Discover the three faces of this mystical mountainous area and popular tourist spot for cherry blossoms.
Visiting Mount Yoshino and the surrounding town is like visiting three places at once in Nara Prefecture. While other attractions have their major sights located all in one area, the most interesting areas of Mount Yoshino are divided into three distinct areas. Each of the lower, middle and upper areas offer different attractions and things to see.
Mount Yoshino was designated as part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004 called “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range.” It should be a rather leisurely hike with the mountain’s altitude at 350 meters.
The lower area is the place that most people arrive at and offers some of the best natural sights with lots of foliage to see and some spectacular cherry blossoms depending on season. Interestingly for such a natural area it also includes the lower parts of the town itself and the departure point for the cable cars which travel up to the top of the area regularly.
As the lower area also encompasses the lowest outskirts of the town, most people use the route through the town as their path up the mountain. It is also a great place to get some food before traveling upwards as all the best shops and restaurants are all in this middle area. The area also has the best sights to see, including the world-famous Kinpusen-ji Temple and Yoshimizu Shrine with its fantastic views.
Upward Mount Yoshino
Finally after refreshing yourself, it is worthwhile traveling from the town upwards. The upper area is where the most common image of the area, the panoramic view of the surrounding area, is usually shot from. The best place to get this iconic shot is from a place called Hanayagura. However photography isn’t the only attraction of the area as picnics can be enjoyed in the many parks in the area and simply walking around the natural area can lead to isolated beautiful spots.
One of the best-kept secrets of this area is also here, the Oku Senbon area. This area has the unique feature of having cherry blossoms that bloom later than the flowery wonders in the surrounding area because of the altitude. This gives people who missed their hanami parties a second chance to see cherry blossoms albeit ever so slightly out of season.
While Yoshino can get crowded, especially at cherry blossom time, there are still plenty of lesser-known locations dotting the area that are waiting to be discovered.