The compact peak is hidden in plain sight right in downtown Osaka.

As Japan’s highest mountain, Mt. Fuji is one of the country’s most popular hiking destinations. As a matter of fact, it’s so popular that sometimes the trek to the top turns into a human traffic jam.

So for her latest mountaineering excursion, our Japanese-language reporter Ikuna set her sights on a summit that’s less prominent in terms of both fame and elevation, and decided to scale Mt. Tempo.

▼ Ikuna (right), chatting with coworker Seiji at SoraNews24 headquarters in Tokyo

You may not have heard of Mt. Tempo, but if you’ve done much travelling in central Japan, there’s a chance you were pretty close to it. The mountain is in Osaka, and we don’t mean Osaka Prefecture, but the city of Osaka.

The start of the walking course that takes you to the top of Mt. Tempo is just a 10-minute stroll from Osaka Minato Station. That just happens to be the closest station to Osaka’s aquarium, one of the city’s most-visited tourist attractions. However, Osaka Minato Station is also just a short walk from the harbor, and anyone who’s been there will tell you there’s no towering mountain range nearby.

That’s because Mt. Tempo is Japan’s second-shortest mountain. It turns out the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan doesn’t enforce any requirements for the term “mountain.” Pretty much as long as it’s some point that’s higher than its immediate surroundings, it can legally be named as a mountain, and Mt. Tempo, which sits inside Tempozan Park, clears that incredibly low hurdle.

Ikuna headed out the station gates and diverged from the flow of tourists on their way to the aquarium, and before long she was at the park and ready to hike a tiny, tiny little bit closer to the blue sky above her. The park was quiet, with only a few people milling about, and she was looking forward to getting back in touch with nature. After a quick survey of the area, she spotted the first steps of the path that leads to the top of the mountain.

Making sure her boots were tied tight, Ikuna took a deep breath and began her ascent. She quickly became confused, though, when the path leveled off after only about a dozen steps.

Was she somehow lost already? Try as she might, though, she couldn’t find any path leading onward or upward. What she did find, though, was this sign…

congratulating her for having climbed all the way to the top of Mt. Tempo, as she was now standing at the summit, with an elevation of 4.54 meters (14.9 feet)!

▼ Her euphoria and adrenalin from reaching the top were so great that she remained full of energy even without using an oxygen tank.

▼ There’s even a marker designating the triangular peak of the mountain.

▼ Commemorative selfie

Having made it to the top, Ikuna was now eligible for a certificate of summiting, which can be obtained from select local merchants, provided you also make a purchase. Fatigue-based hunger hadn’t exactly set in for Ikuna, even by the time she descended back to the foot of the mountain. She couldn’t pass up an opportunity to eat some takoyaki (the octopus dumplings that are Osaka’s most iconic snack food) though, and so she walked over to a takoyaki shop called Yukari.

“One order of takoyaki, please,” Ikuna told the woman working the register, “and a Mt. Tempo summiting certificate too!” She wondered if she’d have to also provide photographic proof that she’d indeed climbed a the way to the top, but nope. The employee simply handed her the certificate as soon as she asked for it. Apparently they figure it’s not an achievement that anyone is going to try to fake, since in the time it would take to mentally justify lying about it, you could just walk to the peak.

▼ Both the certificate and sign at the peak refer to Mt. Tempo as “Japan’s shortest mountain,” but it actually lost that tile in 2014 to Miyagi Prefecture’s Hiyoriyama, which is only three meters tall.

As Ikuna sat munching on her takoyaki, she couldn’t help but think Osaka, which has long been considered Japan’s most comical town, is the perfect place for such a dinky mountain. Sure, it may not be a particularly challenging hike, and it’s possible that a lot of people complete it without even realizing it. Still, many would say that the secret of happiness is taking the time to celebrate life’s little victories, and even if they don’t get much littler than this, it’s still something Ikuna can be proud of, in its own weird way.

Park information
Tempozan Park / 天保山遊園
Address: Osaka-fu, Osaka-shi, Minato-ku, Chikko 3-2

Photos ©SoraNews24
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