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Osaka's Best Kept Secret for Autumn Foliage: Hoshida Park's Hoshi-no-Buranko Bridge

Osaka's Best Kept Secret for Autumn Foliage: Hoshida Park's Hoshi-no-Buranko Bridge

Date published: 18 September 2019
Last updated: 16 November 2020

Hoshida Park is home to the Hoshi-no-Buranko Bridge, one of Osaka's best secret spots for autumn leaves! It is one of the most popular day-trip tourist destinations from Osaka, and from here, you can see gorgeous views. Hoshida Park is located in a prefectural forest park located in the northern part of the Ikoma Mountains that stretch between the borders of Osaka and Nara.

Hoshi-no-Buranko is one of Japan's largest wooden-floor suspension bridges. It is incredibly popular during the autumn foliage season. Its curious, romantic name (which in English translated to "The Star Swing") is derived from the legend of Tanabata, a story that's been around since olden times.

Here we'll introduce the superb views you can see from Hoshi-no-Buranko, plus places related to the legend of Tanabata.

Table of Contents
  1. Access: How to get to Hoshida Park
  2. First Stop Inside Hoshida Park: Forest Railway-style Footbridge
  3. Heading to Hoshida Park's Hoshi-no-Buranko - the Star Swing!
  4. The Hoshi-no-Buranko: Stroll through a sea of green from high above on the Star Swing
  5. From this observation point you can enjoy a panoramic view from Kyoto Tower to the Tower of the Sun!
  6. Visit Hatamono Shrine, Famous for the Tanabata legend

Access: How to get to Hoshida Park

Access: How to get to Hoshida Park
▲ Hoshida Park's Hoshi-no-Buranko Suspension Bridge, nicknamed Star Swing

Hoshida Park, with its Star Swing, is located in Katano City, in the northeastern part of Osaka Prefecture.

For access from Osaka City, transfer to the Katano Line at Hirakata Station on the Keihan Electric Railway and get off at Kisaichi Station.

It’s about a 30-minute walk from there. From Kisaichi Station, walk along National Route 168, and after a while, you will see a river flowing parallel to the road. This is the Amano River. To go to Hoshida Park, continue along the nature trail that stretches along the Amano River.

▲ The stream on the left is the Amano River. During the Heian period, this area appears to have been a scenic hunting ground and its name appears in Kokin Wakashu, an anthology of Japanese waka style poetry dating from the Heian period, and Ise Monogatari [The Tales of Ise] also from that time period.
▲ Follow the relatively level path that runs along the Amano River. There are benches here and there along the way where you can rest.

We visited during the latter part of May when the foliage was a lush green. Walking through this pleasant greenery you will arrive at the entrance gate to Hoshida Park, one of Osaka's popular tourist attractions. Admission is free.

First Stop Inside Hoshida Park: Forest Railway-style Footbridge

First Stop Inside Hoshida Park: Forest Railway-style Footbridge
▲ Check the information board. On the way to Star Swing, there are the Forest Railway-style Footbridge, Climbing Wall, and Piton Lodge.

Very near the information board, you can see the Forest Railway-style Footbridge.

▲ The pedestrian bridge got its name because it resembles a forest railway as the path goes along the side of the mountain. There is an excellent aerial view from this bridge of the Amano River below that has become a mountain stream.

This wood deck bridge is about 200 meters long and about 10 meters above the ground. The sounds of the babbling brook and birds singing in the woods fill the air. While slowly walking along amid this lovely nature, a gentle breeze would sometimes rustle the leaves of the trees and carry on it the fresh scent of the earth.

▲ In some places there are notices that introduce the names and features of plants. That these also included photos of the plants and leaves was also helpful.

After passing over the forest railway-like pedestrian bridge, the field of view gradually expanded. Just ahead is the climbing wall, which rises to a height of about 16.5 meters!

▲ A full-fledged climbing wall with a front and two sides. It was used as the official competition site of the 1997 Namihaya National Sports Festival.

Groups of 2 to 6 people can use it if accompanied by one adult at least 20 years of age, who has passed the climbing class held by Hoshida Park (for 4th graders and above) and have been certified. There are also regular seminars for beginners, so please check the website (participation fee is 2,500 yen per person, tax included; reservations accepted from one month in advance on a first-come-first-served basis).

