Osaka city conjures up images of blaring neon lights, takoyaki, Dotonbori, and the Glico Man. Rough around the edges, loud, and charmingly honest, Osaka is known for being great fun and is absolutely the place to live it up. That being said, after all of the late nights spent drinking in Nanba, sometimes you need a little rest and renewal.
To get away from it all, Kansai offers a great many options. You can trek up to Kyoto for some spirituality, head off to Nara to play with deer, or spend some time at the different beaches dotting the coastline—or you could head to a waterfall. That’s right, inside of Osaka city limits is Minoo, a quasi national park featuring a mild hike and a soothing waterfall that will renew your tired soul and have you ready to face life stronger than ever.
The Hankyu Takarazuka line offers a picturesque ride down to Takarazuka station. Alight at Ishibashi station and transfer to the Minoo line. From here it’s a short ride until Minoo station, which is located conveniently at the foot of the hill you’ll be climbing to reach the waterfall.
As you head toward the pathway up the hill, you’ll be greeted by Minoo’s mascot Takemichi no Yuzuru, a tenderhearted samurai with a yuzu citrus for his head, and eyebrows that grant happiness if you rub them. If you aren’t already healed by his eyebrows, the hike up to the waterfall will get your endorphins pumping and the waterfall itself will wipe you pure.
The hike is roughly an hour at a decent pace, and if you’ve spent any amount of time in Japan, it shouldn’t be very challenging. At the base of the hill is a foot bath for you to rest your tired feet in when you make it back down the mountain—and it’s a good thing to look forward to when you’re getting tired on your way up. Wear comfortable shoes, loose clothing, and carry a bottle or so of water per person and the trip should be pleasant.
The pathway up to Minoo’s waterfall is easy to follow and paved in concrete. Though this takes away from the wild outdoor feeling, it does lend itself to making the hike foolproof, wheelchair accessible and unintimidating regardless of fitness or ability.
At the very beginning of the hike, there are stalls selling food, souvenirs, and momiji tempura (maple leaf tempura). The tempura is a special delicacy of Minoo, and it’s sweet, crunchy, and suits the mood of the area quite well. As you get further up, you find yourself surrounded by forest. The sound of gushing water draws attention to the creek running below the path. If you’re feeling brave, you can climb down the rocks and play in the stream before continuing the hike up to the waterfall.
The path follows the creek all the way to it’s source at the waterfall, and temples, traditional buildings, and even an insect museum dot the ascent. As you get closer to the waterfall, the temperature drops significantly, the roar of the waterfall becomes prominent and a cool breeze blows down the mountain away from the falls. It’s refreshing in summer—particularly after you’ve worked up a sweat hiking the hillside.
The final leg of the climb is quick, and opens on to a sort of deck, lined with stalls selling food and furnished with benches to rest your tired soles. You’ve made it! Grab some food, enjoy the waterfall, and relish the feeling of being in nature.
There are no trashcans in this area, so remember to bring a backpack or something similar so you can stow your trash to dispose of at the bottom of the mountain. Takemichi no Yuzuru will not appreciate littering, so please be conscientious of this beautiful park and do your part!
Once you’ve finished enjoying the waterfall, the hike down is surprisingly shorter than the hike up. It takes less than half of the time, and goes by in the blink of an eye. When you’ve finally reached the bottom of the mountain, the footbath awaits! A quick soak and it feels like you never hiked at all. There’s also an onsen (hot spring) spa in the surrounding area, so if you’re in need of some serious r&r, you can opt to enjoy the hot springs as well.
Minoo is a quick trip away from Osaka, and can be covered in a good half day. It’s a cool respite during summer, but is especially stunning in fall when the surrounding foliage reflects the seasons with bright reds, oranges, and golds.
So, what are you waiting for? Gather some friends, grab some Pocari, and head out to Minoo for a great day out enjoying nature.