You desire a dark and creepy bamboo forest experience? Read on.
When visiting Kansai and Osaka, it’s easy to think of the whole region as a purely urban conglomeration. Which it is to a degree, but large parts, especially outside Kyoto, Nara and south of Osaka, are very peaceful and rural. Add the great transport connections to this and you have endless opportunities for day hikes!

I’m not a big hiker, but do enjoy long walks and easy hikes every now and then (and I hate mountains!). I had been meaning to hike the Kisen alps for a long time, but heard reports of the bad state of the trail and decided not to go by myself. I’m so glad I didn’t, as this turned out the scariest hike I’ve ever taken. It was easy enough to find the trail from Yamanakad station, and the instructions provided on the Hiking in Japan Website were on point… to a certain degree.

After a very steep initial climb up, the trail was in very poor shape, with a lot of warning signs about slippery slopes and other kinks in the road. One we reached what the website described as a large park, we were indeed rewarded with some great views across Osaka bay and Kansai airport as well as further into Wakayama Prefecture. As it was already 4 pm at that point, we decided to go for the shortest route towards Kii station… from where the path got even worse. We ended up having to virtually slide down the last mile of bamboo forest during dawn, which in retrospect is the funniest, but also scariest experience I’ve had in Japan. There was construction going on at the end of the trail, so we had to walk through a really creepy tunnel to get to the station in the end. If we hadn’t met other hikers along the way, I would have sworn the path had officially been closed.

choose your way out!

Was it scary? Yes, but an experience I won’t ever forget. Absolutely go for a hike here when you’re staying in Osaka! From current updates, it sounds like the trail has been reinstated a month or two after our experience. But do go early in the day, make sure it didn’t rain the day before, and do wear proper gear. Trainers and shorts or a skirt will not cut it here. It’s an easy hike on a physical level, but you do need some proper boots and trousers in case you end up on your behind at some point. You should be able to read some survival Japanese or bring someone with you who can. The warning signs are definitely not to be ignored and there is absolutely no signage in English… you absolutely must be able to read the names of the places you are going. Also, this is not for the arachnophobes! There were lots of spider webs on the way.

However, if you want to rural Japan with a touch of eeriness like out of a Ghibli movie, this is probably your best chance in Kansai.

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