese folk religion and are considered a type of Shinto god.

Hiking Stats – Kurama to Kibune Trail

Starting from the Kurama rail station to the town of Kibune, this easy Kyoto hike took us 2 hours and 6 minutes. Our total hiking distance was 2 miles / 3.3 km and our total elevation gain was 954 ft / 291 m. 

Dobongsan Trail Map on AllTrails

AllTrails Map

English signage on the Kurama to Kibune trail is limited. Make sure you download the AllTrails map before you go.

3. Monkey Park Iwatayama

Home to over 100 macaque monkeys, this easy hike takes you to Monkey Park Iwatayama, one of Kyoto’s most unusual attractions.

After crossing the Togetsukyō Bridge, we found the signage to get to the entrance to the Monkey Park Iwatayama to be a bit confusing. Simply turn right after crossing the bridge and you will find the entrance to the park…

The pathway for this steep 20 minute climb is partly paved, but large sections were over dirt. The walk is well treed and we found it to be quite enjoyable. Near the top of this hike is a playground – keep this in mind when you need to bribe your kids to leave the monkeys on top…

A Kyoto playground with swings found on the hiking trail to the Monkey Park Iwatayama.

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At the top of the hiking trail to Monkey Park Iwatayama, you will find lots of people and monkeys standing around looking at each other. There is also a building with chicken-wire fence windows so you can “safely” feed the monkeys

A note on safety – watch your kids closely as some of these monkeys are quite aggressive. Shortly after we got to the top, our daughter was standing a few feet from a monkey and a staff member came to chase it away, telling us it was aggressive.

Later, we went inside and bought a small bag of peanuts for her so she could feed them from inside the building. She loved feeding the monkeys, who would reach in and grab a peanut out of her hand.

One of the monkeys was visibly irritated and took a swipe at her face after grabbing the peanut. It missed, thankfully, but I was a lot more careful with how close she got from that point onwards.

A 3-year old girl feed a peanut to a macaque monkey at the Monkey Park Iwatayama in Kyoto.

Please note that strollers are not allowed on the hike. There is a a place to park your stroller within the park close to the ticket window.

Fun Activity for the Kids

See if they can hear or see a macaque monkey in the trees on the hike up to the top.

Hiking Stats – Monkey Park Iwatayama Trail

Starting from the entrance gate it took us about 20 minutes to climb the 0.6 mile / 1 km walk to the top of Monkey Park Iwatayama. The total elevation gain was 446 ft / 136 m. Although we deem this as an “easy Kyoto hike”, some people may find the trail a little steep.

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4. Daimonji

Every August, the Obon Festival is celebrated in Kyoto to honor the spirits of one’s ancestors. The culmination of this festival is a series of five giant bonfires lit on the hillsides which surround the city.

The fire lit on Mt. Diamonji-yama is one of the most popular as it is widely seen throughout the city. Lucky for us, Mt. Diamonji-yama is available throughout the rest of the year as a fun, easy Kyoto hike with great views of the historic city below.

A giant bonfire is lit on Mt. Diamonji-yama for the Obon Festival in Kyoto, Japan.

To find the trailhead for the Daimonji hike stand in front of the entrance of the Silver Pavilion. There will be a road on your left (going north). Simply follow this road…

One great thing about this short hike is its close proximity to Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavilion. This enables you to visit a beautiful temple and get some exercise in the same outing.

The Daimonji hike was, as we have consistently found throughout Kyoto, really great with dense trees and the sounds of birds the whole way. The hiking trail was a combination of paved, natural path, concrete and wooden steps. It can be pretty steep in spots, but this hike was short enough that our 3 year old daughter nearly hiked the whole way up herself. 

Dan Brewer, of Family Can Travel, enjoys an easy Kyoto hiking trail on Mt. Daimonji with his 3-year old daughter.

Depending on the day, you can get some pretty incredible views from the top of the Daimonji hike. Even if it’s cloudy, it’s still a lot of fun to see the fire pits they use to create the Obon festival bonfires.

The fire pits on Mt. Daimonji used for the bonfires in the Kyoto Obon festival.

