Tranquility Unveiled : Discovering the Beauty of Mt. Shigi and its Enchanting Surroundings in Nara

Feb 20, 2024

Tranquility Unveiled : Discovering the Beauty of Mt. Shigi and its Enchanting Surroundings in Nara

Nestled in the picturesque landscape of Nara Prefecture, Mt. Shigi stands as a symbol of natural beauty, cultural richness, and spiritual serenity. This majestic mountain, with its lush greenery and historical significance, offers a captivating escape from the urban hustle.

As we embark on a journey to explore Mt. Shigi and its surrounding wonders, let’s delve into the various facets that make this destination truly exceptional.


1. Access to Mt. Shigi

For those seeking a scenic journey to Mt. Shigi, the Kintetsu Railway network provides a convenient and picturesque route.

From Tokyo, take the Shinkansen to Nagoya and transfer to the Kintetsu Limited Express to Nara.

Osaka and Kyoto travelers can access Nara directly from the Kintetsu Namba or Kyoto Stations.

From Nagoya, the Kintetsu Nagoya Line offers a direct route to Nara.

The Kintetsu Railway ensures a comfortable and efficient journey, allowing travelers to witness the changing landscapes as they approach the enchanting Mt. Shigi.

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2. Best season to visit Mt. Shigi

While Mt. Shigi captivates visitors throughout the year, spring stands out as the pinnacle of its beauty.

Late March to early April heralds the arrival of cherry blossoms, transforming the mountain into a mesmerizing sea of delicate pink and white blooms. The air is filled with the sweet fragrance of cherry blossoms, creating an ethereal atmosphere that is truly enchanting.

The spring season not only enhances the visual appeal of Mt. Shigi, but also provides a perfect climate for exploring its trails and cultural treasures.

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3. Cherry blossoms at Mt. Shigi

Reference : https://www.sigisan.or.jp/press/

Witnessing cherry blossoms at Mt. Shigi is a breathtaking experience that lingers in the hearts of visitors. As the cherry blossoms bloom, the entire mountainside becomes a canvas of soft pastel hues.

Trails adorned with sakura trees create a tunnel of blossoms, offering a serene and immersive stroll.

Visitors are encouraged to bring a picnic and enjoy the ephemeral beauty of the cherry blossoms, as the petals gently fall, creating a poetic dance in the mountain breeze.

Whether capturing the perfect photograph or simply basking in the fleeting beauty, Mt. Shigi during cherry blossom season is a moment frozen in time.

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4. A zen spot at Mt. Shigi: Gyokuzo-in Temple

At the heart of Mt. Shigi lies Gyokuzo-in Temple, a venerable Zen sanctuary steeped in history and spiritual resonance.

Established in the 8th century, this temple radiates tranquility and invites visitors to immerse themselves in the practice of Zen Buddhism. The temple’s architecture reflects traditional Japanese aesthetics, harmonizing seamlessly with the surrounding natural beauty.

Gyokuzo-in Temple offers a unique experience for those seeking a deeper connection with the spiritual essence of Mt. Shigi. The temple provides ‘shukubo’ accommodation facilities, allowing guests to partake in the monastic lifestyle and engage in Zen meditation sessions.

Staying at Gyokuzo-in Temple offers not only a peaceful retreat but also an opportunity to understand the principles of Zen Buddhism through firsthand experience. The temple is revered for its serene atmosphere and the chance to participate in the temple’s daily rituals.

Gyokuzo-in Temple’s Official Website

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5. Meet the Giant Lucky Tiger at Chogosonshi-ji Temple

A short distance from Mt. Shigi, Chogosonshi-ji Temple stands as a cultural marvel, boasting the largest papier-mâché tiger in Japan. Founded in the 8th century, the temple is not only a repository of history but also a beacon of good fortune.

The giant tiger, intricately crafted from papier-mâché, is a symbol of luck and protection, captivating the imagination of visitors.

Reference : https://www.sigisan.or.jp/press/

Chogosonshi-ji Temple offers an adventurous experience known as Kaidan Meguri, a journey through a dark and winding underground passage. This symbolic journey is believed to represent the cycle of life and rebirth, echoing the Buddhist philosophy ingrained in the temple’s teachings.

As visitors emerge from the tunnel, they encounter the awe-inspiring Tiger Tunnel nearby Senju-in Temple, which is a pathway framed by the jaws of the giant tiger.

This surreal passage symbolizes the triumph of courage over adversity and is thought to bring good fortune to those who traverse it. Beyond the giant tiger, Chogosonshi-ji Temple stands as a testament to the cultural tapestry of Nara.

