Mount Kongo: Rich History and Scenic Beauty
Mount Kongo (金剛山) in Osaka, at 1,125 meters is Osaka’s tallest mountain, with the border between the Osaka and Nara prefectures slicing right through it. Mount Kongō has a rich history as the birthplace of the Shugendo, a religion where one attains enlightenment by understating the relation between humans and nature through mountain dwelling and worship. I am sure our hiking readers have felt this many times in their own journeys, it is one of the tranquillity’s that draws us back. The mountain also hosted an epic battle around 1330 between imperial loyalists and the Shogunate totalitarian ruler of Japan. On clear weather days the view from the summit include the plains of Settsu, the Rokko Mountains and even as far as Awaji Island.
Outdoor Activities at Mount Kongo
Mount Kongo is a popular destination as the top hosts many entertaining things such as temples, shrines, a campground, museum and even a trout fishing area. It is also popular in the winter as it is one of the most reliable ways to see snow in the Osaka region on a moderately easy but very beautiful hike.
Hiking Mount Kongo
Mount Kongo is usually approached from the Osaka side as it operates a cable car and features a more friendly approach for hikers. The mountain can, however, also be approached from the Nara side yet it requires a bit more fitness, and I would really recommend a good pair of hiking shoes too. If you plan to make your approach in the winter, then spikes are a must as it can get icy at some points along the trial. As always make sure to bring food, water, spare batteries, adequate clothing and a light source.
Getting to Mount Kondo
My journey started nice and early, as the hike itself takes some time, there are many things to do once you reach the top, and the cable car/bus home on the Osaka side finishes at 5:00pm (I’ve included a timetable for you at the end of the article). The train journey can be done numerous ways, but I will give you the most simple from Namba. From Osaka Namba Nankai station, take the Nankai Koya Line Exp. for HASHIMOTO (¥690) to Hashimoto, and then the JR Wakayama Line for OJI(¥240) will take you to Kitauchi (北宇智駅), where we will disembark. The whole journey will take around one and a half hours.
Stop at Shrines Along the Way
Once you have disembarked, follow the map to the trail head. Kitauchi is very countryside, and you might get a little shock when you see the train station!
The walk to the trail head is a little long at 3.3km, but we pass a nice place called “Mitama Shine” around the half way mark, so it’s an interesting walk.
Pay a visit to Mitama Shrine, which you will pass on your way to the trail head. Mitama Shrine has a very mysterious feel to it, and it really set me up mentally for a nice spiritual experience.
The shrine houses a nice little gallery of old Japanese art, and I enjoyed taking the time to look at the pieces and also to sketch a few. After enjoying Mitama Shrine, we then walk up along the path given on the map to the trail head above. After crossing a largish road (Owa town), a short walk through a rustic town and past a big red gate, we eventually arrive at the trail head.Hiking to Mitama Shrine in Mount Kongo Osaka
The Hike Begins
From here we begin the trek up to the top of Mount Kongo! I hope you like stairs… Yes, there are a lot of stairs on this hike, and it is a very step hike at parts. Although you will not need to climb, there are sections where using your hands will make things a little easier.
The path is very straightforward and there are signs and cell phone reception points along the path, so you can walk at leisure and take in the nature. As we get closer and closer to the summit the path will become less maintained and, if you are heading up in winter, will start to be covered in ice.
When you read the crossroads, take a right turn and continue along the trail. After zig zagging through a nostalgic path, we will arrive at the Kongō camping grounds! Well done!
From the campgrounds you can enjoy the summit of Mount Kongo at your leisure, but I recommend heading along the Diamond Trail (ダイアモンドトレール) to the viewing platform. From here, if the weather is nice, you can see fantastic views as far as Awaji Island. Further along the path you will reach the actual summit (where 1053m is written on the map) and continuing past that you can find a couple of interesting and spiritual temples.
Finally, when you are ready to head home, simply take any of the paths on the campgrounds map back to the cable car. I took and enjoyed the rakuraku road (らくらくの路), and then the Shakunage road (しゃくなげの路)。From the cable car stop, it is a short and well signed walk to the bus station, where you can ride a bus for about 30 minutes to Tondabayashi station.
From Tondabayashi, take the Kintetsu Minami Osaka / Nagano Line Semi-Exp. For OSAKAABENOBASHI (¥440), and then a short 5 minute walk to Tennoji station. From Tennoji station there are numerous ways to reach Namba station.
I think you will really enjoy this hike in Osaka, it can be tricky at points and the ice a little dangerous, but all in all it is relatively easy and enjoyable. The summit of Mount Kongo has many things to see and do, so the hike is not over once you reach it. Remember to wear good shoes, bring some food, drink and a light, and you will enjoy it!
|One-Way||750 Yen||390 Yen|
|Round-Trip||1420 Yen||750 Yen|
|Departure (first departure at 9:00 but on New Year’s Day 5:00)|
|Weekdays (from Mon. to Sat.)||Every 30 minute|
|Holidays||Every 15 minute|
|Last Departure Times|
|Month||From Mon. to Fri.||Sat/Sun/Holidays|
|Address||Mt. Kongo, Chihayaakasaka, Osaka Prefecture|
|Access||[map]Mt. Kongo, Chihayaakasaka, Osaka Prefecture[/map]|