Hiking Distance: 11.5km
Time: 6-8 hours
Elevation gain: 670m
Yatsubuchi no Taki
Yatsubuchi no Taki is an exciting waterfall hike that leads up to Mt. Bunagatake and offers nice views over lake Biwa. Easily one of the best hikes near Kyoto, the hike is famous for its 8 waterfalls featuring chains, ropes, and steps bolted into the rock so you can climb up the riverbed. Mt Bunagatake is 1,214m tall and an optional part of this trail as there is a nearby viewpoint that offers a similar reward.
Car, or Train & Bus
The bus to the trailhead departs from Omi-Takashima Station and takes around 25 minutes to arrive at Gulliver's Village. The bus only runs on Saturdays and public holidays, departing at 9:04, 9:29 and 10:28am, you can view the timetable here. The train and bus is preferred as you can end the trail at an onsen. If you go by car you will need to return to the trailhead after reaching the viewpoint.
Trail head: Google Maps
Kyoto: Omi-Takashima station is 40 minutes from Kyoto and the train costs ¥860.
Osaka: Omi-Takashima is 1 hour 10 mins from Osaka and the train costs ¥1520.
Once you arrive at Gulliver's Village walk up the road and take the path to the left of the yellow box, soon you will find the start of the trail along with a map and warning signs. Regarding the risks, I have done this hike twice with people who have never hiked before, so long as you're careful and take your time you will be okay - there's an alternative path that avoids the waterfall climbs if it looks too difficult for you.
The river crossings and rock climbing sections are amazing, really beautiful and a lot of fun. This continues for about 1-2 hours depending on your pace. Keep your eye out for the pink trail markers and be careful with slippery rocks.
After the waterfall climbing, you return to a normal hiking trail with some steep sections. Eventually you will reach the top where the trail opens up into a grassy area, head right for the little ponds and some trails leading to Mt. Bunagatake (2 hour return detour), or head left for an easier viewpoint that leads to the second half of the hike.
Once you reach this viewpoint, continue descending into the valley and after another 2 hours, you'll reach a nice camping area. Keep walking until you reach the road, from this road it's a 30 minute walk into town to get to the onsen - the perfect end to a day of hiking. There's a free bus to the station if you use the onsen, the last bus departs at 5:55pm, and the onsen is open until 9pm.
Weather and Seasons
Summer and autumn are the best times for this hike. Be careful if there has been a lot of rain as there will be river crossings. The autumn leaves are at their best at the end of October. There might be snow hanging around until April.