For beginner hikers in Kansai area, one of the easier hiking courses is probably Mt. Kongo, located in the borders of Nara and Osaka. Apar from that it is the tallest in Osaka. For these reasons, many people of all ages come here for a hike all year round.
Some may prefer driving to this place since the bus schedule is infrequent. However, don’t worry, I and my friends have came here using public transport (train and bus). As long as you start the journey early, you would have no problem in completing the climb (it took us around 5-6 hours). We took the Nankai train from Namba station (なんば）to Kawachinagano station (河内長野). From there, we took the Nankai bus to the Kongo Tozan Guchi bus stop (金剛登山口). The bus ride will take around 35 minutes. When you come down the bus, turn left in the direction towards the start of the hiking area. Most people who stop at the bus stop will be probably be heading the same destination as you so following them can also be a great idea.
What makes the hike less difficult is the nicely arranged log stairs, clear labels and trails all the way to the summit. At the end of the climb, you will be rewarded with a nice view and also the presence of magnificent temples and shrines.
During winter Mt. Kongo is covered in snow and the view is simply magical. It is better to call up the tourist office in Mt. Kongo area to check out the weather conditions beforehand, especially if your main objective is to enjoy the hike in the snow. You can also check the webpage of Mt. Kongo. The website is in Japanese, English, Korean, and Chinese. Do bring some spikes or clamp-ons for your hiking shoes during the winter season. Although there will be snow in the higher grounds of the mountain, the ground might be covered in ice, which makes it difficult to climb without the right gears.
Even if you do not like hiking, you can still enjoy Mt. Kongo by a ropeway cable car. Firstly, take the Nankai line from Namba station to Kawachinagano station. From there, board Nankai bus and go to Chihaya Ropeway bus stop (千早ロープウェイ前バス停). The bus journey should take around 40 minutes.
Do you have any particularly favourite places for Hiking in Kansai area? If so, make sure to share your recommendations in the comments!