Mt. Takatori is the site of Japan’s oldest mountaintop castle, and the hike takes you up, around, and through the ruins of the castle walls, with views of both the Yamato plain and the Omine mountain range. It makes for a great half-day excursion from Osaka or Nara cities.
This is hike is approachable directly from the train station. From Abenobashi (阿部野橋) station in Tennoji, take an express train on the Kintetsu line bound for Yoshino (吉野) and get off at Tsubosakayama (壺阪山) station. The train takes about 45 minutes or so from Osaka. (Don’t take a limited express train because you’ll have to pay extra money and it really doesn’t save very much time.)
From Tsubosakayama station, exit the ticket gate and take the road running perpendicular to the station. Cross over the busy two-lane road, walk about 100 meters or so, and then turn right on the stone paved street running through the center of town. You’ll see a wooden signpost that says 高取城跡 5.0km. The next 20 minutes or so is a pleasant walk through a traditional Edo-era town. Appreciate the beauty of the old buildings and lack of people. Continue heading straight on the road out of town, as it starts to narrow and follow a river. A little further on, you’ll see a brown sign in white letters that says 俳人·阿波野青畝生家 150m pointing straight ahead. The road turns a bend before reaching a traditional bark-thatched structure housing a waterwheel.( It’s worth crossing the stream and walking down to the rustic structure before heading up the paved road towards the trailhead.) After passing by a public restroom on your left (your only chance to use such facilities), the road will turn into a hiking path and enter the forest.
A few minutes on you’ll reach a junction with a sign pointing towards Sousenji (宗泉寺) Temple on your right. There are 88 different jizo statues scattered on the hillside behind the temple. After a quick look around, retrace your steps back to the junction and continue on the path that leaves the forest road and starts climbing up towards the ridge. Follow the signs that point towards Takatori-Shiroato (高取城跡) as the route follows a small stream and zigzags through the quiet woods.
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