Although most people travel to Osaka and surrounding areas to explore the cities, the nearby hiking trails are full of splendid scenery and offer a break from the concrete jungles of Japan. With mountain peaks, ancient forest and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Osaka is a wonderful place to bring your hiking boots and begin an adventure.
Here are some great hiking trails in Japan.
Hiking to the top of Mt. Kongo (1,125 meters) is a popular option for beginners and will take you through the Kongo Katsuragi range along the border of the Osaka and Nara prefectures. Along the Mt. Kongo ropeway to Mt. Kongo Station you’ll find the Katsuragi Shrine, the Chihaya Castle ruins and the Chihaya Nature and Astronomy Museum. If this isn’t enough, consider also hiking to the Temporinji Temple located on top of the mountain plateau. Although February is a chillier month to visit, it’s a great time to see trees glazed with ice as well as attending the Juhyo festival.
As the closest park to the city of Osaka, Mino Park makes an excellent place to visit without any difficulty and can be reached in less than 30-minutes from downtown Umeda. There are about three kilometers of hiking trails that take visitors through the valley and along the Minoo River to the very popular and beautiful Minoo waterfall. The park is a great place to witness the changing seasons with the most popular time being autumn. You may also see monkeys and deer along with over 3,000 species of insects. Mino Park also houses a number of ancient temples as well as the Mino Insect Museum. It is also the starting point for the popular Tokai Natural Trail. You can read more about Mino Park by clicking here.
Laced with a number of UNESCO World Heritage sites, the hiking trails around Mount Koyo are a great place to get into nature and experience ancient history at the same time. The main parts of the mountain are easily accessible by train and there are many different trails for exploring on foot. Some of the most famous sites include the Mausoleum of Kukai and the neighboring graveyard, the Garan Temple complex, and the Kongōbu-ji Temple, which features an impressive stone garden.
Mount Yoshino is a wooded temple town and another UNESCO World Heritage area in the Kii Mountain Range. It is also the most famous area in Japan for viewing the cherry blossoms in early April. If you can’t make it there in early spring for the cherry blossoms, you’ll still find a number of important religious and pilgrimage sites including Kimpu Shrine, Yoshino Mikumari Shrine, and Kimpusen-ji. Mount Yoshino is also a good starting point for a more difficult trail that leads to Mount Omine.
As you can see, there is a lot more to Japan than cities. Adding some hikes to your itinerary will allow you to explore the wilderness and some ancient pilgrimage sites as well as give you a beautiful view of the four seasons. After grabbing a cheap hotel in Osaka, lace up your hiking boots and head out into the Japanese wilderness.
This article is always being updated. If you have another hiking trail you’d like mentioned, please let me know in the comments below!