Exploring the hills of Minoh is classic Japan cycling: winding roads, sudden steep climbs, lush scenery, picturesque streams and monkeys.
Table of Contents
- Introduction >
- Route >
- Getting out of the City >
- First sign of Mountains >
- Longer Route to Emma's Cafe >
- Katsuoji Temple >
- Winding roads >
- Return down the Inagawa River >
- Points to Watch >
- Final thoughts >
At RBRJ we love exploring Minoh by bike. The route is accessible from Osaka, offers some climbs to get the heart racing and the cycling is beautiful. The Osaka to Minoh route is still somewhat of a hidden gem but provides just about everything you could want in day's ride.
The route can be shortened to around 58km and also lengthened to 70km and also up to 100km. Once you get up into the hills it's really up to you how much time you spend peddling around the gorgeous mountain roads.
At the end of the shorter route there is a small cafe and gift shop to put your feet up, have a coffee and have a wander around the spectacular Katsuoji temple. The temple is perched up on the mountain and boasts beautiful gardens, a pond and bridge which is all tied together with a lovely spiritual atmosphere.
See some of the ride to Katsuoji temple in our Escape the City to Minoh video.
The longer route goes past the dam and takes in some more gorgeous scenery before stopping at Emma Coffee for a coffee and a well-deserved croissant.
Getting out of the City
Getting out of the city and towards the mountains is relatively easy with some enjoyable parts to cycle.
From RBRJ the route starts along the Oogawa river which is one of the nicest paths to cycle along in Osaka city. It can get busy on weekends (and absolutely packed during cherry blossom season) but the cycle along the river towards the Yodogawa makes for a lovely ride to start the route.
Cycle path along the Oogawa river
After you reach the Yodogawa you head left, cross the service bridge and then take a right down the recently paved road which takes you down to water level.
New road down to Yodogawa river
The Yodogawa is a large river so this is a nice part where the scenery opens out and also has a few hills up and down to water level to warm up on and get the bike into some high and low gears.
After a short ride along the Yodogawa you’ll head back up to street level and then over the Nagarabashi bridge which takes you north across the Yodogawa.
After you cross the bridge you actually want to go left but you need to make a small right turn so you can go down the ramp and loop around to the left. If you go left there is only stairs which is OK but you'll need to hop off and carry the bike down a few stairs.
Useful ramp to take to avoid carrying down stairs
This next section goes under a bridge, over some train tracks and then is a straight cycle along the main road until you get to a set of lights that takes you left and over to the Kanzaki river.
Down ramp to Kanzaki river
From here you've got about 1km along the river before you head up onto a nice little side street that takes you along next to a stream and up to Hattori Ryokuchi park which offers a lovely little section cycling through the park and taking in some of the flowers and gardens.
The cycle from RBRJ to Hattori Ryokuchi park takes about 30 minutes and gets you through a fair bit of the urban cycling.
As you get onto the 43 which is the main road that takes you through Minoh town and to the base of the mountain, the surroundings slowly become less urban before you hit the base of the mountain where the real scenery and fun begins!
43 through Minoh town
First sign of Mountains
As the cycle continues through Minoh town the incline slowly starts to increase and you do raise a bit of elevation before you actually get to the base of the mountain. There are two smaller inclines on the way to the base which make for a good workout and a chance to go through the gears.
The climb starts as you hit a T intersection at the end of the 43 and you turn right. This road is also actually the 43. It’s here the road starts getting steeper and no doubt your heart rate will be increasing as you look for a rhythm to sit in for the climb. The last section of the climb gets up a 20% gradient and you’ll feel the legs burn as you breathe in some big ones to get yourself to a flatter section before the climbing continues.
There are a couple of hairpin turns and by now you would have climbed up a bit with the view of the town becoming more and more distant to the south. There is a nice little viewpoint and rest area about 1km into the climb which is tucked away on the left side of the road of a hairpin turn. If you are in need of a break and or would like to check out the view keep an eye out for the entrance.
Entrance to the lookout
The scenery will come alive with lovely trees, streams running in the gullies beside the road and other cyclists either flying down the hill or tackling the climb.
