If you are the kind of couple that enjoy adventure and want to see a Japan that few visitors can see, summer is the ideal time to travel to the land of rising sun. The hot weather brings a lot of interesting things to do; I will talk about some eco-friendly options to have unforgettable dates when you are visiting the Kansai area.
Hiking in OsakaKyoto
Osaka and Kyoto are surrounded by mountains and some of them are open to visitors for hiking. Here are two places that I have gone for a fun hiking.
The secret picture
When people visit Arashiyama they mostly go there to see the bamboo forest and the temples. These are the well-known spots in the area. However, you can have a new adventure and take a picture from Arashiyama that few people would.
Around Kami Katsura area there are two famous temples, Saiho-ji and Suzumushi-dera. These temples are beautiful and full of visitors all over the year. However, few people know that the mountain near the temples has a small trail that brings you to one of the highest points around the Kyoto area.
After leaving Saiho-ji temple you should walk a few minutes to the temple backwards. You will find a small road and a few houses. Then you will see a fence that will lead you to the starting point of Matsuo mount (Matsuoyama).
The path is a slow upward among bamboo trees; it is a little bit hard, but do not worry about getting lost because there are several indications where you should go. As much as you walk, you can feel the nature surrounding you, the fresh air and the astonishing view of Kyoto area. After one hour walking, you will get into a flat path in a cedar forest. There, you can decide if you will start your way down, or if you will go upper. If you decide to continue your way up, you will be gifted with a magnificent view of the Arashiyama bridge and the city.
This track is famous among Japanese people and most of them bring a lunch box or snacks, because there are two benches at the top where you can sit and appreciate the landscape. The end of the trail is near the monkey park, which allows you to enjoy all the famous spots around the area.
A beautiful (and scary) bridge – far from land, close to the sky
Another spot for people that enjoy nature and a good walk is the Hoshida Enchi Park in Osaka prefecture. The park is one of the most popular destinations among Japanese families and couples. The easiest way to access it is taking the Keihan railway to Kisaichi. After walking 10 minutes from the station, you will reach the park entrance. Near to the entrance, you will encounter an area for barbecue and picnic and a small water lily pond – you can take a quick break before starting the adventure. From there, there are many forest trails running off through the hills in various directions.
At the main track the visitor have a resting place that has some vending machines and toilets. Not only that, but also there is a bouldering wall that is open to kids and adults that want to fully enjoy the activities in the park.
After increasing your adrenaline levels doing bouldering, it is time to start the hiking. The mountain makes the visitors work for it though, but the trails are wide and easy; it will take around 2 hours to reach the goal – the highest point in the park. However, to those who make it to the top, they get a sweeping view from Kyoto, Kuzuha, Takatsuki and the main Osaka area.
Another surprise that waits for you when you visit Hoshida Enchi Park is a suspension brigde called Hoshi no Buranko (literally the swing of stars). The bridge is 200m long, 50m high, linking two hills. It is very interesting to walk across the bridge; it can be challenging for some people, but it is a good opportunity to hold your partner’s hand strongly and take wonderful pictures, since the view of the surrounding mountains and valley below makes it a scenic experience.
Rafting in Kyoto
Hikking is not the only eco-adventure that you can do in the Kansai area. If you want to try another marvelous activity during Japanese Summer, rafting is the perfect choice. In the Kyoto area the Hozugawa River is the most famous place for rafting. During the hot season, the river gets higher water-levels, making rafting thrilling and exciting.
Raffiting on Hozugawa river is organized by several companies that welcome beginners (like me) and experienced rafting enthusiasts. When you subscribe for the adventure, they offer you a mini course, explaining everything about safety and how to fully enjoy the trip. Moreover, all the equipment you need is included, such as life jacket, wetsuit, helmet, and paddle. A guide will be always with you, explaining everything about the area and preparing many fun activities. In addition, you do not need to be worried about taking pictures, the guides will do it for you! They will get the perfect shots during the adventure.
However, if you think rafting is too scary for you and your partner, but you still would like to appreciate the Hozugawa river, you do not need to be sad. For those that do not want to face the cold waters from Hozugawa, there is a sightseeing boat that rides from Arashiyama. This traditional style boat will bring you for a two hours course down the river.
Either if you decide to go for raffiting or the sightseeing boat, the experience in Kameoka/Arashiyama area only will be complete if you take the Sagano scenic train, also called the Sagano Romantic Train (the most perfect spot for couples). The old fashioned – and charming – train makes its way through the mountains in a slow pace, giving the passenger the opportunity to appreciate the iconic view from the forest and rural area between Kameoka and Arashiyama. It is the perfect time to relax from a day full of adventures and take amazing pictures from the mesmerizing and colorful summer sunset in Kyoto.