Yama no be no Michi


This is a fantastic hike through farms and countryside just a little south of Nara city. It also happens to be the only trail near Nara city that is detailed in Lonely Planet’s hiking in Japan book. From Kintetsu or JR Tenri station, walk east through the city or the arcade until you get to Tenri-kyo, the New Life Church of Buddhism, where you definitely need to stop. Everyone you ask about this place will give you a different answer, but its some sort of new branch of Buddhism that is headquartered here. Their temple, with free entrance, has the biggest tatami room I have ever seen in my life. From Tenri kyo head south and keep looking for sign markers, the trail does a few turns before leaving Tenri and joining the Yama no-be-no Michi. For the next 10 kilometers, the trail weaves around rice, persimmon, and mikan farms, and you will have to work to stay on it. Just keep looking for signposts, and stay at the foothills of the mountain. Eventually the trail comes to Omiwa jinja, a beautiful shrine set back in the woods. Just down the road from here towards Sakurai is an enormous concrete Torii hanging over city streets, where they have a nice fireworks festival in August. The trail continues to Sakurai along roads, alternatively you can take a bus or hop on the fantastically slow and diminutive JR local to Tenri or Sakurai.