The climb continues up the 43 and after about 1km there will be a set of lights with a left turn that heads along the number road 4.
Longer Route past dam to Emma Coffee
If you turn left and head along the number 4 you’ll explore some amazing mountain scenery, rice fields and rural towns on the mountain. Some really beautiful cycling and for people looking for a longer ride we do recommend this route. You can head to Emma Coffee, have a coffee and a BLT and then start the decent. The decent from Emma Coffee is a slightly different route and does get quite steep with more traffic than on the route you would have just come up the mountain. We recommend this route and decent only for confident riders as it gets fast on the way down and there are some tricky man hole covers to deal with which always seem to be in the line you want to take around the bends.
This route is below:
As you approach Katsuoji temple the last stretch hits a 15% grade incline which will have you searching for your low gears and your remaining energy to get yourself to the top.
After the last push you’ll come down into the mountain area Aomatani where you’ll find Katsuoji temple. The temple has a gift shop and small cafe which is the perfect place to enjoy a coffee and take in the spectacular temple grounds.
Katsuoji temple and cafe entrance
This temple is one of the hidden gems in Kansai as it’s perched on a mountain without too many tourists. The temple has a bridge, pond and some lovely walks which go into the mountain making for some excellent sightseeing after the ride. The temple is 400 yen to enter and we do think the price of entry is well-worth it.
The cafe has some basic food selections, ice cream, coffee and a free drink station that you can fill up your water bottle with cold water.
Some of the best parts of the Minoh route are the amazing winding roads which circle around the mountain. Wish lush scenery and the chance to spot some monkeys it’s easy to spend another hour or more exploring the different roads around the mountain. There are valleys which suddenly appear, beautiful large ceder tress and also beautiful little streams running alongside the road.
The roads really are a pleasure to ride. On a clear day with some sunshine dripping through overhanging trees you’ll no doubt have some magical little moments on the bike.
The decent on the way back offers the chance to hit some high speeds and put your bike through its paces around the curbs. There are some steep parts so be careful and on the road and keep an eye out for cars and other cyclists.
The roads are relatively quiet but there are cars that head up the mountain so stay focused and enjoy a safe decent down the mountain.
Return down the Inagawa River
The return on both the shorter and longer route will take in parts of the Inagawa river which will take you past Itami airport and then back onto the Kanzaki river for the return home.
The cycling paths next to the Inagawa river are great and offer some beautiful scenery of the river, mountains on the left and then of the airport.
Mountains on the left (longer route)
Cycling near the Inagawa river
Points to watch
Below is a closer look at some parts of the route to ensure hassle-free navigation.
Ramp just after bridge crossing Yodogawa river
As you cross the Nagarabashi bridge you want to turn left onto route 16 but we recommend crossing at the lights, heading left onto the footpath, then looking for a tight right turn which takes you down a ramp and then back around to end up heading west along the route. You are on the footpath here but this sets you up a bit better for the next little section.
Getting onto the Kanzaki river
There is an intersection just before getting onto the Kanzaki river that can be a bit tricky. You head under a railway bridge and as you come up the hill there is a set of lights where you turn right. Make sure you take the first right which goes over a bridge and not the other right hand turn which would keep you on the south side of the river. You want to cross the bridge then take the first left and head down the ramp to be on the north-side of the river.
The roads in Japan are generally very well maintained but we did notice a pothole on the route recently which could spell trouble if you are unfortunate enough to hit it.
As you ride along the small stream there is a section which goes down and under a bridge and it’s at the bottom on the hill which is a bit dangerous because you might have picked up a bit of speed. You can see the location below:
If you’re in Osaka or the Kansai area and looking to do some cycling we highly recommend taking a trip to Minoh on the bike. It’s easily accessible from the city, offers some great little climbs and has some excellent windy roads through the forest on the mountain. The route is topped off with an amazing temple and coffee spot which makes for the perfect place to have a rest after the first half of the ride.
This is a RBRJ favourite and we hope you all get to experience it while cycling in Japan.