A Weekend in Yoshino
This is one of the most famous cherry blossom viewing destinations in Japan, with over 30,000 trees ranging up the mountain, in bloom for most of April. In autumn, the area is vivid with red and orange leaves, for scenic hiking. Rich in history and natural beauty, it’s a perfect weekend escape.
The Yoshinoyama area is quite compact and easy to explore on foot, with buses doing a loop up to the mountain observatories in spring and autumn. It takes just over an hour to reach Yoshino Station from Nara Park by express train. From there, you can either hike or take the ropeway up the mountain.
Where to Stay
There are plenty of accommodation options from simple to luxe, but you must book in advance, especially in peak season. The classic ryokan experience includes dinner and breakfast. Many have outdoor onsen baths with views over the mountains. Ask about local crafts; your ryokan can book workshops and experiences.
Yoshino is renowned for kuzukiri and kuzumochi, a translucent jelly like dessert made from kudzu starch, usually served with black sugar syrup. After checking into your accommodation, explore the area and keep your eyes peeled for this intriguing local specialty.
At Nakai Shunpudo, a kudzu specialist shop, you can watch them make the sweets, and then eat the results. The shop has a space where you can enjoy your kudzu with a cup of tea and pleasant mountain views.
Yoshino is famous for clean water and cedar trees, making it the perfect environment for making washi paper and cedar chopsticks. You can ask your ryokan to arrange a visit to Fukunishi Washi Honpo, a world-famous paper maker, or try your hand at making chopsticks.
Hot Spring Bathing
After a long day of walking and exploring, a hot bath is a great way to relax and recover. Many of the traditional inns around Yoshino have outdoor onsen baths, so you can enjoy the changing seasons. At Ryokan Kato, bathers can relax in an outdoor stone bath, scented with floating leaves made from cedar wood.
Food & Drink
The main street is dotted with restaurants, serving Nara specialties like Kakinohazushi and even wild boar hot pot. Vegetarians will enjoy the thoughtful vegan dishes at Hanasaka Organic Cafe. Near Kinpusen-ji Temple, Tofu Chaya Hayashi serves fresh tofu and meat dishes. Try making tofu at their nearby kitchen factory.
Located over the Yoshinoyama Ohashi bridge, a short walk past the ropeway, Yoshinokuzu Yasokichi is a picturesque tea house that hangs out over the valley. It's a good spot for a cup of matcha with a view.
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