One of the best ways to enjoy a new place is to walk around and visit the attractions. But if you’re up for adventures that take hours of marveling beautiful landscapes and historical sites, it calls for leisurely hikes along popular trails and pilgrimage routes. Many countries boast of the best and most scenic trails that takes hours or even days to explore. Japan is one of these countries that offers the most spectacular views.
You must research what trails will suit you and your companions if you’re planning to take a hike to a place you’ve never been to before. Careful planning and preparation is also a must for hikes that are not so leisurely and sometimes a bit tricky and arduous. You must be ready physically and have the appropriate supplies to take with you, especially if there’s someone who has a health condition who’s psyched to conquer those trails. Some people who have ailments and the elderly join pilgrimages to religious and historical places for divine intervention to cure them and bless them with a longer life.
The Kansai region of Japan has one of the the most scenic and breathtaking trails for adventurers who want to go beyond normal and touristy sightseeing. Where nature meets history and culture thus providing an avenue for relaxation as well as learning and fun. These are just a few of what the region has enthralled and excited the world with with its awe-inspiring beauty and splendor.
Considered as one of the greatest divine falls, it has been an inspiration in the country’s literature and the arts. The Ontaki, Mentaki, Meotodaki and Tsutsumigadaki are the 4 different falls comprising it. There’s also an herb garden and observation deck that gives you a majestic view of the Kobe skyline after dark. This trail is easy and it is accessible via the Shin Kobe Station.
For the past 1000 years, pilgrims from all walks of life including nobles of the past generations have survived these routes and paid homage to the deities in this religious destination. You’ll walk up to the Kumano Grand Shrines and Oji shrines and follow through different routes such as the Nakahechi, Kohechi, Ohechi and the Iseji. These pilgrimage routes were awarded as a UNESCO World Heritage site and are a part of the “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range”.
If you’re in Japan to experience relaxation and spiritual fill, here’s another tour that you must experience. The Inunakisan mountain is famous for the spiritual place of the Shugen-do or Japanese mountain asceticism. Its history dates back 1,300 years ago and is one of Japan’s oldest sacred places. Along the way to the Shipporyuji Temple, an important structure in the area, are the 48 large and small waterfalls . It was awarded as one of the Top 100 Greenery sites in Osaka Prefecture as it boasts beautiful valleys, forests, hot springs and the network of sacred falls.
Japan is practically a cherry blossom country and people from around the world look forward to visiting when these trees are in full bloom. This trail to the mountain slopes of Nara Prefecture is the country’s most famous cherry blossom spot showcasing 30,000 cherry trees forming a mantle along the mountain sides. You can walk follow the trails around the slopes and enjoy the falling petals and the crisp mountain breeze.
Situated in the mountainous parts of rural Kyoto, Kurama and Kibune are home to some of the ancient shrines in the country. It only takes a day to explore but you’ll certainly enjoy the quaintness and mystery of the mountains and secluded trails as you traverse down off beaten paths. After a long hike around the sacred shrines and trails, you may want to take a dip in the tepid waters of the Kurama Onsen that draws its water from Mount Kurama.
This mountain is the world headquarters of a sect of Japanese Buddhism known as Kōyasan Shingon founded by Kūkai or revered posthumously as Kōbō-Daishi. There’s a university for religious studies and 120 temples with some of them offering lodging to pilgrims who visit. Other famous sites include the Okunoin where the mausoleum of the monk who founded the sect is located, Danjogaran where the important infrastructures are, Kongōbu-ji, the head temple, Kōyasan chōishi-michi or the trail that leads up the mountain. This is one of the UNESCO Heritage sites that is a part of the “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range”.
If you’re a fan of the Corvette then you are familiar with Hiei, which was commissioned for the Imperial Japanese Navy in the 19th century. That car was named after this mountain that was also famous for the siege led by Oda Nobunaga who razed the temple complex of the Tendai monks. The edifice was restored and is still the home of these monks that are known as the marathon monks who walk for 1000 days in the course of seven years to attain enlightenment. The same distance as walking around the earth. Hikers go up the trails to visit the different attractions especially the temple complex, Enryaku-ji.
The country is rich in history, culture and religious faith so it is proper to mention at least one of the attractions where it possibly began thousands of years ago. According to the earliest stages of Japan’s recorded history, this trail is Japan’s oldest road. You’ll also be led to the O-miwa Jinja, Japan’s oldest shrine, that dates back to the reign of the first emperor Jimmu who ruled from 660 B.C. to 585 B.C. There is no deity enshrined in this temple because the entire mountain Mt. Miwa is the object of worship.
The historical relevance that lies on top of the mountains, between the valleys, and along the mountainsides helps you appreciate what nature is protecting and what religion is either worshiping or nurturing. It’s always amazing to experience the mystery, drama and nostalgia that is hidden in these works of art.