Mino is a tranquil and traditional town located just north of Osaka City. Sparsely populated and surrounded by abundant nature, it’s the ideal escape from the crowded, gray metropolis. Known for a quasi-national park, peaceful onsen resort, and award-winning craft beer, Mino has something for every kind of traveler.
Mino Park may not be a full-blown national park, but it definitely delivers. It’s overflowing with activities — hiking trails, ancient temples, and diverse wildlife abound. Thanks to it’s compact size, you can enjoy all the park has to offer in one day.
The main hiking trail, Mino Taki Michi, stretches about three kilometers (1.8 mi) and follows the Mino River through a forested valley, leading to the area’s namesake waterfall. The trail is paved, making it an easy hike, but there are more physically demanding ones as well if that’s more your thing. There are plenty of vending machines and food stalls to keep you fed and hydrated along the way, and you may even catch a glimpse of a wild monkey or two.
The scenery shifts with the seasons. Cherry blossoms flower on the temple grounds in spring. During summer, dining verandas serving Japanese cuisine are erected over the river — the cool air wafting up from below chases away the sweltering heat. Winter often brings blankets of snow, painting the quiet landscape in white splendor.
Fall is the best time to visit, however, when the maple leaves decorate every backdrop in a red and yellow kaleidoscope. Fall is also the time to sample Mino’s famous delicacy — momiji tenpura aka deep-fried maple leaves. It’s a lot tastier than it sounds!
Mino Park’s principal attractions are all located along the Mino Taki Michi trail. Be sure to check out the following as you hike your way through:
- Mino Falls: The 33-meter-tall waterfall wreathed with greenery makes for a glorious sight, and is well worth the hike. The name Mino comes from the fall’s resemblance to a traditional farming technique called winnowing (the Japanese word for “winnow basket” is minō).
- Ryuan-ji Temple: A venerated and historic Buddhist temple founded by legendary mystic En no Gyoja. The grounds are breathtaking and include one of only four statues of the goddess Benzaiten in all of Japan.
- Mino Park Insectarium: An informative museum filled with bug specimens both living and dead (including fossils). Don’t miss the butterfly garden!
- Ichijunisai Ueno: A Michelin-starred restaurant serving traditional Japanese cuisine based on the seasons.
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