Most shouzan will begin when a kingdom's kirin is believed to have reached maturity and will continue until the kirin has chosen a new monarch or has left Mt. Hou to independently seek out the kingdom's would-be monarch. People in kingdoms suffering from great calamity without a ruler may begin approaching the kirin sooner, forcing a kirin such as the current Enki to mature at a younger age in order to select a new monarch.
A person may only ascend Mt. Hou and attempt a shouzan once in their lifetime. Pilgrims usually begin their journey by crossing on the four gates that lead to Mt. Hou. Each of the gates open once a year at a different time, either at one of the seasonal equinoxes or solstices, and are known as the Day of Safe Passage. Though a pilgrim does not have to ascend when a gate is open, ascending Mt. Hou through a gate is usually the easiest method.