The Oni Trail: Legends, Demons, Power Spots
The 100-kilometer Oni Trail follows ancient lore and oni (demon/ogre) legends across a variety of terrain with origins just north of Kyoto City, and stretching across northern Kyoto prefecture all the way to the Sea of Japan. It traverses ancient pilgrimage routes, mountain paths, forest trails, remote mountain villages, seaside villages, castle towns, and a UNESCO Global Geopark. Park hiking, part trekking, part walking; explore slowly on foot, get to know Japan, and help the planet at the same time.
The Southern Route: A Human Powered Journey
This southern route covers a lot of The Oni Trail’s highlights across three days. It starts in the mountains of Kyoto accessed from Fukuchiyama and ends on the Sea of Japan, near Amanohashidate. It follows in the footsteps of famous samurai who made this journey towards the sea hundreds of years ago. Although the accommodation is a significant upgrade, with two delightful mountain retreats included. The southern route traverses small villages, 1300 year old pilgrimage routes, and ancient samurai/trade routes with some of the stonework remaining from their era. Japanese cultural adventure travel at its best.
Day 1 FUKUCHIYAMA: Mountain Lodge Stay
Taking the train to Oeyamaguchinaiku Station brings the visitor right to the doorstep of Moto Ise Naiku Shrine, a rare shrine with famous ‘black torii gates’ that shares a name with the Ise Grand Shrine in Mie and predates it by 54 years. This is an area of immense spiritual aura, and it’s easy to see the connection back to pre-Shinto religion in Japan. The area has a powerspot that rests in front of a sacred mountain (forbidden to enter), as well as a shrine built precariously on a canyon boulder (that you must descend into to see).
The day ends at the mountain lodge in the foothills of the Oeyama Mountain range. Enjoy locally sourced food and large soaking baths. The lodge is also adjacent to the Japan Oni Cultural Museum, where you can learn about why this area is home to some of Japan’s most notorious oni legends.
Day 2 FUKUCHIYAMA: Mountain Ryokan Stay
For those willing to wake early, a taxi can be arranged up the mountain road from the lodge to view the sea of clouds phenomenon as the sun rises (in fall). From here, hikers take to the mountains, crossing three peaks and finishing at Kaya Yama no Ie, the mountain ryokan situated halfway up the range. This ryokan has great soaking tubs and excellent cuisine, as well as a great selection of drinks including Japanese craft beer on tap
Day 3 FUKUCHIYAMA & MIYAZU: Journey to the sea
Not until this third day will you catch a glimpse of the Japanese Sea in the distance below. The trail descends on ancient paths and takes hikers eventually through a small town to a tiny train station, only a short ride away from Amanohashidate, one of Japan’s Three Scenic Views (advanced hikers may want to continue on foot but the train option is recommended for visitors who want to spend some of the day at Amanohashidate before either adding on an extra night or training back to Kyoto City/beyond.