Katsuragi - Mochio Hike

Katsuragi is one of the mountains that make up the ridge between Osaka and Nara prefectures. These are the mountains in the distance you see when crossing the bridge back to the mainland from Kansai International Airport. On this route I became aware of the Diamond Trail that runs down the spine of these mountains, found out about the lodges that offer overnight rooms to hikers, found a beautiful little neighborhood tucked in the mountains and really busted my ankle.

 

Map made with Adze software and a Holux m-241 GPS logger. [trail map]

The Route

Hiking course in relation to Kobe, Osaka and Kansai International Airport.

Hiking course in relation to Kobe, Osaka and Kansai International Airport.

Getting to the trailhead is easy as there is a ropeway there so there are ample trains and busses. The route up the hill is very tough but the trail is well developed. Some areas suffer from water damage and require some high stepping and using your hands. At the top of the mountain are many vending machines, toilets, a restaurant and lodge. You can even use the bath up there on the mountain if needed. FYI: It's not a hot spring. Along the Diamond Trail on the ridge line the trail is well maintained. The Mochio Trail could be difficult if you are not used to finding your way, especially for the first half. I got spiderwebbed a few times at the start going through the bushes. The second half is along a forest road that is somewhat maintained near the end. Bus service to Tondabayashi Station at the end of the trail runs about once an hour till about 6pm. I had to wait a good 45 minutes for my bus to arrive.

1.    From Kintetsu Gose station [近鉄御所駅] there is a Nara Kotsu bus service [combined timetable - Kintetsu Osaka Abeno departure] to the Katsuragi Ropeway. You can take the ropeway to the top but I chose to hike it. Around the station there is a Family Mart a 5 minute walk from the station. The tourist information center has maps and the kind man working it the day I was there was very helpful.

2.    Up the hill behind the ropeway station is this gate to the trails. Please make sure to close it. Up the trail a minute or so is the cut off for the northern route [map]. I continued straight on the southern route. Both can be taken to reach the summit. There are no toilets between here and the summit.

3.    A short spur takes you to the waterfall in the background of this photo. I was more interested in this moss-covered table than the waterfall. 

4.        The trail up is a steep hike with stairs like this for the first third or so. I was sweating so much that I only had on my t-shirt despite the cold temperatures.

5.    A few times there are views looking out over the Nara basin. The surrounding forest covers most of the trail.

6.    Along this well developed trail there are many bridges and walkways such as this made of wood and metal. 

7.    The maze of exposed roots in Kurama, Kyoto is one of the iconic images of Japan. I found this area much more scenic and much less traveled.

8.    The stream that this route follows on and off through out the accent flows these rocks. The carving on the rocks says "Osaka" [阪大] on the horizontal. I'm unable to read the vertical text.

9.    This is the official marker for the summit of Mt. Katsuragi [葛城山] at 959.2m. The pole says 大切にしましょう三角点 | Keep the importance of triangulation points and 国土地理院 | Geospatial Information Authority of Japan.

10.    The summit was crowed with people. Families and couples, groups of friends having lunch. There was a small cafeteria, toilets, vending machines, and a payphone. There is also a campground and lodge offering baths and rooms. Katsuragi is one of the main stopping points on the Diamond Trail that I have only recently become aware of.  Many of these hikers ascended the mountain somewhere up or down the trail from here. I can guess that many people do what I did: getting up some place going along the spine of the range on the Diamond Trail then descending somewhere along the line.

11.    The Diamond Trail is also well developed with signage and toilets along the route. Near the peak there are many people but between the major stopping points was not too many people--even on a national holiday.

12.    The forest was peaceful and the air was suburb. Occasionally I could see a plane coming on their approach to Itami Airport through the tree cover.

13.    I took the Mochio Trail [持尾辻] down off the mountain. The map has a 迷 mark on it meaning the trail is not well defined and could be difficult to follow. In this photo the route is pretty apparent, but further down I did have to check my bearings a few times.

14.    View from the Mochio Trail looking towards Osaka city.

15.    A wild boar trap along the trail.

16.    I popped out of the mountains in a little hidden neighborhood called Mochio, Kanan-cho [河南町]. I never knew it was a place until I found my self there. 

17.    I was always intrigued my a little triangle shaped parking lot in downtown Tucson. This triangle shaped little garden reminded me of that.

18.    The view from the Mochio viewing platform [持尾展望台].

19.    Map of the Mochio area.

20.    My new car!

21.    On the way down to the bus station there were a few orange orchards.

22.    Kano [加納] bus stop on the Kongo Bus, Kawachi Line is the way to get back to the Tondabayashi Station on the Kintetsu Nagano Line. [timetable | route map]