Minō Park, North of Osaka, is home to one of Japan’s most spectacular waterfalls – the 33-meter (99′) Minō Falls:
The falls are the park’s most famous attraction, though it’s also known as one of the best places in the Kansai Region for viewing colorful autumn foliage (momijigari). Even the manhole covers in the park demonstrate the area’s pride in its autumn leaves:
Visitors reach the falls by hiking a paved 4km trail from the park entrance. The path terminates at the falls, and takes about 45-60 minutes to walk, depending on walking speed and physical fitness. (The walk is paved the entire way, and mostly flat, so it’s suitable for walkers of all ages.)
The paved path parallels the Minogawa (Mino River) through a beautiful forest of massive trees.
A line of small restaurants near the falls provide visitors a place to stop for ice cream, snacks, or even a meal–the menu offerings include ramen, udon, and sandwiches.
The falls themselves are spectacular, and well worth the walk. (Though truthfully, the walk itself is worth a visit to Mino Park – it’s peaceful and beautiful in and of itself.)
The viewing platform in front of the falls has over a dozen benches where visitors can rest and relax while watching the waterfall or enjoying a snack from the nearby restaurants. Although the platform can get crowded at certain times of day, if you visit early in the morning, seats are easy to find.
A gentle spray comes off the falls, creating rainbows like the one in the photograph above.
You can tell you’ve almost reached the waterfall when you see the restaurants:
People sometimes bring their dogs to walk in the park – and they seem to enjoy the spray from the falls as much as people do:
Minō Park doesn’t show up in many guidebooks or tourist websites. During my visit, most of the visitors to the park were Japanese. This might be due to an actual-or-perceived belief that foreigners care more about historical sites involving castles, temples, or other activities than sites involving scenic beauty, but if you like a nice walk in the woods (especially during foliage season) I definitely recommend Minō Park.