Mount Ikoma is at the border between the ancient Nara Prefecture (East) and the modern Osaka Prefecture (West).
Access by cable car
You can go to Ikoma city from Osaka city by taking a direct train from Osaka-Namba station to Ikoma station for less than 22 minutes. Arrived at Ikoma station, you just have to walk 5 minutes to reach the cable car station, which is called Toriimae. The ticket machines have an English interface so you should not have any problem purchasing your tickets. However, there are few departures (every half hour approximately) so you may have to wait. In addition, you will need to do a change of cable car to reach the top of the mountain… Going up may accordingly take time; make sure you have something to keep you busy if your timing is bad.
Views from the top near the cable car station
After arriving at the Mountain Top last station, you can take photos behind you (direction of Nara prefecture) or walk straight in the local amusement park, cross it completely, and walk a bit east or west to find your favorite spot to see the landscape in the direction of Osaka prefecture. If you arrive late or if you spend lots of time in the amusement park, you may consider watching the sunset. If the weather is good enough, you may live a very romantic experience in Japan. If the weather is too cold, take a seat in the “View” restaurant while waiting for the sunset. You may not be able to see the sunset or the nightscape if the time of the departure of the last cable car does not match the time of sunset. I was kind of lucky when I went to Mount Ikoma: the last cable car was at 18:09 and the sunset was at 17:59 so I could see the sun turn from yellow to red then disappear beyond the horizon… and I still managed to arrive at the cable car 3 minutes early. Make sure to check the timetable of the cable car and time of sunset before deciding to go to the top of Mount Ikoma by cable car.
After seeing the sunset/nightscape
After seeing the sunset and taking the cable car down the mountain, you can go to a very nice restaurant in the small shopping alley in front of the cable car station. I went there once and savoured yakitori grilled chicken, tofu surrounded by yuba and fried, and a cute appetizer. The price was reasonable and the food was good and easy to share. Some tables had seats and some tables were low so the customers had to sit on the floor. You can ask the style you like. Also the menu as photos to help you order your food 🙂 The name is Karumeshijaya, and it is perfect for couples. I think it is a great experience to eat there before returning to Osaka!
Views after arriving by car
There are several spots to watch the sun set and enjoy the nightscape on Mount Ikoma but they typically require driving a car. I do not recommend renting a car in this case: left-side driving, street signs in Japanese characters, navigation system working only partly (or not at all) in English… All big issues for most Westerners visiting Japan. Use the cable car instead!