Climbing on Ominesan, Nara, Japan: “No Girls Allowed”
Omine is notable in that it is the last remaining mountain in Japan that’s men only. In the past, Shinto rules barred women from all mountains, though it’s worth recognizing that Ominesan houses a Buddhist temple, not a Shinto shrine. Signs at the entrance boldly emphasize in both Japanese and English that the mountain is strictly “No Girls Allowed.” That didn’t stop a gaijin lady to deface one of the signs and remove the “No” from “No Women Allowed.” In fact, the sign is new. We found the previous sign had been ripped down and thrown into the brush.
One of our team told us that he took his wife and daughter up the back side of the mountain once. They got so rained on that they had to leave.
In Japan, nearly 70% of hikers are older women. It was pretty odd to see only men on the mountain, but, despite the political problems, it was kind of a good and relaxed time with the old guys along the path. Buddhist groups make the pilgrimage to the top of the mountain yearly, where they say prayers along the way and enjoy the scenery with friends.
It’s not an easy hike (which could explain why women aren’t allowed). We suffered a twisted ankle and several cuts along the way. One of our group is still hobbling around.