Category Archives: Outdoor

Walking Through the Pink Clouds

While Yoshino is a beautiful area throughout the entire year, it is perhaps most famous for its cherry blossoms that bloom every spring on Mt. Yoshino. There are so many that it feels like a fantasy world. As we climb up and down paths surrounded by these flowers, a cool breeze might blow a wave of petals off the branches and around our heads. As we climb higher, we might get a great view of the flowers and trees on the mountains around us as well, which always makes me feel like I am walking through the clouds.

If you visit large parks, riversides, or other places at this time of year, you are likely to see many people picnicking around these beautiful flowers. When I first came to Japan as a student, one of my favorite experiences was gathering at a park with my school club and enjoying the cherry blossoms. There were so many people who had come to the park, that we ended making many new friends. Cherry blossoms have a unique power in that way. They help us relax a little, take a break from our busy every day lives, and enjoy the moment.

With the cherry blossoms in full bloom, this is the perfect time of year to enjoy Mt. Yoshino. In addition to walking through these pink clouds, we have a tour that will let you feel the history of this mountain in its many temples and shrines. Just ride the Kintetsu Yoshino Line to the end of the line, and step into our blooming world of wonder.


No. 330 – An Introduction to Yoshinoyama (Uphill Course)



Experiencing the Flavors and Traditions of the Mountains

When it comes to winter food in Kawakami Village, hot pots of daikon radishes and napa cabbage, or warm bowls of sweet azuki red bean soup and mochi are what first come to mind. However, there is another winter specialty that is popular among both locals and visitors to Kawakami Village.

“Yokan” is a Japanese dessert made from mashed beans and gelatin, and often flavored and colored as well. Every winter, Asahikan in Kawakami Village makes its “yuzu yokan” from scratch. They boil the beans in a wood-fire pot, then rinse them and skin them before mashing them up to be used in the dessert. They continue to use a recipe and methods that have been passed down through generations, including picking the yuzu, a citrus fruit, from trees nearby. Flakes of the fruit’s yellow skin add a subtle flavor to the yokan’s sweetness, and a bright element to the already pink-colored dessert. As a 130-year-old traditional Japanese inn, Asahikan offers guests the opportunity to experience what staying in the countryside might have been like in a previous era. With its traditional architecture, including a stunning garden on its second floor, you can walk the same wooden halls and stay in the same tatami rooms as its many visitors have done for over a century.

If you are looking for some outdoor fun as well, we offer an experience in which you can stay at Asahikan, chop some bamboo from its mountain grove, and turn that bamboo into your own lunchbox. You’ll take that lunch with you when you go out to explore the wide variety of moss in our village, and then create your own moss terrarium. Young or old, all ages are welcome!

No. 457 – Local Food Experience in Kawakami Village



New Shades of Mountains

As persimmon season in southern Nara comes to an end, and just before the long winter begins, we are briefly greeted by the pleasant autumn colors sprinkled throughout our mountains.

Takumi-no-mura is a small community of artists in Kawakami Village. From ceramics to wood carving to traditional painting, they have both their residences and studios in this unique area atop a mountain, surrounded by trees and views of endless mountain ranges.

I took a stroll in the “geijutsu-no-mori”, or “Art Forest”, that is located just above the cottages for guests to stay in.

The higher I climbed through the fallen leaves, acorns, and chestnut skins, the more of the surrounding mountains I was able to see. At the end is deck made of logs that allows you to see the full expanse of the surrounding mountain ranges, and just how high up I was.

After my stroll, I had lunch at the recently re-styled cafe in the Takumi-no-mura gallery. Sitting at the counter along the broad windows, I had a great of both the expansive mountains and the artist community below.

The artists in Takumi-no-mura offer a variety of art experiences, including pottery, wood carving, jewelry making, and painting. It is a place where people can enjoy the slow flow of time, admiring nature, and creating something new.

Visiting the Water Shed Forest of the Yoshino River

The mountains of Kawakami Village have 500 years of forestry history. However, even before that, during the Nanboku-cho period (1336-1392), the emperor of the Southern Court made their headquarters deep in these mountains, in an area called Sannoko. The Southern Court was eventually overtaken by the Northern Court, but the forest in which it was headquartered has been left nearly untouched, even to today.

One of the easier parts of the path.
Crossing a log bridge.

Yesterday, a visiting professor from England and I trekked through this forest, over log bridges, along cliffs, and eventually to Myojin Waterfall. “Hooray! Hooray!” he shouted when we reached the waterfall. The water slowly gathers in these mountains, giving life to moss and plants, and forming small streams, tributaries, waterfalls, and eventually the Yoshino River. This river flows through Kawakami Village, Yoshino Town, Oyodo Town, Gojo City, Wakayama Prefecture, and eventually to the ocean. It provides water and a habitat for many kinds of life all along the way.

A view of Myojin Waterfall.
Myojin Waterfall

I always love coming to this forest. Its combination of ancient history and overwhelming nature is very surreal. It is well out of range for any cell phone reception, so I can forget about my news feed, emails, and updates here. I just watch my steps, hold on to the ropes, and try to take it all in.

The forest is covered in many kinds of beautiful moss.

This forest is protected and requires permission to enter. However, it is still very accessible for visitors staying in southern Nara Prefecture. If you are interested in visiting the forest, please contact the MoritoMizuno Genryukan (Forest and Water Museum) or the Kawakami Village Office, and they can provide you with more information. I recommend having some climbing experience and getting comfortable with high places, as there are some steep cliffs. There are sometimes snakes, deer, and bears, so please do not go by yourself.

Let’s try Ayu fishing in crystal clear river in Higashiyoshino!

