Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Mt. Ōjigatake and the Weird Smiley Rock at the Summit

Mt. Ōjigatake (王子が岳) is a mountain with various oddly shaped rocks on the border between the two cities – Tamano (玉野) and Kurashiki (倉敷) in Okayama prefecture. The view of the Seto Inland Sea along the hiking trail and from the summit is what makes the mountain a popular spot among the locals. This is especially the case when a thousand or so cherry blossoms color one part of the mountain with its light pink petals from mid-March to early April (*´ω`).

It is also one of the best paragliding sites in Japan. When the weather is good, paragliders will take off towards the magnificent Seto Inland Sea!

The Three Trailheads at Mt. Ōjigatake

There are three hiking trails that lead to the summit of Mt. Ōjigatake at an altitude of 234 meters. Please refer to the map HERE that has each of the tracks labeled.

As the map of the mountain is only available in Japanese, please refer to the below translation to read the map.

  • 登山口: Trailhead
  • 下山口: The trailhead to hike down the mountain – look for the signboard that says “行者道登山口” as an indicator
  • 王子が岳桜園地: Mt. Ōjigatake Cherry Blossom Park

If you are hiking Mt. Ōjigatake during the cherry blossom season, go with trailhead number 3 to reach Cherry Blossom Park with a 35-minute hike.

During other times of the year, there are really no big differences between hiking courses 1 and 3 as it will take around 50 minutes to reach the summit for either of them. If you are getting to the trailhead by bus, then trailhead number 3 is the closest to the bus stop.

Tip: The track will split not too far away from trailhead number 1. Most people will keep climbing up the stairs, but we recommend taking a detour and choosing the path at the left and staying on the road to head to the end of the road for a perfect picnic spot with a view of the Seto Inland Sea. If you are aiming for the Cherry Blossom Park, follow the trail you came from, turn left when the road splits, and you will be there in no time.

One thing to note about the 1st trail is that a metal gate blocks the entrance. The gate is to block the wild boars in the mountain, so make sure to close the gate once you pass.

Course 2, however, is the hardest of the three due to its steep slope. Although you will be at the summit in 40 minutes, it will probably be easier if you come back down along this trail. And if you are wondering why you would want to choose a more challenging course even though it takes less effort to go downhill – it is because course 2 offers the best scenery and views of the surrounding rocks!

The highlight of this trail is the wall painting on the rock. It is unknown who painted it and when it was completed, but it is just amazing to see how someone managed to paint a Buddha there; consider how dangerous it is!

Mt. Ōjigatake Smiley Rock (ニコニコ岩)

The Smiley Rock, or Nikoniko Rock in Japanese, is the landmark of Mt. Ōjigatake.

Nikoniko Rock Mt. Ojigatake Tamano Okayama Japan
© Okayama Prefecture Tourism Federation

When you look up from the ridgeline, it smiles back at you.

Whether you think the smile is creepy or cute, it is definitely a rock that you would want to take a photo with (´▽`*).

The promenade ahead of the Smiley Rock is among the best spots to observe the Seto Inland Sea. The sunset from here is the reason why many people choose to hike the mountain in the late afternoon.

Facilities at Mt. Ōjigatake

  • There are public toilets around trailhead number 1, trailhead number 3, and at the rest house around the summit
  • There is a cafe at the Hill Top Center if you are hungry
  • There are car parks at trailhead number 1, trailhead number 3 as well as around the summit

Meeting the Wild Animals at Mt. Ōjigatake

  • There are a lot of stray cats around the resthouse
  • If you are lucky, you might run into a wild boar around rest house as well
    • They are quite used to the human being around, so they will mostly be minding their own business and are unlikely to attack you

Paragliding at Mt. Ōjigatake (王子が岳パラグライダー)

Not too far away from Smiley Rock is one of the best paragliding sites in Japan. When the weather is good, paragliders will take off towards the magnificent Seto Inland Sea!

If you would like to be one of them, you can reserve with the Okayama Prefecture PG Flight Association (岡山県PGフライト協会) HERE. The webform link is in Japanese but can be translated by switching the language to English with Google Chrome. You should find the Google Translate icon at the right of the address bar. If you still need assistance filling it in, you can contact us HERE, and we will get back to you.

Paragliding Mt. Ojigatake Tamano Okayama Japan
© Okayama Prefecture Tourism Federation

And don’t worry about not having any prior experience, as you will be flying off with an experienced paraglider!

They can also take you on a paraglide on weekends and public holidays without reservation if the day isn’t fully booked!

The representative has confirmed that even if you can’t speak Japanese, it shouldn’t be a problem for you to participate in this activity.

As you land, a car will be arranged to fetch you back to the paragliding site, where you can make your payment of 8,000 yen in cash.

Tip: Please bring a micro SD card (class 10 with more than 2GB of memory) for aerial photography. They have special cameras for you to rent out for free!

If you read Japanese, HERE is their website.

Bouldering at Mt. Ōjigatake

Around the summit of the mountain, there are three natural spots where you can demonstrate your bouldering skills to whoever you are trying to impress. Please note that you are at your own risk no matter which spots you climb.

HERE is a Japanese pamphlet that maps out the locations for anyone who is interested.

If you are only planning to enjoy some hiking and the magnificent view from the hiking track and the summit, 2 to 3 hours should be enough at Mt. Ōjigatake.

How to Get to Mt. Ōjigatake

There are two ways that you can get to Ōjigatake Trailhead, from JR Kojima Station or JR Uno Station.

  • From JR Kojima Station (児島駅)’s bus stop No. 4, take the Mt. Ōjigatake Line (王子ヶ岳線) operating by Shimoden Bus (下電バス) and get off at Ōjigatake Tozanguchi (王子ヶ岳登山口)
  • The timetable for the service can be found HERE. As the timetable is in Japanese, please read it by referencing back to the Japanese characters
    • The timetable on the first page is for weekdays
    • The timetable on the second page is for weekends and public holidays
  • It will be a 25-minute bus ride and will cost 260 yen
  • If you are taking a bus from JR Uno Station (宇野駅), then head to bus stop No. 3 and take the Mt. Ōjigatake Line (王子ヶ岳線) operated by Ryobi Bus (両備バス) and get off at Ōjigatake Tozanguchi (王子ヶ岳登山口)
  • You can also get off at Shibukawa Sanchōme (渋川三丁目), which is closer to trailhead number one
  • For the timetable, please refer to the left table on the PDF HERE. As the timetable is in Japanese, please read it by referencing back to the Japanese characters.
    • The 1st part of the timetable is for weekdays and the 2nd part of the timetable is for weekends
  • It will be a 25-minute bus ride and will cost 300 yen.

Explore Other Interesting Places Close to Mt. Ōjigatake

Mt. Ōjigatake isn’t the only attraction in Tamano city (玉野市).

Find out what else you can do and where else to go when you come to this part of Okayama Prefecture with our Tamano City article (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Miyama-Park-Autumn-Foliage-Tamano-Okayama-Japan
Find out more about the scenic spot in the photo by clicking it!

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