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When it comes to Nara Prefecture, visitors usually mention ancient temples and pagodas such as Todaiji and Horyuji, lovely deers and peaceful parks. However, Nara has more than those famous places. If you travel to Japan in May, you should try a one-day hike to Katsuragi Mountain, which is located not far from Osaka. May is its peak season with the beauty of Azalea flowers which turn the mountain into a deep red.
Katsuragi is 959m above sea level. It is a safe mountain with well-maintained hiking trails to climb which takes around 2 hours from the mountain entrance to the peak. The difficulty level is A which is for beginners. You do not need any special gears to climb this mountain. In fact, many families bring their children with them to hike Katsuragi and enjoy the beauty of Azalea in May.
From Osaka, there are two ways to reach the Tozanguchi cable car station, from where you will find the mountain entrance gate.
Here is the address of Tozanguchi station on google maps:
►If you travel by train from Osaka, find trains to Kintetsu Gose station, in which there are many buses that will take you to the Tozanguchi station. Buses depart at gate 3 in every 15-20 minutes. The earliest one departs at 8:40 am and will take you to cable car station at around 9.00. One way ticket costs 290 yen. We recommend you to take the first bus because it is quite crowded in its peak season.
►If you travel by car, you can reach Tozanguchi station quite easily and there is a large parking lot near the station.
►If you do not want to hike, you can take the ropeway to the station near the peak and then walk 20 minutes to the peak. The price for a roundtrip ticket is 1250 yen and 740 yen for one way.
The mountain gate for the ‘Kujira no taki course’ (3.7km)- the easiest hiking route is just 300m next to the Tozanguchi station. There is another route which is steeper than the first one, which is called ‘North Ridge trail’ (3km). Entering the mountain gate, go straight 100m and turn right, you will get into the ‘North Trail’. Our recommendation is to take the Kujira trail when climbing up and the North trail when descending. By doing so, you can enjoy both beautiful hiking course within 4 hours. The last bus from Tozanguchi station is 18:02 pm so make sure that you will not miss the bus otherwise you have to walk 3km to Gose station.
You should bring 1 liter of water or isotonic water and some snacks because it is very hot in May and you will heavily sweat and be dehydrated while climbing up steep roads. After 1.5-2 hours from the mountain gate, you will reach magnificent azalea plateau which will definitely blow away your exhausted feeling. Having lunch at the peak and enjoying the wonderful scenery of Katsuragi will be one of your best experiences in Japan.
Here are some tips while go hiking in Japan. Firstly, say Konnichiwa to people passing you. You will notice that Japanese people love greeting to others as a way to encourage people not to give up halfway. Secondly, always give way to people who are climbing down if you are going down, even though you are in a rush. Thirdly, enjoy onsen after hiking a mountain. Japanese always go to the onsen to relax and avoid getting pain in muscles the day after because hot spring will help release your muscles strain. Last but not least, enjoy hot delicious Rairaitei Ramen restaurant near Gose station.
We leave you the address of this famous ramen restaurant here. You deserve a tasty meal after a hard-working day!