A spacious wooden observation deck, Seiryuden Oobutai offers spectacular views of Kyoto
The Shogunzuka Seiryuden is located on the mountaintop of Higashiyama, Kyoto. Now It’s best known for its observation decks which offer spectacular panoramic views over the city of Kyoto below.
Seiryuden is a large wooden structure by the Shogunzuka Mound, built by Emperor Kanmu when the capital was moved to Kyoto. Seiryuden, the great goma hall, where the National Treasure “Ao Fudo” is worshipped is a part of Shorenin Temple at the bottom of the mountain. Goma (small pieces of wood to invoke divine help) burning takes place to pray for people’s requests.
A wooden observation deck “Oobutai” has been built along with Seiryuden. Now from the mountaintop of Higashiyama, visitors can look out over northern Kyoto all the way to Mt. Hieizan. The spacious wooden deck is nearly 220 meters above the city. With a map, you can easily pick out the locations of tourist destinations such as the Imperial palace, Nijo Castle, Heian-Jingu Shrine, and Nanzen-ji Temple from high above.
In April 2015, the art installation Glass Teahouse was opened on the wooden observation deck. The transparent unique structure is a modern exploration of traditional Japanese culture designed by artist Yoshioka Tokujin as part of the 50th anniversary of the sister-city relationship between Kyoto and Florence, Italy.
On the west side of the grounds, there is the older observation deck about 10 meters above ground. This deck offers views toward central Kyoto and out to Osaka on a clear day.
The Seiryuden garden next to Shogunzuka is a strolling style garden with beautiful plants and flowers such as maple trres, cherry trees, weeping peach trees, wisterias, rhododendrons, and azaleathat includes a Karesansui (Japanese rock garden). The garden is noted particularly for its cherry blossoms (about 200 trees) in spring and Japanese maple trees (about 220 trees) for autumn color.
Open : 9:00 to 17:00
Admission : 500 yen
Access : Take a taxi (5-mins about 1,000 yen) from Keage station on the subway Tozai line
Bus : The Keihan bus(no.70) is in service on Saturdays, Sundays, national holidays, every day in November, and during consecutive holidays in April and May. You can take bus no.70 from Sanjo Keihan, Shijo Kawaramachi, Gojo Keihan, Gojozaka, Jingu-do, Keage
Alternatively, hiking trails lead up the mountain to the Shogunzuka Mound. One trail starts around the corner from Shorenin Temple. Another trail leads up the mountain from a trail behind Chionin Temple and Maruyama Park. Neither trail is easily found. The hike up to the mound is quite steep and takes about 30-45 minutes. Proper shoes are recommended.
In spring, visitors can enjoy a fantastic view of lit-up cherry blossom in the night.