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Japan: Hike Mount Wakakusa

Nara-shi, Japan



1.9 miles

Elevation Gain

1122 ft

Route Type



Added by Joshua and Macayla Fryc

Take in the astounding beauty of Japan from the hills overlooking the temple and shrines of historic Nara, Japan. The primeval forest has been untouched, and is today what it was hundreds of years ago.

  • At the far end of Nara, in the Nara park, (opposite the train stations), you will see several gated turnstiles that allow access to a large grassy hill. This is the base of Mount Wakakusa. The fee to use this access point is approx. $5 USD. Though to avoid that fee, stroll up the backside of the mountain. 
  • If you are facing the mountain simply walk right until you see a road that directly boarders the gated hill, going into the mountains. 
  • At the entrance, there is posted map of the area, illustrating the hotel at the end of the road. Go toward that hotel.  
  • The first segment of this path will have signs for waterfalls and trails and the road will become gravel, leading into the ancient forest. 
  • Simply walk the gradual incline through the perfectly serene forest filled with massive trees, some of which are hundreds of years old, and make your way to the top. It takes some time, but no rush as the atmosphere is perfectly tranquil. (Whoever said Japan was all city?) 
  • When you reach the top you will see a parking lot, vending machines, and restrooms. Follow the path past the restrooms, to the scenic overlook. Depending on the day and season you can see everything from changing leaves, burning rice stalks, and distant pagodas. 
  • There are some magnificent benches and many people take picnics. When you are ready to head down, rather than retracing your steps, look for the vacant tolled entry, approx. 200 ft. below the viewing spot. No need to pay a fee. The staired hike down is significantly faster, and will place you back where you started. 
  • And if you're feeling snack-ish after your hike, try out the matcha ice cream at a shop nearby. It's a Japanese favorite. 
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