Only Summer and Early Autumn! Let’s try Ayu fishing in crystal clear river in Higashiyoshino where is surrounded by a rich natural environment.

Ayu is inhabiting all around Japan, however Ayu fishing is especially popular in Nara. Ayu fishing season is very short, from June to September only!

The method of catching Ayu is very unique and totally different from the others.
One of the most important thing to catch Ayu is by means of a live Ayu as a decoy. It is based on the habit of Ayu.
As Ayu is very territorial, it is likely to attack the live decoy as the intruder. The live decoy has a fish hook and Ayu get caught when it attacks.

A famous fishing instructor will provide you a detailed lesson and everyone can enjoy the program even if you are a beginner!
Please have a memorable time for your summer holiday with Ayu fishing!

Please check our website↓↓

Relax in Totsukawa village★

A few days ago, I went to Totsukawa village♪ Totsukawa village is the biggest village in Japan in the southernmost part of Nara prefecture. Away from the city, I came to countryside, where healing world of the mountains.

Most amazing place is “Tanize suspension bridge” which is a tourist attraction representing the Totsukawa. Enclosed in wire mesh and rising 54 meters over the Totsukawa River, the bridge built in 1954 to connect the villages of Uenochi and Tanize. Though quite safe, the swaying motion can be scared, or fun, depending on your mind.

When I happened to pass people who came from the opposite side on the way, the bridge was really swaying! The bridge is quite long, terrific attractions. It was very scared and my legs froze.

After I reached to the opposite side, found a good feeling teahouse! I ordered “rice cakes” and a bottle of “ramune soda drink”. I spent a while watching the scenery for a while. Daydreaming at the cafe is my pastime.

Then I went to several hot springs and healed my body. Totskawa hot spring is good for your skin and warm from body core. In the outdoor bath, I could feel nature, so the fatigue blew away. I recommend you to enjoy hot springs in various places in Totskawa, you can also choose a long stay or a day trip, so come over Totsukawa ☆ 彡

Finally! A cycling tour is now available!

We launched an exciting cycling tour!
Enjoy slow cycling with a local guide in Asuka village, a rural area of Nara rich in nature and history.
It is highly amusing for most people to visit historical spots, temples, and shrines in Asuka village. But for those who are not satisfied with those typical tours, this cycling tour will bring you different kind of experiences and point of views.

Cycling Tour in Ancient Asuka

Our guide is the staff of a guest house in the village, who has been welcoming many tourists.
The tour party is limited to not more than six members. You can enjoy the tour in a relaxing mood. The bicycle is electrically assisted. No need to worry about your stamina.
Whenever a spot catches your eyes, just stop, talk and admire the view.
You will encounter with the life of the village people and the scenery dressed up always differently by the seasons and weather. Each encounter will surely be a once-in-a-lifetime moment.

Beautiful Inabuchi terraced rice fields.

This tour is not just a cycling tour.
Get off the bicycle and hop on the stepping stones to cross the Asuka river. Climb up a small hill to watch the relics of Asuka-kyo old palace site and imagine how the palace looked like 1400 years ago.
If you have a chance, you might come across a strange sight: the cut radishes on skewers hanging under the eaves. Or, you might learn from our guide that the irrigation channels in the village have been working since the Muromachi period (14-16th century). And probably, you will discover metal rings on a farmhouse, which were used to harness the cows for cultivating soils in old days. Thus, you can experience the life of the village, etc. through your eyes, ears, touches, thought, and imagination.

Go cycling and dive into the unique and wonderful life of the village!
Asuka village will surely make you happy and smiling.

* Please check our hands-on experience program

Cycling Tour in Ancient Asuka

Mt. Kasuga Primeval Forest

Hiking Adventure in Mt. Kasuga Primeval Forest is our newly launched experience program. An expert of Mt. Kasuga will guide you to the historic and cultural world.

Mt. Kasuga Primeval Forest has been preserved as a sanctuary of Kasuga Grand Shrine since Emperor Ninmyō (region: 833-850) prohibited tree felling and hunting during Heian period (from 8th to 12th century). It is unusual for the primeval forest like this to exist in the middle of the town, so Mt. Kasuga Primeval Forest is designated Natural Monument in 1955.
Also this combination of shrine and the forest was highly evaluated and designated as a world cultural heritage ‘Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara’.
From a long time ago, Mt. Kasuga Primeval Forest has been composed in Man’yōshū including other anthologies.

Mt. Kasuga Primeval Forest has not been preserved untouched but preserved touched by people since Heian period. A part of the forest, where the people of Todaiji Temple and Kofukuji Temple were picking Japanese star anise, was named ‘Kazan’ (Written 花山 in Japanese. Means flour mountain.).
When trees were damaged by typhoons, people planted native trees to maintain its original condition.

A lot of subordinate shrines are exists in Mt. Kasuga Primeval Forest, and still widely practiced by people. Between Heian period and Kamakura period, many Buddhist priest trained in this huge forest, so some stone images of the Buddha are still remain.  In addition to this, there are some places where we can feel this historic and cultural atmosphere. For example, the Japanese cedar which has been believed as a ceder planted by Toyotomi Hideyoshi and ‘Takisaka-no-Michi’ (old Yagyu highway).

As written in the beginning, Mt. Kasuga Premival Forest is very rare forest. Coniferous trees like cedar named ‘Kasuga cedar’, maple and Japanese hemlock, broad leaved deciduous trees, ferns and mosses are distributed. Also this forest is a dwelling of birds, deer, flying squirrels and many kind of beetles.

We are sure that this program will be your memorable time in Nara.

* Please check our hands-on experience program
Hiking Adventure in Mt. Kasuga Primeval Forest