Mount Yoshino is a 350-meter tall mountain in the town of Yoshino in Nara Prefecture. It is one of Japan’s most important heritage sites, with a popular pilgrimage trail that has been in existence for several centuries now. Along with Kumano and Mount Koya, it is one of the three UNESCO World Heritage Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range.
Best Time To Go To Mount Yoshino
All year round, Mount Yoshino is beautiful and captivating.
In the summer months, it is a popular spot for pilgrims as it serves as the base to the sacred Mount Omine.
In winter, its ryokan and onsen are highly recommended to anyone who wants to experience authentic traditional Japanese life, and relax in the warm and relaxing natural hot spring waters.
In autumn, the mountain’s dense and lush forests transform into bright hues of red, yellow, and orange, creating a visual spectacle of autumn foliage.
In spring, it is a sight to behold as the more than 30,000 cherry trees that grow on its slopes form a stunning display of sakura flowers in full bloom, making it one of the best cherry blossom viewing spots in the country.
Access To Mount Yoshino
Mount Yoshino is easily accessible from various major cities in Japan.
If you are coming from Tokyo, you can take the Shinkansen to either Kyoto or Osaka.
If you go to Kyoto, you can ride the Kintetsu express train to Yoshino, with one transfer at Kashiharajingu-mae Station. On the other hand, if you go to Osaka, you can ride the Kintetsu direct express train.
The easiest way to get from Kyoto to Yoshino is by taking the Kintetsu express train. It requires one transfer at Kashiharajingu-mae Station, takes two hours and 10 minutes, and costs 1,230 yen.
From Osaka, there are Kintetsu direct express trains that connect Osaka Abenobashi Station and Yoshino. The one-way ride takes about an hour and a half, and costs 970 yen.
To Mount Yoshino:
From Yoshino Station, you can walk, take the Yoshino Ropeway, or ride a bus to Mount Yoshino. During sakura season, usually from the end of March to the beginning of May, there are shuttle buses that depart 2 to 4 times an hour from Yoshino Station to some of the temples on the mountains.
Top Attractions Near Mount Yoshino
- Yoshimizu Shrine
Founded in the 8th century, Yoshimizu Shrine is a Shinto Shrine on Mount Yoshino. It used to be a center of Shugendo worship, and is dedicated to Japan’s 96th emperor, Emperor Go-Daigo, and 14-century samurai legend, Kusunoki Masashige. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, it offers fantastic views of the cherry trees and the town below.
To get there, walk 20 minutes from the Yoshino Ropeway upper station.
- Nyoirinji Temple
A medium-sized Buddhist temple, Nyoirinji Temple is the site of Emperor Go-Daigo’s mausoleum. Established in the 10th century, the grounds cover a vast area that include a tahoto-style pagoda, and a family treasure house, which holds numerous paintings, religious items, and artifacts that belonged to the emperor’s court.
To get there, you have to walk to the other side of the valley, which is about 45 minutes from the Yoshino Ropeway upper station.
- Chikurin-in Temple
An ancient Buddhist temple, Chikurin-in Temple is an important Shugendo worship site. In the old times, it served as a refuge for pilgrims and practitioners of the Shugendo mountain worship, and, nowadays, it is operates as a ryokan that accepts travelers and explorers looking for a traditional Japanese lodging experience. The temple complex also has an attractive landscape garden called Gunpoen, which has a big pond and numerous cherry trees.
To get there, walk about 30 minutes from the Yoshino Ropeway upper station.
- Kinpusenji Temple
The main temple of Yoshino, Kinpusenji Temple is a 7th century UNESCO World Heritage temple that is considered one of the most important Shugendo sites in Japan. It is famous for its 34-meter high Zao-do Hall, which is said to be the second biggest wooden structure in the country after the Todaiji Temple in Nara. It also has three 1,300-year-old, seven-meter high statues that embody Buddha.
To get there, the walk from Yoshino Ropeway upper station takes about 10 minutes.
Accommodations Near Mount Yoshino
There are several ryokan found in Yoshino that offer easy access to the different attractions in the area. Some of the highly-rated ones are:
- Chikurin-in Gunpoen – This ryokan is open to local and foreign guests who want to experience what it is like to spend a night or two in a Japanese-style accommodation. It also has open-air baths with picturesque views of the valley. Official website: http://www.chikurin.co.jp/e/home.htm
- Yumoto Honoya – This is a ryokan located in the middle of town. It offers guest rooms with fantastic views of the mountain, outdoor hot spring baths that overlook the valley, and in-room meals consist of some of Japan’s best. Official website: http://www.hounoya.gr.jp/eng/index.php
- Ryokan Kato – This is a family-operated ryokan located a few minutes’ walk from the ropeway station. It has Japanese-style rooms, a bath, a tea room, and easy access to the mountain and its ancient temples. Official website: http://www.kato-yoshino.jp/en/
Dining Near Mount Yoshino
Yoshino boasts of restaurants that offer a diverse menu of Japanese cuisine.
- Tofu Chaya Hayashi – This restaurant is located on the town’s main street, with stunning views of the mountain and forests. Many of its dishes feature tofu, but there are also several others that have vegetables, meat, and other fresh ingredients. Official website: http://www.yoshinoyama-tofu.jp/
- Hatsune – This is a traditional Japanese-style restaurant where the staff members wear kimono, and the guests have to sit on tatami floors. It specializes in kaiseki that features various seasonal dishes and local specialties. Official website: http://www.hatune.yoshino.jp/
- Yakko – This is a restaurant near Kimpusenji Temple. It is known for its lunch sets that include soba, udon, or kakinoha sushi, and traditional drinks, such as tea and coffee. All of its tables offer fantastic views of the mountain. Official website: http://www.yakko-yoshinoyama.com/