and wander journal #28


and wander’s first store to open in the Kansai area launched in Grand Front Osaka, in Spring 2021. Store manager Yasue Kotera is a seasoned hiker and outdoor enthusiast, with 20 years of experience. She recommends Kansai’s low mountains (teizan) for lighthearted and easy hiking trips. In this interview, she shares her knowledge of such entry level hikes, perfect for beginners who are looking for a relaxed and easy way to start enjoying the mountains of Kansai.





A light walk up the three best “teizan” of Kansai

“I started getting into mountain activities about 20 years ago. At the time I was working in skiing and snowboarding, so I was all about snow covered mountains. If the mountain didn’t have any snow on it, I didn’t have a clue! At the time the very idea of climbing a mountain without a ski lift was alien to me! (laughs) But then when I actually gave hiking a go, it felt so good, and before I knew it, I just wanted to keep on climbing mountains.”

Apart from telling me about how she got into hiking, Ms. Kotera also told me that there are many easily accessible mountains around Osaka where she lives, that are great for enjoying a gentle hike. These mountains are also one of the reasons why she got into hiking because their accessibility means it’s possible to fit in a light hike before going to work, or during other slots of free time during the day. Ms. Kotera mentioned the following mountains during our interview.

Mount Kongo (Osaka – Nara / elevation 1125m) is the closest to Osaka. It’s a very familiar mountain to me; my husband and I sometimes climb it together in the morning. Mount Rokko (Hyogo – elevation 931m) has a wide range of different approaches. You could try the challenging rocky slope, or take a leisurely walk along the river. You could also climb right up to the top and continue on the other side to Arima-Onsen and take a dip in the hot springs. I think it’s a mountain that everyone can enjoy in their own way. If you want to test your mountaineering level, you could also join the “Mount Rokko cross mountain trail run competition” held every year in November. Mount Katsuragi (Osaka – Nara / elevation 959m), which is just next to Mount Kongo, can be enjoyed all year round, with beautiful Rhododendrons in May and Miscanthus and tinted leaves in the Autumn.”



Ms. Kotera also has experience as a flower designer, and enjoys observing the mountain flowers she discovers on her hikes. When she hikes on a weekly basis, she starts to notice the subtle seasonal changes in the mountain scenery. She looks forward to the transition from young new growth in the spring, to the deep lush greenery of the summer. When she comes across a new flower, she takes a picture of it so that she can look up its name later. In Autumn she collects alnus firma and other tree nuts and weaves a wreath from creeper plants as she descends the mountain side. Experiencing nature through our five senses is deeply relaxing. Ms. Kotera is always full of curiosity, endlessly looking for ways to enjoy hiking, and is dedicated to making her leisure time as fun and rewarding as possible.

“I take my hammock, some of my favorite coffee beans, a hand drip coffee set and a compact toasted sandwich-maker with me. Enjoying a coffee and a toasted ham and cheese sandwich while sitting on a hammock - you can’t beat that. Last year I really got into making nans. I’d make the dough at home and put it in a Tupperware, take it with me on the hike and the dough would rise perfectly as I walked. Then all I needed to do was cook the dough on my camping stove. Freshly cooked nan along with some freeze-dried curry, and you’ve got yourself a feast.”





My experiences of hiking come alive when I’m talking to customers

I want to be the doorway through which our customers can find enjoyment in mountain activities, Ms. Kotera tells me. The experiences and realizations I gained from my mountaineering, as well as the ideas I have about how to enjoy hiking, these all feed into my communication with our customers.

“I want the store to be a place where I can talk about my experiences in-person. You know, the actual sensation of how the material feels and how it stretches, when you wear it and use it. My top recommendation for this season is the breathable Vent Series, made with mesh material. With a windbreaker I find that I often get too hot and need to take it off and put it on again multiple times during a hike, but with this you only need the one layer, it’s so versatile. You don’t have to worry about feeling cold when taking a break after you’ve been sweating, and the material always feels so dry and comfortable.”

Now she spends her time organizing study sessions about different fabrics and materials, along with the store staff, while dreaming of future group hiking events, as she looks forward to a time when we can all enjoy a freshly brewed mountain-top cup of coffee together. Ms. Kotera and the staff at the Grand Front Osaka and wander store will continue to share exciting information about all the fun to be had exploring Kansai’s mountains.


大阪府大阪市北区大深町4-20 南館1F
South Building 1F 4-20 Ofukacho Kita-ku Osaka

11:00 - 21:00
臨時営業時間: 11:00 - 20:00

text euphoria FACTORY
photography Yoshiko Tanaka, Naohiro Ueda
translation Yuko Caroline Omura