Minoo Park: Osaka’s Own Quasi-National Park

The word Osaka immediately conjures up an image of neon lights, skyscrapers, bustling shopping streets and the city’s friendly and exuberant people. Osaka city is so big and sprawling that it’s hard to believe you can hike through thick forests and enjoy one of Japan’s top ten waterfalls, only half an hour north of Umeda Station. Minoo Park’s seeming unlikeliness may be the reason it is not on more tourists’ radar.

Minoo Park’s unusual location may be the reason more tourists don’t know about it. Which is a very good thing!

Minoo Park offers the ideal escape from the bustle of city life. The easy trails and fun attractions make it a great day trip for nature lovers and families alike.

The park gets especially popular in November. Visitors from all over Kansai come to enjoy the autumn leaves.

Do you want to try some fun hiking trails leading to a beautiful waterfall? Want to eat some deep-fried maple leaves?

Would you like to visit an insect museum (it’s not half as gross as it sounds!)? Do you like gorgeous mountain temples nestled among lovely scenery?

If so, you’re going to have a blast at the Minoo Park and Waterfall near Osaka.

 

What You Can Do in Minoo Park

Hiking

A hiking trail in Minoo Park in Osaka, Japan. The path is on a dirt trail with trees and plants all around.

Minoo Park offers some great hiking trails. Most aren’t very difficult.

You’ll see about 980 different species of plants as you stroll along. You’ll also see monkeys (rumored to have come from the now-defunct Minoo Zoo) and deer.

The main hiking trail to the Waterfall is paved, which means it’s possible to hike in the park even in winter, while the trees keep things relatively cool in summer.

Minoo Park offers an escape from Osaka’s relentless cityscape any time of the year.

 

Minoo WaterfallMinoo Park Waterfall with a couple under a red Japanese style umbrella on a red bridge in front of the waterfall.

The Minoo Waterfall is the park’s main attraction and the reason for the park’s name.

 

Winnowing

According to tradition, the waterfall resembles the process of winnowing.

What’s winnowing?

It’s when rice husks get separated from the rice grain and collected in a basket known as a “mino.”

The surrounding area gradually took on the name of the waterfall. Various buildings (including a temple) sprang up along the hiking trail.

 

The Waterfall

The waterfall stands an impressive 108 feet high and 16 feet wide. Standing on the bridge on a sunny day allows you to enjoy the rainbow the mist creates in the air.

The waterfall feeds into the Minoo River, which you’ll see as you approach the waterfall. The hiking trail follows the river and gives you many great photo opportunities.

 

The Trail to the Waterfall

The trail to the waterfall (Takamichi) begins near Hankyu Minoo Station. It’s roughly three kilometers (1.86 miles) long.

You’ll see cherry trees in full blossom as you walk along the trail in the spring. In fall it’s all about the red maple leaves. You’ll see some beautiful old cedar and pine trees, too.

Families love to visit the park on weekends – and it gets crowded. Older Japanese folks go throughout the year.

Some people like to meditate near the waterfall. You have benches to sit on and stalls selling snacks and drinks.

 

Trail Difficulty

If you’re looking for some serious hiking, you’ll have to look elsewhere. The paved trail doesn’t offer a very tough challenge.

The first half is a gentle incline, although the latter half through the forest gets a bit steeper. It takes most people between 30 to 45 minutes to reach the waterfall.

A typhoon damaged the original path in 2017. The current path uses a detour. It’s been said that the original path will be restored sometime in the near future.

The detour is a bit more uneven and includes some stairs.

 

Making Some New Friends

Looking for a fun way to practice your Japanese?

The elderly visitors are quite friendly and happy to chat. They love stopping to talk to anyone who might want to speak with them.

You’ll see benches and tea shops along the first half of the trail. If you sit down and look approachable, you’ll soon find yourself in conversation.

Many of these old folks will tell you some really fascinating stories. Enjoy!

 

Momiji Tempura

The TreesRed, Yellow, and Orange Momoji, or Japanese Maple Leaf Trees

The term “Momiji” refers to the leaves of the maple tree – particularly when they turn red in the fall.

Japanese gardeners love to use maple. The trees get planted extensively in temples and traditional gardens.

Minoo Park offers one of the best places in Kansai to see maple leaves in a natural setting.

 

The Snack

The maple leaves get made into a special snack – Momiji tempura. This tempura features maple leaves fried in a light and crispy batter.

You’ll see dozens of stalls selling the regional delicacy the moment you leave the station.

The leaf itself doesn’t have much flavor, but the lack of flavor brings out the sweet and salty contrast of the tempura even further.

Don’t buy the pre-made momiji tempura. You’ll see people selling it in bags. Keep walking along the trail until you find vendors making tempura on the spot.

Tempura tastes best when it’s warm and still has a bit of a crunch to it – and momiji tempura is no exception.

The leaf itself doesn’t have much flavor, but in my opinion, that really brings out the sweet and salty contrast of the tempura even further.

 

Ryuanji TempleRyuanji Temple taken from afar. The orange posts and red bridge can be seen leading up to the temple. The temple is at the top of the hill.

Ryaungi temple sits about halfway between Minoo Station and the waterfall. You won’t miss the red bridge leading to the entrance.

Ryuanji is one of the oldest Shugendo temples. It goes all the way back to 658. The Shugendo sect mixes Shinto mountain worship with Buddhist practices.

The temple seems right at home in these beautiful surroundings. It’s a great place to take some pictures – especially in the fall.

