The Omine Okugake-michi, [大峯奥駈道] a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a trail which runs through the Kii mountain range in Nara and leads to Kumano Hongu-Taisha Shrine in Wakayama. In the late 7th century, En-no-gyoja forged this trail to be used as a place for the ascetic practices Shugen-do, a unique Japanese religion combining Mountain Worship, Shamanism, Shintoism, Taoism and Buddhism.
The trail is approximately 90 kilometers long and the surrounding mountains are almost 2,000 meters high, making it a challenging training ground.
Women are forbidden to enter the area of Ominesan-ji Temple and Omine mountains due to an old religious tradition of 女人結界 (Nyonin-kekkai: prohibition against women entering a sacred area).
The ban is, however, voluntary and has been breached multiple times with no consequence besides a request from Ominesan-ji Temple for those who committed the breach to be more respectful of the temple’s religious practices in the future.
Mt. Omine is the last place in Japan to have such a ban in place, but there is a women's only mountain, Mt. Inamura, where men are forbidden from entering or practicing Shugendo there.
So with this ban on women entering the area, is there still a way for females to enjoy the trail?
Well, yes there is!
We can suggest 2 alternative routes.
- Alternative Route 1
1. Leave the Omine Okugake-michi when you get to Gobanseki, and head down to the Dorogawa onsen area. This is essential to avoid entering Mt Omine.
2. Next day start walking from the Dorogawa onsen area via Tenkawa Kawai Trail and head to Misen where you will find a hut and the junction to the Omine Okugake-michi.
A local bus is available between Dorogawa onsen bus stop and Tenkawa Kawai Bus Stop (14min, 380 JPY)
This route is very convenient but makes you skip a long part of the trail.
- Alternative Route 2
1. Leave the Omine Okugake-michi when you get to Gobanseki, and head down to the Dorogawa onsen area. This is essential to avoid entering Mt. Omine.
2. Next day make a detour using public transportation and start walking from Wasamataguchi Bus Stop via Difugendake to Misen where you will find a hut. (Same as alternative 1)
Timetable for public transportations :
Departs Dorogawa Onsen Bus Stop at 07:25 - Arrive at Shimoichiguchi station at 08:35 (70min, 1,300 JPY)
Switch to Kintetsu railway train departing Shimoichiguchi Station at 08:36
- Arrive at Yamatokamiichi station at 08:50 (14min, 230 JPY)
Finally, take a bus bound for Odaigahara and get off at Wasamataguchi Bus Stop.
Start walking from Wasamataguchi trail and head to Misen where you will find a hut.
(Same hut as above)
This route is a bit complicated but allows you to enjoy a longer portion of the trail excluding the Mt. Omine area.
If you have any questions, please get in touch and will do our best to help you.
Author: NARA Visitor Center & Inn