Fun for the Kids on the Daimonji Hiking Trail

Our kids found some cool snails on this hike. See how many your kids can find!

A 3-year old girl examines a snail she found on an easy hike near Kyoto.

Hiking Stats for the Daimonji Hike

Each leg of this hike took our family approximately 40 minutes to complete (1 hour and 20 minutes round trip). We measured the Daimonji hike to be 1.9 miles / 3.1 km long and our total elevation gain was 1033 ft / 315 m. 

5. Kami-Daigoji

This is the longest and highest of our easy Kyoto hikes, so check the stats before attempting it. If you are physically capable, your efforts will be rewarded with a beautiful temple complex at the top with great views of the city.

The Daigoji Buddhist temple is split into two parts: a lower temple (Shimo-Daigo) and an upper temple (Kami-Daigoji). This easy hike takes you up the mountain to the upper complex.

To find the trailhead, stand in front of the main entrance to the lower temple and follow the road to your right. Take your first left and follow this path alongside the perimeter of the temple (watch for the famous 5 story pagoda between the trees!). Shortly after beginning the hike, you will come across the ticket office where you have to pay to enter the complex. 

A father carries his toddler in a backpack carrier while hiking in Kyoto on the Daigoji trail.

The hike to Kami Daigoji was definitely a workout. It starts out with a modest incline, but then then it turns into mostly steps and then switchbacks. At this stage it’s an uphill grind to get to the top, but at least there were plenty of small temples, benches and/or fallen over trees to stop at along the way for a rest. 

Celine Brewer enjoys an easy Kyoto hike to Kami Daigoji temple.
A happy 3-year old girl enjoys a family hike to the Kami Daigoji temple near Kyoto, Japan.

The Kami Daigoji temple complex was fun to explore and we found some benches in front of the main building to stop for a snack and enjoy the view and our surroundings. There was a great view from the highest temple and we were fortunate to see so many maple trees just starting to turn. 

The Family Can Travel team enjoys a snack after hiking to the Kami Daigoji during a family trip to Kyoto, Japan.

Fun Hiking Activity for Kids – Kami Daigoji Trail

We found an extremely well camouflaged brown frog along the side of the trail. See if your kids can find one too!

a well camouflaged brown frog seen on the easy Kyoto hike to the Kami Daigoji temple.

Hiking Stats – Kami Daigoji Hike

Starting from the trailhead near the Daigoji Buddhist temple, the 4 mile / 6.5 km round-trip took us approximately 3 hours to complete. Our total elevation gain was 2,109 feet / 643 m.

Practicalities for Hiking with Kids in Kyoto

Hiking with a Stroller in Kyoto

None of these hikes are stroller friendly, even for strollers with big sports wheels. Bring a carrier of some sort instead. We use the Deuter Kid Comfort 3 (good for kids up to 40 lbs). If your child is still a baby, another good option is an Ergo baby carrier, which we used often when our kids were smaller. If you must use a stroller, check out our blog post on family friendly walks in Kyoto.

How to Dress Hiking with Kids in Kyoto

Dress in layers. The temperature can be reasonably chilly in the mornings or in the deep shade of the forest, so you will want to bring jackets for everyone. But you will want to start shedding layers as the hikes start getting steep or the hot midday sun comes out.

Brings Lots of Water

Bring enough water for the family, especially if the kids are going to join in and do some hiking. These hikes can get hard and it’s easy to get thirsty in the hot Japan sun. We recommend bringing a few large water bladders tucked away in your backpack or carrier.

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Celine Brewer is a dedicated family travel blogger with a profound passion for helping families create unforgettable adventures together. Her blog blends captivating travel narratives with practical tips for family-friendly destinations and enjoying active travel with kids. As a mother of two, she understands the unique challenges of traveling with children and offers valuable insights to empower parents.

When Celine isn't traveling with her husband and two kids, she's either working on one of her three travel sites (Family Can Travel, Baby Can Travel and Travel Banff Canada) or out enjoying the majestic Canadian Rockies her family calls home.