Sakura Spot Between Osaka and Kyoto
Settsukyo Park is a forest area hugging part of the Akuta-gawa River, located in Takatsuki City, in the east-northern suburb of Osaka and halfway to Kyoto. This large green space is a favorite getaway for the locals all year round and travelers especially enjoy it in spring to celebrate hanami under the blooming cherry trees.
Unlike its neighbor Kyoto featuring a very beautiful wealth of temples and outdoor sites in spring, Osaka does not have much sakura 🌸 spots in its center. Most of its visitors usually gather on the lawns of Nishinomaru Park (around the Castle 🏯) and Kema Sakuranomiya Park (along the Okawa River). For larger natural spaces, with a part dedicated to ohanami, that is to say growing only Japanese cherry trees, it is necessary to move away in the city’s periphery.
Beautiful colors in spring and in autumn
Located almost halfway between Osaka and Kyoto, Settsukyo forestry park is a haven of vegetation of about forty hectares, upstream the Akuta River. It is open all year round, with several highlights according to the season:
- In spring, about 1,300 somei yoshino sakura bloom, including 230 trees gathered on a dedicated place named Sakura Hiroba (Sakura Square) at the southern entrance of the park. It is an ideal address in early April and after the blooming peak in Osaka to organize a family or friends picnic under the pale pink cherry trees blossoms;
- In summer, the gorges of the Akuta River provide visitors with the water’s coolness (however swimming is forbidden) and the amazing night dance of the fireflies at nightfall in June;
- In autumn, the forest valley Momiji 🍁-dani dons its most beautiful warm colors. It is the best season to practice the shinrin-yoku forest bathing.
A large forest area at the doorstep of Osaka and Kyoto
Beside the seasonal events, leisure and activities in Settsukyo natural park are diverse and suitable for the whole family, with:
- An outdoor playground for young children;
- Freshwater fishing for fishing amateurs;
- Several campsites in the forest in the heart of the park; and,
- Five hiking trails including one that goes 3 kilometers upstream the gorges.
There are also several viewpoints in the park, such as:
- Shirataki Waterfall (白滝), which is 15 meters high;
- The distinctive shapes of Gyosha-iwa and Meoto-iwa rocks; and,
- The wooden observation platform Chufuku (中腹展望台) that offers an elevated panorama on the area.
Settsukyo Park is characterized by the variety of natural landscapes gathered in the same area, from vast lawns at the entrance, to the dense forest when walking in the heart of the Park, and an incised valley formed by the stream and bordered by large rocks. Settsu-kyo’s areas is surrounded by the Japanese countryside, which adds to the bucolic charm of the destination and make visitors forget they still are in Japan’s large city’s suburb. The only downfall are the many electric poles and wires hanging above the park.
Settsukyo Park is an easy one-day trip from Osaka or Kyoto by public transportation, and convenient enough to allow taking the time to walk leisurely its paths. A few restaurants are available near the main entrance in the south. Those who would like to stay overnight can try the Sansuikan (山水館) ryokan traditional inn, with its outdoor onsen ♨️ viewing the Akuta River.