Minō Park Falls is in the foothills of north Osaka just a 30-minute train ride from Umeda Station. While it’s more crowded in autumn, spring is one of the best times to visit. Minō has something for everyone—especially hikers and families with children. If you’re going to Minō Waterfall, it’s best to plan ahead. You can combine a day of easy hiking with a visit to Osaka’s famed Instant Noodle Museum, drop in at the Minō Park
Museum, or explore Osaka’s craft beer scene. Whatever your fancy, Minō makes for an awesome day out.
How to get to Minō Park Falls
The two best things about Minō Park are that it’s free and that it’s easy to get to. From Osaka it only takes 30 minutes, two trains, and ¥270. The fresh air is free, the walk won’t cost you—even your legs—and everything else is what you pay for. If you’re lucky, you may get some Minō monkey sightings thrown in.
- Go to Osaka-Umeda Station
- Take the Hankyu Takarazuka Main Line
- Change at Ishibashi Handai Mae Station
- Hop on the Hankyu Minō Line on the opposite side
- Pay ¥270 at the end
Setting out for Minō Park Waterfall
If you just want to enjoy the hike to Minō Falls, or the extended hike to Katsuoji Temple, a good pair of walking shoes is fine. If you’re wanting to go off the beaten path, it’s better to have at least low ankle boots.
Once you get to Minō Station, remember to pop around the side of the building to the visitor information office. You can pick up brochures on local places, and basic hiking maps are available in English, Chinese, and Korean.
Stock up on snacks at the convenience store. Once in Minō Park there isn’t much except expensive restaurants and a coffee shop. There are vending machines around, but at Minō Waterfall itself, you can buy fast food treats and there’s a touristy diner too.
Hiking to Minō Park Falls
Most people come to Mino Park to view the waterfall. It’s a 2.7km hike from Minō Station or about 40 minutes. However, with sightseeing stops or rests along the way, it may take 1.5 hours or more to Minō Falls, and 40 minutes straight back.
The only tacky thing about Minō Park is the huge 70s looking hotspring tourist hotel with a rising elevator shaft. If anything, it marks the unmistakable way to go. At the foot of the hotel is the Minoh Visitor Center booth where you can pick up an English news pamphlet on seasonal wildlife. The public hotspring foot spas are temporarily closed.
The park itself begins at the bridge with the snazzy Yuzuya restaurant and cafe and the bicycle parking area. This lower section is pretty scenic and easy going to the Minō Insect Museum and then to the end of Ryuanji Temple.
From here, there’s a fork in the road at the Yamamoto Coffee Shop—which is a really nice old-fashioned coffee shop with scenic river views. Currently, you have to follow the upper ridge path to Minō Falls as the main lower ridge road is still under heavy repair.
Yamamoto Coffee Shop marks the 1.2km point, and from here the walking gets pretty uphill and forestry. The lower ridge road is more comfortable, and, if the repairs are done, you have to walk up this way in the busy season and down the other. The two paths come together just before you get the first glimpse of Minō Waterfall.
Souvenir shopping in Minō
If you’re into souvenirs, the best place to buy these is outside Minō Station, or along the road leading to the park entrance. Shops near the Minō Tourist Hotel are kind of tacky. The Minō area is famous for growing yuzu citrus. There are various yuzu flavored sweets, dressings, condiments, and even yuzu beer that you can buy.
A favorite snack is the sweet and crunchy Mino maple leaf tempura. The best brand is the now dominant Organic momiji no tempura. Their shop sells other quality foodie souvenirs, or try a couple of shops further up. The best quality yuzu confectionery and condiments are from the Yuzuya shop near Minō Park entrance.
Where to eat in Minō
Outside of peak spring and autumn seasons, there are no food vendors in the park area. Your best affordable bet is to bring a packed bento lunch, snacks, or buy something around Minō Station.
