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yoshino and omine

yoshino and omine (吉野・大峯) are situated in the mountains of nara prefecture.  in recent history, mt. yoshino (吉野山) has become a popular tourist site for its thousands of cherry blossom trees planted throughout the mountain side.  situated at different altitudes, the four groves illuminate the mountain for over a month with their pink flowers when the trees are in bloom.  in fact, several japanese emperors throughout history are known to have visited the area during the cherry blossom season.  there have also been many poems and haikus have been written about mt. yoshino’s beauty.

originally, however, the kii mountain range gained its notoriety in the 7th century as a sacred area were the gods were enshrined.  it’s most popular site being perhaps koya-san.  specifically, yoshino and omine became a sacred site of the religious sect shugendo, which combines shinto, native japanese religion, with buddhism, which was imported from china.  to this day many worshipers and pilgrims make their way through the sacred pilgrimages in this mountainous area.

yoshino and omine’s mountain views must be breath taking during cherry blossom season, though probably crowded.  there are many mom-and-pop restaurants, a few minshuku (similar to a bead and breakfast), and shops selling crafts.  the second best season to travel to this area is likely to be during the fall foliage.  from osaka abenobashi station (大阪阿部野橋駅), which is next to tenno-ji station (天王寺駅) on the loop line/kanjousen (環状線), it takes about one and a half hours at 950 yen to reach yoshino station (吉野駅), the express is 1450 yen but you only save about 15 minutes.  then you’ll have a short walk to the cable ropeway, which costs 350 yen each way.

on a limited schedule i would not recommend this location as there are many wonderful places to see in kyoto and nara.  but if you want to photograph thousands of cherry blossoms on mountain sides with great views of valleys below, then this is probably a top notch location.

kinpusen-ji (金峯山寺) is the main temple of shugendo religion and located about a 10 minute walk from the cable ropeway.  you’ll walk through three gates to get to the shrine; the black gate, the copper gate, and a final gate.  a unique feature of this temple, is that its interior pillars are unpolished tree trunks.  it was very pretty to see these natural shapes, rather than carved and polished cylindrical columns.

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close by on the route is yoshimizu shrine (吉水神社).  it was dedicated to the emperor go-daigo who ruled japan in the early 14th century.  it was later used as a site for pilgrim accommodation.

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dedicated to a female shinto god associated with water, yoshino mikumari shrine (吉野水分神社) is further up hill, about 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) away.  it is also connected to emperor go-daigo.

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kinpu shrine (金峯神社) is just over 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) past yoshino mikumari shrine.  the shrine worships a local deity, which is a guardian of the local area and its gold mines.  a hutch near by still serves as a training place for buddhism.

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additional photos from the yoshino and omine area.

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map of the location:

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