“Mountain Climbing” in the City – Osaka’s 8 Lowest Mountains
With the end of the hot simmering summer came a comfortable season with the refreshing autumn breeze. The best outdoor activity this season, hands down, is hiking! Osaka in many minds is an urban landscape of buildings after buildings, but it is also home to spaces where you can enjoy exploring the nature. Going out is not the easiest activity nowadays, but here are Osaka City’s eight lowest mountains for a mini day hike! How many mountains can you name in this flat City of Osaka??
No. 1_ Mt. Tempozan | Japan’s Second Smallest Mountain
First up is Mt. Tempozan, located within Tempozan Park, about 10-minute walk from Osakako Station, near the Kaiyukan Aquarium. Mt. Tempozan used to be known as the smallest mountain in Japan. Following the Great East Japan earthquake, though, it the second smallest in the country after Mt. Hiyori in Sendai City, which sank as a result of a land subsidence caused by the earthquake. Of special note at Mt. Tempozan is that you can get a Mountain Climbing Certificate. Visit one of the restaurants in the Tempozan area, and they can issue one for you. Also, look over the Anjigawa River when you are at the summit. You might get lucky and see a beautiful sunset, a perk for mountain climbing in the Bay Area☆
No. 2_ Mt. Showa | A Spectacular View
Mt. Showa has a special connection with Osaka Metro. It is located about 2 km from Taisho Station—a bit of a walk for Osaka—but it has the best view among the lowest mountains of Osaka. Mt. Showa is a man-made mountain born in 1970, made with the soil that was dug out during the construction for the then Osaka Municipal Subway. Chishima Park, home to Mt. Showa, was renovated in 2020 after it was badly damaged by a typhoon and many tall trees had to be cut down in 2018. The whole reconstruction was done with a theme of the “four seasons park with a view of the port”. Today, from atop the 33 m tall Mt. Showa is a spectacular view of mountains and the sea.
No. 3_Mt. Shotenyama | A Summit Within the Temple Grounds
The third on our list is Mt. Shotenyama, about 15-minute walk from Tengachaya Station. To the north of the mountain is a park where Shotenzan Kofun, an ancient burial mound where various artifacts such as earthenware and saddleries were discovered, sits. The Mt. Shotenyama summit uniquely sits within the grounds of the Shoenji Temple. Kids used to compete with each other to climb the camphor tree—the symbol of Shotenyama Park—to get a good view of the Tsutenkaku Tower, but climbing is now forbidden.
No. 4_Mt. Chausuyama | A Historic Battleground
A short distance from Tennoji Station, Mt. Chausuyama is located at Tennoji Park. The name “Chausuyama” (literally “Mt. Tea-grinding mortar”) comes from its shape that resembles the mortar used to grind Matcha green tea. In fact, it is a commonly used name for mountains with similar shapes and about 50 Chausuyama exist in Japan. Osaka’s Chausuyama is known as the site where Tokugawa Ieyasu (one of the three Great Generals during the Sengoku Period; the first Shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate) set up camp during the winter campaign, and also where Sanada Yukimura (a general who served Toyotomi Hideyoshi who built the Osaka Castle) set up camp during the summer campaign of the Siege of Osaka. Stone steps and thick trees create a feeling of true mountain climbing, and the bench at the summit is perfect for taking a break. There is a theory that Chausuyama is kofun—an ancient burial mound—but it remains to be a topic for a debate.
No. 5_ Mt. Sanada | Explore the History
No. 5 is Mt. Sanada, which has a connection to yet another general from the Sengoku Period, Sanada Yukimura. About 7-minute walk from Tamatsukuri Station, Sanko Shrine sits on top of Mt. Sanada. Within the shrine grounds are a bronze statue and a monument honoring Sanada Yukimura and a secret underground passage that is said to be connected all the way to Osaka Castle. Every year in fall, the gates to the underground passage open and visitors can see inside. Other historic landmarks related to Sanada-maru (a citadel built by Sanada Yukimura during the Siege of Osaka) are scattered around nearby, making this area great for a historic exploration.
No. 6_Mt. Tsurumi Shinzan | The Highest and The Newest
Mt. Tsurumi Shinzan is located at Tsurumiryokuchi Park in front of Tsurumi-ryokuchi Station. With the elevation of 45 m (39 m in actuality because of the land subsidence), it is the newest and the highest mountain among the eight lowest mountains of Osaka. Former site of a landfill, Mt. Tsurumi is made of soil and the ashes from a waste incineration plant that used to be next door. The trail at the foot of the mountain is a nice spot for a stroll/mountain climbing♪ And, since it’s located within Tsurumiryokuchi Park, there’s a lot to do!
No. 7 & 8_Ancient Burial Mounds – Tezukayama Kofun & Okachiyama Kofun
Osaka’s Eight Lowest Mountains include kofun, ancient burial mounds. Tezukayama Kofun is located about 10-minute walk to the east of Tamade Station. A powerful family is said to have lived in the residential Tezukayama area since the ancient times. The key-hole shaped kofun that sits among residences was built around late 4th century to early 5th century. Haniwa clay figures that were commonly buried with the dead have been found here, and Tezukayama Kofun is designated as a national historic site. A permit is required to climb the kofun. I haven’t done it myself, but I’d like to—I imagine the sense of liberation you get at the top would be great.
The last but not the least of the eight lowest mountains is another ancient burial ground, Okachiyama Kofun, located about 20-minute walk from Tsuruhashi Station. It is presumed this kofun used to be key-hole shaped, but only the circular portion remains today with the rectangular frontage part turned a park. The name Okachiyama—literally “the winning mountain”—originates in the victory of the Tokugawa clan who set up camp here during the winter campaign of the Siege of Osaka. Katsuyama-dori—literally “winning mountain avenue”—that runs by Okachiyama Kofun also takes its name from the same historic event.
A Day to Conquer Osaka’s 8 Lowest Mountains
So, what do you think? Interested in hiking at the Osaka’s 8 Lowest Mountains this weekend?
It is possible to visit all 8 mountains in one day and Osaka Metro’s 1-day pass, Enjoy Eco Card, can help you make the conquest smooth and easy. Remember, with this pass, you get unlimited rides on not only Osaka Metro subway lines but also Osaka City Buses, which would be convenient for reaching destinations like Mt. Showa and Okachiyama Kofun that are a bit of a walk from the metro stations.
Visit these mountains (and numerous sites around the mountains) and enjoy the nature right here in the city!
[Access] About 10 mins walk from Exit 5 at Osakako Station.
[Access] About 28 mins walk from Exit 3 at Taisho Station.
[Access] About 8 mins walk from Tengachaya Station.
[Access] About 9 mins walk from Exit 19 at Tennoji Station.
[Closed] Open daily
[Access] About 7 mins walk from Exit 2 at Tamatsukuri Station.
[Access] About 11 mins walk from Exit 1 at Tsurumi-ryokuchi Station.
[Access] About 10 mins walk from Exit 3 at Tamade Station.
[Access] About 20 mins walk from Tsuruhashi Station.
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