In Minō Walking Street
Just around the entrance of Minō Station is a tourist information office. Look over to the left and you’ll see a big green billboard. That’s the entrance to Minō’s walking street that many first time visitors miss. Near the entrance is a Takoyaki shop, and at the end is a Mister Donut.
Warabi Mochi Kamakura: A great place to start the day. They sell top-notch warabi mochi, mochi drinks similar to bubble tea, and coffee. Check out their Facebook page.
Beer Shop Umehara: A small shop with a true connoisseur collection of beers and other alcohol. They used to serve light snacks and draft at the counter before the pandemic. They open from 14:00 to 20:00 and are closed on Mondays.
Matsumoto Coffee: They have automatic espresso machines outside the shop for takeaways. Inside, you can sit down to coffee from freshly roasted beans.
The road to Minō Park Falls
Along the road that leads to the iconic eyesore of Minō Tourist Hotel, there are a couple of places to grab something to eat. There’s a coffee shop called Percaffe Bianca just as you go up the hill, and a Japanese Spanish place called Kajikasou which opens from 11:00 am.
In Minō Park
There are some really nice places to eat inside Minō Park, but they are quite exclusive and it’s best to book in advance.
Yuzuya: Subtitled ‘Franc et Elegant’, this scenic venue is right at the bridge to Minō Park. It’s well worth popping into their downstairs cafe and confectionary shop.
Cinque Piu 5+: An exclusive reservation only venue. It’s over the bridge that also leads to Saikoji Temple. They serve Italian and French style food. Lunch starts from ¥3,600 and reservations at 072-735-7535.
Sansou Otowa: Opposite Cinque Piu is a beautiful old ryokan. You can enjoy traditional kaiseki lunch and dinner sets here. They take reservations in English via their website.
Ichijunisai Ueno: This is a Michelin 2-star outfit featuring Japanese cuisine. Lunch and dinner are by reservation only.
Isoyoshi Kawadokoya: An over-the-river venue, but still relatively pricey. They open from April 24 to September 21. Reservations are in Japanese only.
Hang out with butterflies at Minō Park Insect Museum
Along the riverside path it’s impossible to miss the Minō Park Insectarium. Here they have model displays of bugs in their natural environments, some live bugs in ‘vacation dwellings’, and others which are dried out on display.
There’s not much information in English, unless you’re into Latin names, but the pictures speak for themselves. Check out their amazing collection of taxidermized butterflies. Some are on loan until May 9th, 2022.
The best thing, however, is the butterfly house. It’s like a small greenhouse with loads of butterflies flying around with quaint feeding stations. Entry to Minō Park Insect Museum is only ¥280 and it’s a unique and fun experience. They have a little souvenir shop if you just want bug paraphernalia.
Minō Park Insect Museum
Get to know Minō Park temples
Not surprisingly, Minō Park owes a lot to its spiritual heritage. Two of its temples were established way back in the day (around 685) by the aesthete and founder of Shugendō Buddhism, En No Gyoja.
One is Saikoji. Opposite a bookshop you’ll see the sign pointing up a steep driveway. It was the first sacred spot in Japan to enshrine the worship of Kangiten—a form of the god Ganesha. It’s also popular for Daikokuten who is one of the seven gods of good fortune or shichifuku.
It’s a small and quiet place, but if you walk through the back you’ll find a hiking path. At the pathway fork you can take a 10 min detour to an elevated viewpoint. The fork to the left eventually leads back down to the waterfall path near to Cinque Piu 5+ restaurant.
The larger temple is Ryuanji. You will walk under its famous Zuiun Bridge with its Phoenix Pavillion to the right. The main hall here was Japan’s first temple to the goddess Benzaiten (Saraswati) who supposedly led the aesthete En No Gyoja to Minō Waterfall. She’s another one of the seven gods of fortune. To the left inside the grounds you’ll find a staircase to the upper section. It’s quite picturesque and you can often encounter monkeys foraging around.
Find more things to do in and around Minō City
Walking all the way to Minō Park Waterfall and back again is a solid half day activity or more. There are a number of other activities you can combine with a visit to Minō.