▲ Even though secured by a rope, just looking at climbers scaling the high wall is thrilling.

The Piton Lodge faces the Climbing Wall. The building is a combined rest area and information center. Inside there are vending machines for drinks and ice cream as well as tables and chairs for relaxing and a washroom. It can be used free of charge between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

Heading to Hoshida Park's Hoshi-no-Buranko - the Star Swing!

Heading to Hoshida Park's Hoshi-no-Buranko - the Star Swing!
▲ Piton Lodge. It also has information about the plants and animals in Hoshida Park.

After a brief rest here, let’s now head to the Hoshi-no-Buranko - Star Swing! As I walked along the wide, gently sloping gravel path, I saw something in the sky between the trees ahead. It appeared to be part of the suspension bridge.

▲ Hoshi-no-Buranko - Star Swing. I was thrilled to see that it was higher than I had expected!

Walking about 10 minutes from the Piton Lodge I came upon a signboard.

▲ Go along the Bouken no Michi [Road of Adventure] in the mountains to go to the Star Swing

Until now, walking has been easy, but from here, it changes; wending your way through the trees, you need to walk up the stairs carefully. The gigantic boulder beside the path is somewhat overwhelming.

▲ You need to walk up a dozen or so steps and then down several steps repeatedly. You need to watch your step as you make your way upwards.
▲ I heard voices from above, and when I looked up, I saw people walking high up on the suspension bridge

There is only this single path, so no need to worry about becoming lost. I suddenly became anxious when I saw a Beware of Pit Vipers sign and glanced about me. I was surprised when I saw a lizard suddenly dart past my feet, and I continued my way along the Road of Adventure in this extraordinary natural setting.

While taking rests along the way, I walked about 30 minutes on the Road of Adventure, which finally came out onto a wide, gently sloping road. The Star Swing was only about two or three minutes away from here.

The Hoshi-no-Buranko: Stroll through a sea of green from high above on the Star Swing

Something suddenly came into view! It was the Hoshi-no-Buranko - Star Swing suspension bridge.

▲ The people crossing it looked so small.

The Star Swing, at an elevation of 180 meters, is a wooden planked pedestrian suspension bridge about 280 meters long and about 50 meters above the ground. This is one of the largest pedestrian suspension bridges having wooden planking in the country!

It was time to cross it. Naturally, beneath the planking, there was nothing but trees growing far below. I suddenly became scared and very nervously placed one foot ahead of the other.

▲ The planks often had 1-centimeter wide spaces between them.

I started forward very cautiously. The planks seemed to be thick enough to support my weight without bending, and there was a metal handrail, too. The wind did not cause the bridge to sway, so I felt a little relieved!

▲ The floorboards and handrails were solid, so perhaps it was safer than I thought ...
▲ The green mountains extended far off into the distance. It looks just like a green carpet.
▲ As I became accustomed to it, I decided to take a look below. The people looked really small.
▲ The bridge hardly swayed at all so the walk across was quite pleasant. The bridge was also wide enough to allow people to pass one another.

Even if you don't like high places, you might be able to cross over while enjoying the surrounding nature as the bridge is very solidly constructed. This area in Hoshida Park is stunning in the autumn when the leaves are all red and yellow.

▲ The mountains resplendent in autumn leaves is a scene that can only be enjoyed here (Photo courtesy of Osaka Midori Public Corporation)

From this observation point you can enjoy a panoramic view from Kyoto Tower to the Tower of the Sun!

There is a place in Hoshida Park where you can enjoy an even more exhilarating view. To reach it, you need to walk a bit farther after you cross the Star Swing. On the way, you will pass the Yamabiko Plaza, a rest area with restrooms.

▲ After about a 15-minute walk from the Star Swing you will come to an observation point on the top of a hill. From here you can see the Star Swing below.

Beyond the forested mountain is Kyoto City in the right rear background. From there, continuing to the left, you can see Takatsuki City and Hirakata City in Osaka Prefecture. If you look even further to the left, you will see the Tower of the Sun standing at the Expo'70 Commemoration Park in Suita City.

