Nara’s Wakakusa Mountain Has the Perfect Trail for Active Travelers
Take our guide!
Nara Park Office
Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., from 17 March to 8 Dec, 2018
(Days will change yearly: the third Saturday of March until the second Sunday of December.)
Wakakusa Mountain is the symbol of the city of Nara. When the mountain opens to the public, visitors can climb up to its peak. In this article, we’ll walk you through a hiking course up the mountain.
The hike will take approximately 90 minutes. For a 4.8 km walk and up 342 m, it’s a fairly easy climb up to the mountain because paths are installed. On a scale of 1-5, the difficulty of the course is at 2.
10 AM - Wakakusa Mountain South Gate
The Wakakusa Mountain South Gate is one of two gates that lead into the mountain. This is where you can pay for your entrance ticket (¥150). From this point until the peak, there are no toilets, so it’s highly recommended to use the toilet beside the gate before you begin climbing the mountain!
You’ll be able to see the Todai-ji Temple and the Five-Storied Pagoda at the first station (270 m elevation).
11 AM - Wakakusa Mountain Peak
The 342 m point, known as the third station, is the top of the mountain. It has a wonderful view of the vast, ancient city of Nara. It’s a popular spot to watch the sunset and bask in the nighttime. Another great thing about reaching to the top of Wakakusa Mountain is that you get to enjoy the view with the deer.
This viewing deck lets you see the sprawling panorama of Nara City.
11:30 AM - Kasuga Mountain Path
From the top of Wakakusa Mountain, you can access Kasuga Mountain. The vast virgin forest of Kasuga Mountain is a World Heritage site, so try not to stray off the Kasuga Mountain Path! The Kasuga Grand Shrine is also located here, which is why it is considered a holy mountain - its natural beauty remains untouched and gives off a mystical vibe. From the Kamatogi Police Box on Kasuga Mountain’s entrance, it is around 2.3 km to the bottom of the mountain.
Kasuga Mountain boasts 2,500,000 m2 of an untouched forest at a 498 m elevation.
11:40 - Nakamizuya Rest Stop
This rest stop is located at the 260 m elevation point, which is 800 m down from the Kamaken Police Box. There is a small waterfall and benches here, so you can rest leisurely while listening to the sound of falling water.
12:05 PM - Tsukihitei Rest Stop
The rest stop is located in front of Tsukihitei Ryokan (Japanese-style inn) that specializes in food. There are many maple trees here, as well as other greenery that surrounds you while you rest. Soon, you’ll be able to reach the Kasuga Grand Shrine!
Feel free to eat from your lunch boxes here.
Kasuga Grand Shrine Café and Shop Kaon
Kasuga Taisha Museum 1 F, Hino Town 160, Nara City, Nara Prefecture
Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, while the Café is open until 4:30 p.m.
Kasuga Grand Shrine Café and Shop Kaon opened in 2016, during the renewal of the Kasuga Taisha Museum. The open interiors were designed with the idea of Kasuga Mountains’ virgin forest in mind, and you can taste food and sweets made from Nara’s local ingredients.
The Shiki Gozen (¥1,600) dish, pictured above, is served at the Café. It is one dish among many being served there, including the Nara Takikomi Rice (Rice cooked with meat and vegetables) and the Miwa Somen noodles, which are served as a set.
Soft-serve ice-cream (¥400) is available for take-out. Aside from Matcha flavor (left) and Milk (right), seasonal flavors (¥450) are available as well.
The Museum Shop also sells original merchandise, among other items.
Nature photographer Hitomi Nakatsuta also gives advice on how to take great photos in a natural setting by maximizing natural elements.
In emphasizing the plant-life around you, you may choose to take a shot with the sun shining through the leaves.
If the weather is fair, you might want to try a shot like this.
Look up from below, and show the largeness of the tree,” recommends Nakatsuta. Doing so helps capture the impact of your surroundings. Additionally, don’t be afraid to take photos of the deer, but move slowly so you don’t frighten them when you try to snap their picture!
Be assertive in taking photos of the deer!
Provided by Kansai Walker™, Japan Walker™ and Walkerplus™ (17 May 2018)