Discover the Origin of the Japanese Spirit, Found Deep within the Mountains of Nara.
Located in the southern part of Nara Prefecture, "Yoshinoyama" is known as one of the most famous cherry blossom viewing spots in Japan. Yoshino Mountain is covered with over 30,000 cherry trees which bloom in the spring, blanketing the entire mountainside in shades of pink. Although at its most spectacular in sakura season, Yoshino is also resplendant in colour during Autumn, when you have great views of the Autumn foliage all around you.
This tour involves 5 hours of walking along the mountain path of Yoshino while your guide tells you stories of the history and culture of Yoshino. There are no very steep slopes, but the entire journey will be about 8 km, so it's a tour for those who are ok with walking.
① Meet up with the guide at Yamato Kamiichi
You will join the guide at Yamato Kamiichi Station and head for Miyataki Falls by bus (15 minutes). From the bus stop, you will stroll through a small countryside village before entering an ancient cedar forest.
② Hike through the forest
Inside the forest, listen to the tinkle of the "elephant stream" (Kisa Stream), that was written about in the ancient Manyoshu (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves), a famous anthology of poems compiled in the Nara Period (710 AD). You can stop at the Sakuragi Shrine with the impressive Yae Bridge along the way.
③ Meditate by a relaxing waterfall
As you hike further into the forest, the path veers off to the right and takes you to a tall yet fairly calm waterfall. Climb over the rocks at the base of the falls and ponder your connection to nature, relax in the fresh air of the forest.
④ Arrive at Mt. Yoshino
Emerge from the trail on the edge of Mt. Yoshino. From the end of March to the middle of April, beautiful cherry blossoms will spread out to form a wonderful scenery unique to this world heritage site that covers historic buildings and mountains. In November, the Fall leaves will delight you with their vivid hues.
Shugendo is a religion mixing the beliefs of Shinto mountain worship with Buddhism. It means ""the way to spiritual power through discipline". They believe that mountains are sacred places where gods dwell and where the ancestral spirits watch over their descendants. The followers are known as "yamabushi", or mountain hermits. Mt. Yoshino was one area where Shugendo was practised hundreds of years ago, and the Kinpusenji Temple pays testament to these beliefs.
⑤ Chikurin-in Temple
Chikurin-in is a Buddhist Temple which has been turned into a Japanese inn, booking out a year in advance of sakura season. You will take a short stroll around the expansive gardens which were designed by famous tea master Sen-no-Rikyu.
⑥ Kinpusenji Temple
Kinpusenji is the head temple of the Shugendo religion and can be seen towering above the landscape from many vantage points on the mountain. It is the second largest wooden structure in Japan behind the Todaiji Temple also in Nara, standing a whooping 34m high. Inside the hall are three reincarnations of Buddha, displaying rage and fury at the state of the world. They represent the past, present and future Buddha and are over 1300 years old. There are also other ancient treasures and sculptures on display inside.
You will stroll along a pedestrian road filled with many shops and restaurants and eat somewhere your guide recommends based on your personal preferences. We recommend the sushi wrapped in the local delicacy, persimmon leaf.
⑧ Head down the mountain to Yoshino Station
After lunch you will walk for about 30 minutes, go down the mountain, and the tour ends at Yoshino Station. Listen carefully to the great nature and enjoy the day together with all things natural while feeling the past cultural peoples and warlords who have followed the same path.
· Scenic view of the beautiful Yoshino River from the Miyataki Falls Bridge.
· Old fashioned Japanese rural landscape along the Elephant (kisa) Stream.
· Seasonal nature surrounding Yoshino mountain.
· Magnificent Zao Hall and Statues.
· Explanation of Yoshino's nature and history by local guides.
・Please come wearing comfortable shoes and clothing.
・In the case of poor weather, this tour is subject to cancellation.
¥10,000（Adult: 2 Persons or more）
|Duration||5 hours (approx)|
|Hours of availability||
Start Time: 10:20 am.
・English guide / Bus ticket
・Food & Drinks / Hotel pick up & drop off
Yamato-Kamiichi station, ticket gate
Historic and Natural Guided Hike in Yoshino
Our guide, Barbara, was warm, friendly and personable. She knew the area well and was able to tell us about the history of the region and Yoshinoyama, in particular. She was able to adjust the tour to suit our physical constraints and went out of her way to help when some souvenirs were misplaced.