▲ Do you know what that small, white, triangular shape is? That is the Tower of the Sun. The circle that you can just barely see to its left is the large OSAKA WHEEL Ferris wheel in EXPOCITY.
▲ If you wonder what something is there is a convenient guide that explains the sights.

Hoshida Garden is a place set in the broad expanse of nature where you enjoy the clean, forest air in an area that can be easily accessed from Osaka. This place is wildly popular and heavily visited by many people during the spring and autumn, as well as on weekends and major holidays; the parking lot can accommodate 88 normal-sized vehicles. You can also quickly get there using public transportation.

  • Osaka Prefectural Forest Hoshida Park
    大阪府民の森 ほしだ園地
    • Address 5019-1 Hoshida, Katano City, Osaka Prefecture
    • Open: 9:00 a.m. ~ 5:00 p.m. (Star Swing can be used 9:30 a.m. ~ 4:30 p.m.)
      Facility Usage Fee: No charge (There is a fee to use the Climbing Wall)
      Closed: Tuesday (always open in April, May, October, November); Dec. 29 ~ Jan. 4
      Phone: 072-891-0110 (9:30 a.m.~ 4:30 p.m.)

Visit Hatamono Shrine, Famous for the Tanabata legend

The area from Katano City, where the Hoshida Garden is located, to the neighboring Hirakata City, is considered the birthplace of the legend of Tanabata in Japan. Katano City is also called the “Star Town” because it is dotted with spots related to Tanabata.

We took this occasion to visit the Hatamono Shrine, the most famous of all these.

▲ Princess Tanabata of the Star Vega is the festival deity of the Hatamono Shrine

After returning from Hoshida Park to Kisaichi Station, take the train to Kawachimori Station, one stop away. From there walk about five minutes to the JR Kawauchi-Iwafune Station and from there take the Katamachi Line (Gakken Toshi Line) one stop to Tsuda Station and get off there. It is about a 15-minute walk to Hatamono Shrine.

▲ Main shrine of the Hatamono Shrine. Looms are also preserved in the precincts

Trade with the continent began during the 3rd to 7th-century Kofun [Tumulus] Period. It is thought that a group of visitors with sericulture and weaving techniques, as well as those familiar with constellations, came from Chang'an (now Xian) in China and settled in the area of the Hatamono Shrine. For this reason, it is said that Orihime [The Weaver Girl] came to be enshrined here.

Then in the early Heian period Emperor Kanmu held a festival around here to deify the North Star and pray for the well-being of the nation. As a result, the nobility of Kyoto came to visit this place as a hunting ground and held poetry parties related to Tanabata.

▲ Orihime and weaving machines (only available for tours) are also displayed in the precincts. See if you can find them.

Although it is a small shrine, I was amazed by the richness of its history in this area that has been inhabited since the arrival of the first visitors from the continent.

A grand Tanabata Festival is held on July 6th and 7th every year.

▲ The night stalls during the Tanabata festival, bamboo trees decorated with many colorful strips of paper representing wishes, become quite lively. It seems that volunteers cut down about 50 fine bamboos from the mountain (Photo courtesy of Hatamono Shrine)
  • Hatamono Shrine
    • Address 1-1-7 Kuraji, Katano City, Osaka Prefecture
    • Shrine hours: 9:00 a.m. ~ 4:00 p.m.
      Closed: always open
      Phone: 072-891-4418 (Shrine office)

In the adjacent Hirakata City, there is also a Kengyu-Seki [Cowherd Stone], where the spirit of Hikoboshi [Altair] is said to reside. It is said that this area is also called the Village of Tanabata after the Tanabata legend, where Orihime and the cowherd meet once a year across the Amano River.

▲ The Cowherd Stone sits at the highest point in Kannonyama Park in Hirakata City. The megalith is about 1 meter tall and about 2 meters wide (photo courtesy of Hirakata City Public Relations Division)
  • Cowherd Stone
    • Address Inside Kannonyama Park, 4 Korigaoka, Hirakata City, Osaka Prefecture
    • Open to the public
      Phone: 072-841-1475 (Hirakata City Hirakata Events Section)

Make sure to visit Katano City, Osaka, for a superb view of the Star Swing that can be enjoyed by both adults and children, and discover the romantic Tanabata legend.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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