The Japanese lottery began in this temple. It’s the place to go for good luck charms or if you’re contemplating a risky business deal.

 

Minoo Insect Museum

3,000 insect species live in the park. You can learn more about them (and many other insects) in the museum.

The museum houses over 10,000 samples. The samples including many species you won’t see outside of Japan.

 

The Butterflies

The highlight (as far as I’m concerned) of the museum is the 200 hundred live butterflies.

You get to walk around a fairly large room while butterflies flutter all around you.

 

Hours

  • 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Last Entry: 4:30pm
  • Closed on Tuesdays and for the New Year Holidays

 

Admission

  • Adults and High School Students: 270 yen
  • Junior High School Students an Younger: Free

 

For More Information

Minoo Park Museum of Insects Homepage 

 

Other Hiking Trails

Minoo Park offers several other hiking trails. They vary in difficulty and length.

Some of the trails lead to observation spots where you can get a great view over Osaka. One of the coolest spots gives you a view of the distinctive Tempozan Ferris Wheel.

A trail starting at the waterfall leads to Katsuoji Temple. This 1,200-year-old temple is known for its collection of Daruma dolls – and it’s luck. Like Ryuanji, it has a reputation for good fortune.

The trail to the temple is a little over 2.5 miles (4km) long. It takes most hikers just over an hour to walk (each way).

Another hiking trail leads to a gorge. It’s neat to watch the water flowing from the river into this valley between two mountains.

 

My Suggestion

The map near the entrance shows all the trails and how long they are. If your memory is anything like mine, take a photo of the map before you enter the park.

Another option: grab an English brochure about the park from Minoo Station when you arrive.

 

Momiji Hot Spring Foot Bath

I suggest you stop at the Momiji Hot Spring Foot Bath on your way back from the waterfall.

Soaking your feet in hot spring water is the perfect way to end your hike.

You can soak them for free. For a small fee, you can borrow a towel to dry your feet off afterward.

 

Onsen

Did the foot bath get you thinking about going to an onsen? You’re in luck – there’s a bath right next door!

Head to the Mino Kankou Hotel near the park entrance. The hotel has several baths and a sauna. Day visitors can use them for a small fee.

 

Admission – Weekdays (10:00am to 6:00pm)

  • Adults: 1,580 yen
  • Elementary School Children: 980 yen
  • Toddlers: 580
  • Infants: Free

 

Admission – Weekends/National Holidays (10:00am to 6:00pm)

  • Adults: 1,980 yen
  • Elementary School Children: 980 yen
  • Toddlers: 580
  • Infants: Free

*Note: During the times when their pool is open the admission for elementary school children is 1,080 yen and 680 yen for toddlers.

The onsen offers a great view of Minoo Park’s lush landscape. The outdoor bath on the roof gives you fantastic views over Osaka.

 

Is Minoo Park Worth Visiting?Minoo Park and the Waterfall take from a top, aerial view.

Yes, if you need a break from the city.

I get antsy when I spend too long in a city. I’m a country kid at heart. I don’t like noise, concrete, or large amounts of people.

A visit to Minoo Park would be essential if I spent a few days in Osaka and wasn’t visiting Koya-san or any place like that.

Minoo Park makes a fantastic addition to any trip to Osaka. But if you can tolerate big cities better than I can, I’d say you could swap it out for another Osaka attraction. The only exception would be in November.

You should always go if you get a chance to visit Minoo Park in November. The red maple leaves bring the park to life.

 

Hours

Minoo Park stays open 24/7.

The earliest train gets to Minoo Station at 5:10am (the first train starts from Ishibashi Station in Osaka). The last train departs at 12:16am the next day.

You’ve got plenty of time to explore the Park.

 

Admission

It’s free to enter the park and walk the trails.

 

Getting to Minoo ParkAn aerial shot of the train lines and platforms of Osaka Station

Minoo Park is a short walk from Minoo Station on the Hankyu Minoo Line.

It takes about a half an hour to get to Minoo from Umeda station. The trip costs 370 yen each way.

 

From Umeda Station

Take the Hankyu Takarazuka Line for Takarazuka. You can take either the local train or the express.

Get off at Ishibashi. Transfer to the Minoo Line in the direction of Minoo.

You’ll arrive at Minoo Station in about 6 minutes. Take exit 1 and continue straight ahead. Cross at the crossing next to the police box.

Continue along the street. You’ll pass lots of snack stores and momiji leaves. Keep going until you reach the park entrance.

*Note: You’ll sometimes see Minoo (both the park and the station) spelled  Minoh. There’s actually another station in Japan spelled Mino (in Okayama Prefecture).

It’s nowhere near the park. Make sure you get directions to the right station before setting off. You don’t want to wind up at the other Mino (which is several hours away!).

If you’re using Hyperida.com, the station you need to put in is “Minoo.”

 

Insider Tips

Visit the park early in the morning (if you can). Getting up early really pays in Japan. Most people don’t seem to get going until well after 10:00am or so.

If you get to the park around 9:30am, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the scenery in peace and quiet.

Don’t feed or interact with the monkeys. Feeding the monkeys leads to aggressive behavior. Trying to touch them or play games with them usually ends badly. Don’t.

 

Would You Like to Visit Minoo Park?

If so, what do you want to do there? Do you want to hike up to the waterfall, or are you more interest in trying maple-leaf tempura? Let us know in the comments!

Also, don’t forget to share this article with your hiking buddies or your friends who like tempura! You may have just found your next fun place to visit near Osaka.

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