About 80% of Tokushima Prefecture is mountainous, so we want hikers in Japan and around the world to know and experience the mountains of eastern Tokushima, which are popular with local hikers and trail runners. For that purpose, we started the "HIKE! Tokushima" project in 2021, and this time we will introduce Mt. Kōtsu.

Mt. Kōtsu

Located in Yamakawa district, Yoshinogawa City, this mountain is 1,133 meters high and is called "Okootsan" by the people of Tokushima Prefecture. Another nickname for Mt. Kōtsu is "Awa Fuji" because of its broad and graceful shape. Kōtsuji temple is located at the summit, and the mountain has long been considered a place of ascetic practice. The mountain trail is steep with few flat sections and is covered with vegetation that does not allow much light to penetrate. The views from a former ascetic site called "Nozoki Iwa" (looking rock) halfway up the mountain and from the summit area are spectacular.

The trail is steep and rugged with few level sections.

You can enjoy a stunning view of the mountain range from Nozoki Iwa.

Halfway up the mountain is Nakanogo

You can see several stone monuments along the way.

The magnificent gate of Kōtsuji temple

You can reach the summit and the inner sanctuary from behind Kōtsuji temple.

The view from the summit

The way to the inner sanctuary

You can enjoy seeing the autumn colors in November.

The impressive Kōtsuji temple

The impressive Kōtsuji temple

Kōtsuji is located at the summit of Mt. Kōtsu, and it belongs to the Daikakuji school of Shingon Buddhism founded by En no Ozunu (634-701), a mystic and founder of Shugendō during the reign of Emperor Tenchi (668-671). Shugendō is a unique Japanese religion that is a combination of ancient nature worship, foreign Buddhism, Taoism, and Inyōdō (yin-yang). The journey up Mt. Kōtsu shows how hard it is. In the past, Mt. Yoshino in Eastern Japan and Mt. Kōtsu in Western Japan were famous as places for Shugendō.

Every year on the 18th of August, a large goma (fire) ceremony called "Jūhachi yama" (18 mountains) is held here. Although the rule allowing women to climb the mountain has been abolished, women were not allowed to participate in this ceremony until 2017, which is part of a year-round event to worship En no Ozunnu. On this day, shugenja (practitioners of Shugendō) and residents pray for the safety of their families and the fulfilment of their wishes while chanting sutras and burning wooden sticks on the fire.

Don't miss the nearby spots!

There are many attractive spots in the surrounding area, so please enjoy visiting them before or after experiencing the trail.

Spot No. 1 - Funakubo Tsutsuji Park - Ontsutsuji (azalea)

Spot No. 1 - Funakubo Tsutsuji Park - Ontsutsuji (azalea) Photo provided by Yoshinogawa City
Photo provided by Yoshinogawa City

Three kilometers southeast of Kōtsuji is a natural cluster of azaleas estimated to be 300 years old. In 1985 they were declared a national natural monument, but because the azalea are located on a plateau at 1,050m, the seasons are out of sync with those at lower altitudes, so spring arrives when the cherry blossoms have fallen on the plains. In spring, the Tosano-tsuba azalea and Kobano-tsuba azalea are in full bloom, and from mid to late May, the fiery brick-red flowers of the giant on-tsutsuji plants are in full bloom.

Okunoi, Yamakawa-cho, Yoshinogawa City
JR Tokushima Line "Yamakawa Station"→60 min. by car
From National Road No. 192 "Yudate" to Prefectural Road No. 248 Okunoi Awa Yamakawa stop south→15 km (60 min.)

Spot No. 2 - Boroboro Falls

Spot No. 2 - Boroboro Falls Photo provided by Yoshinogawa City
Photo provided by Yoshinogawa City

This is a mysterious waterfall with a 30-meter drop and a gentle stream of water. It was named after a man who practiced asceticism here to such an extent that he lost all sense of time and the clothes he was wearing fell apart (in Japanese, boroboro).

Kotake, Misato, Yoshinogawa City
JR Tokushima Line "Awa Yamakawa Station"→40 min by car
National Road 192 "Yamakawa"→National Road 193, Prefectural Road 250 Mitsugi Miyakura Line westward, 40 minutes by car.

Spot No. 3 - Fuigo Onsen (hot spring).

Spot No. 3 - Fuigo Onsen (hot spring).

On your way home, we recommend stopping at this onsen, which is fed by mineral water that naturally bubbles up from the remains of a former mine upstream. From the large windows here you can enjoy the scenic view of the valley in all four seasons, and in addition to the large bathtub, there is a bath with a stream of water that massages your shoulders, and a sauna to help you recover from your fatigue.

31-1 Hisamune, Yamakawa-cho, Yoshinogawa City
JR Tokushima Line "Awa Yamakawa Station"→5 min. by car, 30 min. on foot
Route 192 Yudate→3 km (5 min.)
From Wakimachi IC, about 20 minutes by car

【Bathing charge】
Adult 600 yen
Children (up to junior high school students) 300 yen

【Business hours】
7:00-8:30, 10:00-22:00

Mt. Kōtsu

Address: Kiwamayama, Yamakawa-cho, Yoshinogawa City
JR Tokushima Line "Yamakawa Station"→ 90 minutes by car (3 hours on foot)
National Route 192 "Yutate"→18 km (90 min.)