Photo By: 名古屋太郎
Region
Kansai
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Nara
Population
1,442,862

Mount Wakakusa

Feel the burn...

  • Check out the "mountain roast" on the fourth Saturday of each January.
One of the best things about going to Nara City is an abundance of places to see in a small area. Travelers shop, feed the deer and take photos of famous temples all in just a few hours. While these are a must, experiencing the nearby nature will add another element to your Nara Prefecture trip.

Luckily, the unfairly overlooked Mount Wakakusa stands right next to the main temple area. Venturing from Todai-ji Temple and Kasuga Shrine will lead to further exploration of the mountain that offers a lovely view of Nara, plus seasonal goodies and events.

mount-wakakusa

Photo by: Nathan Vennekens Great view with a short hike.

The climb

While it is officially a mountain, most visitors will not find it a challenging climb at 342-meters high. A relaxed pace and a moderate amount of effort should be enough to ascend the slope to the lower plateau in 15 to 20 minutes. Thankfully, even a short hike is rewarded by a view that takes in all the major sites of Nara.

Most people are content with the view from the first spot, but the summit of the mountain can be reached with an additional 20-minute walk.

While the burial mound at the very top isn’t particularly attractive, the upper slopes are where the birds and deer congregate after a long day of eating the rice crackers thrown by tourists. In the evening, expect to see murders of crows packed tightly with herds of deer grazing on the grassy knolls.

Seasonal highlights

Depending on the season, the area also has some special events worth checking out. Mount Wakakusa is famous locally for its cherry blossom trees during the hanami (blossom viewing) in the spring and as the location of a senbei (Japanese rice cracker)-throwing competition.

Mount Wakakusayama

Photo by: IH Mount Wakakusa’s annual burn.

On the fourth Saturday of each January, the mountain’s dead grass is burned in a festival known as yamayaki (mountain roast), which is commonly known as a prescribed burn. Here, the whole mountain is lit up in flames and later fireworks are launched into the sky.

Photo by: Find 47 Don’t miss the fireworks show.

Mount Wakakusa will give travelers a different perspective on the major sites of Nara and to be seeing it all from the top is a unique view into a sacred world.

Interested in hiking more nature in Japan? Check out our hiking section.

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Things To Know

Fees

Adults: ¥150; Children ¥80

How To Get There

Address

Nara-Okuyama Drive Way, Nara-shi, Nara-ken, Japan

By train

The nearest station is Nara on the Kintetsu line. The mountainous area is a good 20- to 30-minute walk away from the station. 

By bus

For people that don’t fancy the walk, the Nara tourist bus can be used from Nara station and most major attractions. Alight at the Kasuga Taisha stop.

Where To Stay

Tsukihitei
  • Kasugano-cho 158 Nara-Shi, Nara 630-8212
  • 9.5/10
  • 0.9 km
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Mikasa
  • Kawakami-cho 728 Nara-Shi, Nara 630-8202
  • 8.9/10
  • 1.0 km
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Heijo
  • Kawakami-cho 728 Nara-Shi, Nara 630-8202
  • 9.2/10
  • 1.0 km
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Kotonoyado Musashino
  • Kasugano-cho 90 Nara-Shi, Nara 630-8212
  • 9.1/10
  • 1.2 km
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