Top Things to Do Around Mount Yoshino

ByJustin Hanus
Aug 30, 2023

Top Things to Do Around Mount Yoshino

Part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site called “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage routes in the Kii Mountain Range,” Mount Yoshino is an important cultural site as well as a spot of natural beauty. Visitors flock here during the cherry blossom season, but there are many things to see and do during the rest of the year as well.


Arguably the best viewpoint on Mount Yoshino is Hanayagura. Although it is a bit of a hike to reach it, you’ll definitely find it worthwhile. In addition to being rewarded with panoramic views of the lower part of the mountain, which is covered in sakura trees and features a picturesque winding road of buildings leading to the town, you can enjoy a cup of tea while you rest.

Kinpusenji Temple

The most important temple in Yoshino — and, indeed, for the mountain worship of Shugendo as a whole — is Kinpusenji. Make sure to visit the main hall, which is called Zaodo. This stately place is the second largest wooden structure in the country (the largest is Todaiji Temple in Nara). It features massive beams and 1,300-year-old Zao Gongen statues that stand 7 meters tall. These statues represent the past, present, and future Buddha.

Chikurin-in Temple

In addition to the wildness of the slopes of Mount Yoshino, you can experience nature at Chikurin-in Temple, which has a traditional landscaped garden. As well as the sakuras, highlights include the weeping willows by the pond and the views from the hillside. There are also several trails that will take you to various viewpoints and spots where you can rest to enjoy the scenery. If you want to spend more time on Mount Yoshino, you can stay at the ryokan, which has an onsen.


For a longer hike, head to Saigyoan — it takes around two hours to reach the spot from Yoshino Station. This hermitage once belonged to the poet Saigyo-hoshi, who lived here at the end of the Heian period. He spent three years at the hermitage training to becoming a priest. It’s impressive to think that anyone would be able to live in such a simple dwelling with nothing around but trees and birds.

Yoshimizu Shrine

When it was constructed in the 8th century, Yoshimizu Shine was actually a temple for Shugendo practitioners. In the 14th century, Emperor Go-Daigo established his Southern Court here, turning the building into an Imperial Palace (he is now buried at the site). Finally, when the Buddhist and Shinto religions separated during the Meiji Period, the building became a shrine. It is interesting to visit both for the views of the slopes of Mount Yoshino and for the exhibition in the main building, which features historic documents, paintings, and other artwork.

Although it’s definitely worth visiting Mount Yoshino to see the more than 30,000 cherry trees blossoming in the spring, you’ll be able to appreciate the natural beauty of the area at any time of the year. Spending some time here will make it obvious why this was an important center for mountain worship.

KimonBerlin, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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