Taiken Japan

Autumn Leaves 2016

Warm Autumn Memories in Minoo, Osaka

Warm Autumn Memories in Minoo, Osaka

Randy Poehlman

Japan, as a nation is incredibly interested in its four seasons. Everything from fashion, art, poetry and creative writing to cuisine and leisure is built around these seasonal changes. The rich reds, yellows and burnt oranges of Autumn are most spectacularly displayed in a small sub-urban environment that rests up against a beautiful forest and a small mountain range with rivers and streams that wind down the slopes in Minoo, Osaka.


Photo: Stefan Lins on Flickr

The three unique highlights of Minoo are the often photographed Waterfall, that splashes its river waters over a 25 meter drop and is located about 3km from Minoo station along a paved road/trail that winds into the forest on a gentle incline. The waterfall and bridge with lush red trimmings make a wonderful backdrop for both amateur and professional photographers. The Autumn colors add an extra dimension to said photographs and because of this, the fall season is particularly busy in Minoo.


Photo: Stefan Lins on Flickr

The second wonderful feature of Minoo, comes in deep-fried format. A rich, thick batter, comprised of flour, water and even sesame seeds makes your visit to Minoo extra special. What are they frying in that batter? The shape of the distinct treat will leave little doubt in your mind. They are offering deep fried maple leaves. This local delicacy is on offer at countless small family owned shops that line the street/path from Minoo (Hankyu) station to the waterfall. The shops have a stove, a wok and a large stainless steel protection shield, guarding the customers from the hot oil on prominent display in front of their cafe or souvenir shop. During the Autumn season, you can also find other seasonal favourites like baked Sweet Potato and Roasted Chestnuts. While enjoying the Autumn foods, I would encourage you to try the local Yuzu-Cider, a delicious treat with a slight citrus flavor.


Photo: Alyson Hurt on Flickr

The third, notable feature of Minoo is the local Macaque Monkey population and they are quite fascinating creatures and border between wild and semi-tamed, as they are no strangers to human interaction. When you encounter the Monkeys, standard local knowledge is to avoid eye-contact with any of the monkeys, as this is interpreted as a fighting gesture. The monkeys are routinely observed drinking from drink cans and eating and drinking from other discarded items, left by humans.


The monkeys however rarely venture down to the waterfall and the road/trail that winds up to the waterfall from the station. They do however, visit with frequency, the parking lot, which is about 500 meters above the waterfall on the forest road. They mainly stay in the parts of the Meji-No-Mori Quasi National Park that are at a higher elevation than the waterfall, itself. The Monkeys travel in a troop, which has dozens of Monkeys and if you see a member of the troop, the others are going to be quite close by. You should not feed these Monkeys, you will likely be attacked. If you are interested in feeding Monkeys, the Monkey Park in Arashiyama, Kyoto will provide you with that experience.


Photo: Stefan Lins on Flickr

There are a vast network of hiking trails winding through the hills of Minoo, and the maps along the way are labeled in both English and Japanese. The trails can be easily accessed from the Minoo Visitor's Center, which is a small museum located between the waterfall parking lot and Katsuoji Temple. The visitor's center offers maps and is a great source of information for the local park.



After an Autumn hike, I encourage you to indulge in a "foot onsen." The two most popular options are in front of the Minoo Hotel or at Minoo (Hankyu) Station to relax your tired feet.