Yoshino is nestled in the sacred Omine Mountains of Nara Prefecture amongst the vast natural landscape of Yoshino-Kumano National Park. The town is synonymous with natural beauty, historic destinations, incredible food and cherry blossoms. As one of the "Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range" along with Mount Koya and Kumano, Yoshino is a UNESCO heritage site home to a wealth of prominent Japanese temples and shrines. For centuries, people have come from far and wide to test their physical and mental endurance along the pilgrimage route up the sacred Mount Omine.
From Osaka’s Abenobashi Station a trip to Yoshino will take 90 minutes on the Kintetsu Minami Osaka Line, or 75 minutes by limited express. If you’re coming from Tokyo the trip will take about two hours by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line (Nozomi), or and hour an 45 minutes by Kintetsu Line. When you arrive in Yoshino from Osaka or Kyoto, you’ll be delivered to Yoshino Station located in Shimo Senbon, which is the lower area of the mountain. It’s the base of the pilgrimage up Yoshinoyama the sacred and historic mountain around which this city is centred.
Dotted with shrines and temples, the pilgrimage up the town’s centrepiece Yoshinoyama is something of a fairy-tale, in spring 30,000 cherry trees blossom across Yoshinoyama turning the surrounds into bubblegum pink hills. Yoshino is also home to the practice of mountain asceticism, a spiritual approach to mountain worship through abstinence from worldly pleasures. The town’s world heritage temples and monk quarters include Kinpusen-ji, Sakuramotobou and Noten Daijin Ryuoin and Yoshino-jingu Shrine.
Yoshino is also the base of the spiritual mountain walk up to Mount Omine, the heart of Shugendo, a form of mountain worship born in Japan during the 7th century. Located on the peak of Mount Omine is the Ominesan-ji temple, the headquarters of the Shugendo sect.
With roots deeply entrenched in Japan’s religious history, Yoshino is also a progressive town. New business owners and creative types breathe fresh life into the city’s streets while drawing inspiration from the past. The Organic Cafe Hanasaka is a completely vegan and organic restaurant in Yoshino that places emphasis on sourcing the best produce from local vendors. Located in a 150 year old renovated private house it's the best way to enjoy a new interpretation on Japanese culture.
One of the first stops you’ll stumble across when you arrive in Yoshino is the Hinata Bokko Log House Café, a recommended stop off if you need to refresh before trekking up the mountains. Built during the Edo-period more than 200 years ago it was renovated using local cedar in the early - mid 1990s. Combining classic Japanese aesthetic with rustic appeal it’s a great place to sit back and begin taking in the natural beauty of your surrounds.
Rich with historic culture, spirituality and amazing food, Yoshino has a lot to offer all year round so it’s worth the short journey from neighboring cities Osaka and Kyoto no matter the season.
NAVITIME TRAVEL EDITOR