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The Best Day Hikes Near
Kyoto & Osaka

Overview

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.

The 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.

The Best Spring Hikes

Hands down the best spring hike is Yoshinoyama if it's 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.

kurama to kibune snow.jpg

The 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.

The 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 the Jingo-ji trail and Yatsubuchi no Taki. 

The 10 best day hikes near Kyoto & Osaka

  Nara  

​↠  Mt. Omine

​↠  Yoshinoyama

  Shiga  

​↠  The Konze Alps

↠  Bunagatake & Yatsubuchi no taki

  Kyoto  

​↠  Jingo-ji to Arashiyama

​↠  Mt. Hiei

​↠  Kurama to Kibune

​↠  Daimonji

  Kobe  

​↠  Umanose

​↠  Mt. Rokko to Arima Onsen

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Autumn colours along the Jingo-ji trail

Accommodation

Kyoto and Osaka are very popular destinations, so the best accommodation can often be booked out months in advance. Book early to avoid high prices and ensure you get a nice location.

 

The best prices are usually found on booking.com

Click here to check availability now!

Useful Links

Omine
omine.jpg

大峰山

Mt. Omine,  Nara

Elevation: 1719m

View Trail

Crowds

2/5

Distance

14 km

Elevation Change

 ➘  950m loss

Time

7-8 Hours

Difficulty

3/5

Accomodation

Ryokans & Campsites

Trail Summary 

Elevation Gain

➚ 950m

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.

View The Full Trail Guide

Gallery

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吉野山

Yoshinoyama,  Nara

Elevation: 700m

View Trail

Crowds

4/5

Distance

11+ km

Elevation Change

400m - 700m

Time

5-9 Hours

Difficulty

3/5

Accomodation

​Ryokans

Yoshinoyama

Trail Summary 

Yoshinoyama is a mountain town in the south of Nara prefecture, the mountain is famous for its cherry blossoms (sakura), featuring thousands of cherry trees, hiking trails, and temples. Hiking here during the peak cherry blossom period is an incredible experience unlike anything else in the world. It does gets very crowded during this time, but there are many trails that detour into the forest so it's quite easy to escape the crowds and explore the mountain. The summer is also beautiful as the vibrant and lush green landscape provides an adventurous atmosphere among the many temples and shrines. The town is also quite beautiful, filled with charming shops, ryokans, and restaurants.

​The hiking here can be as easy or as difficult as you like, if you stick to the normal paths and only go to the main viewpoint, then you could finish in 4 hours. 

Elevation Gain

➚ ​400m - 700m

View The Full Trail Guide

Gallery

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金勝

Konze Alps,  Shiga

Elevation: 605m

View Trail

Crowds

3/5

Distance

6.5 km

Elevation Change

 ➘  400m