Ise Honkaido 8: From Haibara – Yamagasu

From our starting point in Osaka City, we have faithfully followed the Ise Honkaido all the way to Haibara. In this segment of our journey, we covered the distance from Haibara to Yamagasu, roughly 20km. Up until this point, the Ise Honkaido trailed near the Kintetsu tracks. But now the trail will venture into the deep forest, pass by some ancient temples, and even though a small village! 

See here for the other entries of our Ise Honkaido series. 

Ise Honkaido 8: Haibara – Yamagasu

Haibara – Takai

Haibara is 45 minutes away from Osaka. The Kintestu Haibara Station is a pretty big station, so this is where we decided to stock up on supplies, as we knew once we left the station we’d not see a convenience store or supermarket for the next 50km!

After Haibara Station, Ise Honakido heads south, passing by of Sumisaka Shrine. Sumisaka Shrine is an ancient shrine built by Emperor Sujin to eradicate a plague by ensuring the god of Sumisaka. Though this is not a very big shrine, it is actually so ancient that the Kojiki even mentions it. 

Sumisaki Shrine along the Ise Honkaido
Sumisaka Shrine

THe Ise Honkaido goes into the mountainside along National Route 389. This is a surprisingly busy road! If you find yourself here, be careful of the cars! Around a little temple called Fudo-do, the trail becomes goes into the mountains (it was really hard to find the trail around here!)

Fresh spring water on your right!! This water is safe to drink as is, and was very refreshing!
Nara's oldest road marker on the Ise Honkaido
The oldest road marker in Nara. Circa 1664.
Mii Shrine on the Ise Honkaido
Mii Shrine. Wild deer roam the shrine grounds. Actual wild deer, not like the ones near Todai-ji who are semi-tame.
Hard to believe this mountain trail in fact follows along Route 369.


Takai – Morokino

Just an hour and a half from Haibara Station is Takai. From here, the Ise Honkaido pulls away from National Route 369 and goes through mountains until reaching Yamagasu. Very few people walk in the mountains around here, which frankly, makes the hike even better. 

The small town of Takai on the Ise Honkaido
Former building of the Takai post office. Built around 100 years ago.
Go right here
Senbonsugi: These big cedar trees are 500-600 years old!

Shortly after marveling at the ancient Senbonsugi, the trail pulls us back into the mountains, where we found the ruins of the Morikino Toll Booth.  Surprising as it may seem, but yes, there were toll roads even in ancient Japan! 

It is beautiful here
Mountain trail now!
Ruins of the ancient Morokino toll booth on the Ise Honkaido
Morokino Toll Booth ruins

After stopping at the toll booth, we arrived at Morokino Village. This is one of the delights about hiking ancient trails like the Ise Honkaido– sometimes you get to stumble across these tiny little villages so peacefully tucked away from the rest of the country.  

Morokino Village on the Ise Honkaido
Morokino Village
Such a nice view!


Ishiwari Pass – Yamagasu Pass

Now the Ise Honkaido led us away from Morokino Village and through the Ishiwari Pass. The pass is 695m high and connects Mt. Saburo-dake and Mt. Takashiro (each is roughly 1,000m high).  

Taking the Ishiwari Pass on the Ise Honkaido
Going into the mountains again!
It is a bit hard to follow the trail here
Ishiwari Pass.
Going down now

After going through the Ishiwari Pass, we reached the small community of Kamitaguchi. It is really hard to believe that people still live here so deep in the mountains. 

There is a cafe in this old house…
Senmei-ji Temple on the Ise Honkaido
Senmei-ji Temple


From Kamitaguchi we went to the Yamagasu Pass. A long time ago, people used the Yamagasu Pass to transport coal from the mines in Kuroishi to Osaka. After this pass, we will reach Yamagasu, our stopping point for today!  

view of Mt. Sumizuka on the Ise Honkaido
Mt. Sumizuka
Mossy forest on the Ise Honkaido
Beautiful moss forest.
Yamagasu Pass on the Ise Honkaido
Yamagasu Pass. I think there was once a teahouse here for people on the Ise Pilgrimage.

As we got to the end of the pass, We found National Route 369 again. Route 369 is quite popular with bikers, so there was a lot more traffic.



Yamagasu is part of Nara’s Soni Village. The nearest station is an hour away by bus, so even though this was our stopping point, it didn’t really feel like we’d reach the end of our travels for the day, though being able to finally sit down was a relief. It is really the middle of nowhere here but was once this was a major stop on the Ise Honkaido. Even today, Yamagasu is much bigger when compared to the other surrounding communities. 

Yamagasu Village on the Ise Honkaido
Welcome to Yamagasu!
Fork in the road for the Medaka Kaido.
Yamato-style houses
More Yamato-style house in Yamagasu

At last, we reached the Yamagasu-higashi bus stop. From here, there is service to Nabari or Haibara Station. As you might expect, though service is available, it isn’t frequent. In any case, both stations are on the Kintetsu line, but if you take the bus for  Nabari you will get a front-row seat of the gorgeous Soni Highlands. 

Yamagasu Higashi-guchi bus stop!! Our final destination today.

Next time we will take another walk deep into the mountains Ise Okitsu!


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