Chogosonshi-ji Temple’s Official Website

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6. Other Amazing Attractions Near Mt. Shigi

6.1 Senju-in Temple

Reference : https://www.senjyuin.or.jp/

Senju-in, the main temple, holds the distinction of being the oldest and most esteemed sub-temple (Tatchu) on Mount Shigi. The Tatchu structure signifies a temple arrangement where multiple branch temples share a common main hall.

In the Goma-do Hall, Bishamonten is enshrined, the Kannon-do Hall houses Eleven-faced Kannon, the Zenigame-do Hall is dedicated to Zenigame Zenshin, and the Daikoku Hall venerates Senju Kannon. The sacred Goma ritual for Bishamonten has been consistently and diligently practiced without interruption up to the present day.

Senju-in on Mount Shigi serves as the primary dojo for the Great Wisdom Prayer and Bishamonten Goma, providing a sacred space for offering prayers to Bishamonten for various requests. It stands as the oldest temple lodging on the mountain, welcoming visitors to stay and immerse themselves in its spiritual atmosphere.

Senju-in Temple’s Official Webiste

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6.2 Jyofuku-in Temple

Reference : https://jyofukuin.jp/

Shingisan Jyofuku-in Temple serves as the main temple for the Shingisan Shingon sect, nestled at the heart of Mount Shigi, seamlessly blending tradition and modernity within the historical backdrop of the mountain.

Mount Shigi in Yamato Province holds the distinction of being the sacred mountain where Prince Shotoku established Japan’s first Bishamonten (Vaisravana), the guardian deity. Bishamonten is said to appear during the year of the tiger, on a tiger day, and in the tiger hour.

Revered as one of the Seven Lucky Gods, he is sought after for blessings of prosperity in business, good fortune, and the fulfillment of various wishes. Since then, Bishamonten on Mount Shigi has been venerated as a deity associated with the tiger. The temple warmly welcomes daily individual worship and prayers, attracting many business owners and entrepreneurs seeking divine blessings.

The “Nyoi Hoshu” enshrined in the “Yusoden” is believed to have originally resided within the treasure pagoda wielded by Bishamonten, the main deity of Mount Shigi, bringing forth boundless treasures. This belief is one of the reasons why many individuals pray for success in their endeavors.

Jyofuku-in Temple’s Official Webiste

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6.3 Kaiunkyo Bridge

Reference : https://www.sigisan.or.jp/press/

Adding a touch of architectural elegance to the natural beauty of Mt. Shigi is the Kaiunkyo Bridge.

This picturesque bridge spans across the Shigi-Ikoma-Kisen Quasi-National Park, connecting the realms of myth and reality.

Crossing the bridge, visitors are treated to breathtaking views of the lush landscapes and the majestic Mt. Shigi in the backdrop, creating an ideal spot for contemplation and photography.

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7. Tips When Traveling to Mt. Shigi

  • Seasonal Planning : If possible, plan your visit during the spring season to witness the enchanting cherry blossoms in full bloom. The vibrant colors and fragrant air create a truly magical experience.
  • Comfortable Footwear : As exploring Mt. Shigi involves walking along trails and visiting various temples, wearing comfortable footwear is essential. Ensure your shoes are suitable for both leisurely strolls and uneven terrain.
  • Cultural Respect : When visiting temples, especially Gyokuzo-in and Chogosonshi-ji, observe the customs of the place. Speak softly, refrain from loud behavior, and participate respectfully in any rituals or ceremonies.
  • Camera and Binoculars : Capture the scenic beauty of Mt. Shigi and its surroundings by bringing a camera. Binoculars can also enhance your experience, allowing you to appreciate the details of the landscapes and wildlife.
  • Local Cuisine : Explore the local culinary delights in Nara, known for its delicious regional specialties. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor traditional Japanese cuisine, including local delicacies like kakinoha sushi and kudzu-based dishes.
  • Weather Preparedness : Check the weather forecast before your trip and pack accordingly.


As you embark on a journey to Mt. Shigi and its captivating surroundings, you step into a world where nature and culture converge in perfect harmony. The cherry blossoms announce the arrival of spring, creating a magical experience on the mountain slopes.

Gyokuzo-in Temple and Chogosonshi-ji Temple offer moments of reflection and cultural immersion, each with its unique significance. The nearby attractions of Senju-in Temple, Jofuku-in Temple, and Kaiunkyo Bridge add layers to the rich tapestry of Mt. Shigi’s cultural heritage.

With the convenience of the Kintetsu Railway network, this destination invites travelers to immerse themselves in the timeless beauty of Nara, leaving with memories etched in the tranquility of Mt. Shigi.

Mt. Shigi’s Map

Kintetsu Railway Official Website

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