Discover and create your own world of cup noodles
For a fun day, especially for kids, you can first head out to the Instant Ramen Museum. You take the same train from Osaka Umeda, However, you don’t get off at Ishibashi Handai Station, but continue one stop further to Ikeda Station.
Grab some award winning Minoh Beer
If you prefer more adult responsibility, you can drink your way to Minō Park Falls. The best place to start is the Minoh Beer Warehouse. They’re the manufacturers of Minō’s famous craft beers which have won a number of international awards over the years. Their Imperial Stout is said to be the best. The two Beer Belly bars in Osaka are run by the same company.
To get to Minoh Beer Warehouse, alight at the second stop (Makiochi) on the Minō Line and then walk 10 minutes. Their sit down bar with food opens at 11am (for brunch). Unfortunately, Beer Shop Umehara near Minō Station only opens at 14:00, but their Guinness draft comes highly recommended.
Hike from Minō Park to Katsuoji Temple
Once you reach the waterfall, you have the option of heading back to Minō Station or up and over the ridge to Katsuoji Temple. Follow the stairs up from the shops at Minō Falls which go towards the Dainichi Parking Lot. However, there are a couple of considerations before deciding to undertake this hike or not.
The only way back to civilization from Katsuoji Temple is the bus. The bus goes to Senri Chuo Station where you can connect to the Osaka Midosuji Subway Line, or the last stop is Kita Senri which connects to the Kyoto-Umeda Hankyu Line. The last bus leaves at 16:31 on weekdays, or 16:48 on weekends and holidays. It costs ¥500.
It’s a 3km walk to Katsuoji and takes around an hour. To enter the temple is ¥400 and it may only take an hour to go around. The best route is along the vehicle road, especially for casual walking or if you’re alone. There are a couple of forest hike turn offs on the path before you reach Minō Waterfall. The sign will say ‘car road’ or 車道・府道・方面 in Japanese.
To do these hikes, you should be properly geared for hiking as the paths are not so well-maintained anymore. All these paths eventually lead to just below the Minō Visitor Center on the car road, which is then 2km to Katsujoji.
Just after the 1km road sign to Katsuoji there’s a detour path called, Katsuoji Hiking Trail. It winds down, up to a picnic area, and then comes out across from the Katsuoji bus terminal. This route adds an extra 2km, so check your time carefully.
About Katsuoji Temple
Katsuoji is a unique and interesting temple. For sightseeing, it’s best to visit during spring and into summer for various blooms, and especially in fall for the leaves. The temple is famous for its Daruma fortune dolls. The main hall, however, is dedicated to a thousand-armed Avalokiteshvara (Senju Kannon) made of sandalwood. It’s koi lake has a shrine to the fortune goddess Benzaiten who presides over water, music, arts, and learning.
Minō Park Visitor Center
The main Minō Park Visitor Center is closed for the winter months of December through March. They have regular activities for children such as crafts, learning about nature, and insect hunting. For adults, there are organized walking activities.
You need to be able to interact in Japanese for these. However, the center has an interesting display of taxidermied animals, butterfly and insect displays, and some basic information in English. From Minō Park Waterfall, the visitor center is 1km walking along the car road.
From this point on, you can hike up higher into the forested areas. However, you’d have to start your day here by taking a bus to Katsuoji Temple and hiking up the road 30 minutes (2km) if you do not have a car.
Buses to Katsuōji are infrequent. At Senri Chuo Subway station you have to go to bus terminal 4 along the road adjoining the plaza area with the bus information center. The bus often starts at Hankyu Kita Senri Station.
- Senri Chuo to Katsuoji: 9:10, 11:15, 14:15 weekdays / 9:00, 9:55, 10:55, 12:10, 13:10, 14:45 weekends
- Kita Senri to Katsuoji: 9:00, 11:05, 14:05 weekdays / 8:50, 9:45, 10:45, 12:00, 13:00, 14:35 weekends