Hiking Distance: 4 - 13 km
Time: 1-2 Days
Elevation Gain: 220m - 610m
The Best Day Hikes Near
Kyoto & Osaka
Kyoto and Osaka are major destinations for expats, students, and travellers, but most of us don't own a car, so here's a list of the best day hikes accessible by public transport. This list is in no particular order as each hike offers something different, but it's worth noting that these hikes have been carefully selected because for many people, not all hikes are worth their time and effort. So read on, for this is not a generic top ten list! There are a lot of mountains in Kansai, so we'll update this page if new contenders are found, this list is showcasing our favourite Kansai hikes after exploring the region for many years.
Weather & Seasons
Generally speaking, the best seasons for hiking are mid-spring, summer and autumn. These seasons offer the best scenery as the forests are full of life, with vibrant green landscapes during summer and colourful mountainsides during autumn. Winter can offer some beautiful snowy hiking, but often requires extra gear and knowledge.
Best Winter Hikes
For easy snowy hikes, Kurama and Mt. Hiei can offer some of the most beautiful scenery with very little effort, anyone can do these hikes. Fresh snow makes the trails and temples look absolutely amazing, due to their modest, easy terrain they're perfect for snowy days without any special gear required, and Mt. Hiei has a nice cable car that looks gorgeous on a snowy day. If you're experienced and want something more technical, the Omine and Bunagatake hikes will have the most snow, so require extra care and planning.
Best Spring Hikes
Hands down the best spring hike is Yoshinoyama during the peak cherry blossom period, which usually occurs in the first week of April. Timing is key, so keep an eye on the cherry blossom forecast and try to be spontaneous with your planning. The main paths get very busy, but there are plenty of side trails among the cherry blossom forests to escape the crowds. Other hikes ideal for spring are low elevation trails such as Umanose, Jingo-ji, and Daimon-ji.
Best Summer Hikes
Summer is notoriously humid and hot in Japan, but some hikes can be great for warm days. Yatsubuchi no Taki, Mt. Omine, the Konze Alps, and Jingo-ji all feature nice clean rivers where you can swim after or during your hike.
Best Autumn Hikes
Autumn is often considered the best season for hiking in Japan due to the mild temperatures and colourful autumn leaves. The best hikes for autumn colours are Jingo-ji to Arashiyama, and Yatsubuchi no Taki.
The 10 best day hikes near Kyoto & Osaka
↠ Mt. Omine
↠ Mt. Hiei
Autumn colours along the Jingo-ji trail
Mt. Omine is a sacred mountain in Nara prefecture and can be accessed by Dorogawa onsen. Mt. Omine is somewhat controversial for having UNESCO Work Heritage status as it also maintains an 800 year old ban on women, due to religious tradition. However, there are other beautiful trails in the same town and the surrounding mountains offer equally impressive views. The name of the peak is Sanjogatake and it can be completed in a day, there is also the option of a larger loop trail if you have enough time. You can read more about the mountain's cultural history on Wikipedia. In regards to the ban on women, hopefully this will change in the future, I would recommend directing your complaints and protests to UNESCO as they will be a more effective avenue than arguing with the Shugendo priests who occupy the mountain.
Access: Train & Bus
You'll need to catch the 6am train to Shimoichi-guchi station, which is just under 2 hours from Kyoto and Osaka. From Shimoichi-guchi, catch an 8:20am bus to Dorogawa onsen. Make sure to plan your return carefully, as the last bus from Dorogawa is at 5:58pm. You can view the bus timetable here.
Carpark for the trailhead: Google Maps
Shimoichi-guchi Station: Google Maps
GPS map: outdooractive.com