Curator Eisho Okajima explains how five World Heritage sites can be seen from three observation decks at Mount Myojinyama. (Yuya Tanaka)

OJI, Nara Prefecture--What Mount Myojinyama here lacks in height, it more than makes up for in a view that is hard to top.

The 273.6-meter-high mountain, straddling the border of Osaka and Nara prefectures, offers the chance to see five UNESCO World Heritage sites in one stop.

There are three observation decks at the mountaintop. The one on the west side provides a view of high-rise buildings in the Osaka plain, with low mountains seen scattered between Osaka Bay and urban areas.

These are a cluster of “kofun” burial mounds in the Mozu and Furuichi areas of Osaka Prefecture dating to the late fourth and fifth centuries.

“Don’t you think the distance between the mounds and the sea is closer than you might expect? It clearly shows they were built on the premise that they could be seen from vessels passing nearby,” said Eisho Okajima, 45, curator of cultural properties at the town office, in late November.

In celebration of the ancient mounds winning World Heritage status in July this year, the town office created a sightseeing pamphlet boasting “the view of five World Heritage sites.”

From another observation deck on the northeastern side, Horyuji temple’s five-story pagoda can be seen at the base of Mount Myojinyama. It was registered as Japan’s first World Heritage site.

Also can be seen beyond Horyuji are Todaiji temple and Kasuga Taisha shrine, two of the historic monuments of ancient Nara, which are collectively recognized as World Heritage sites.

There are two more World Heritage sites that may be glimpsed from here.

“That is Mount Hieizan, on which Enryakuji temple stands,” Okajima said, pointing to a mountain barely seen far away in the distance. Indeed, Enryakuji is one of the World Heritage properties in Kyoto, another ancient capital, and its two neighboring cities.

The last observation deck on the southeastern side offers a view of the Asuka-Fujiwara area where other ancient capitals were placed.

Seen to the far south is the Omine mountain range with peaks of at least 1,500 meters, part of the components of the Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range.

However, Mount Hieizan and the Omine mountains can only be glimpsed at such a distance that it seems a little too far-fetched to call it a World Heritage view.

“This is only a gateway to the World Heritage sites. Those who become interested should go there some other time,” Okajima said.

Also, there is a possibility that a sixth site could be seen from Mount Myojinyama in the near future. The Nara prefectural government is promoting the registration of the Asuka-Fujiwara area as a World Heritage site.

Okajima said he is already thinking about a sightseeing pamphlet boasting “the view of six World Heritage sites.”

There used to be the Hirumedo route running through Mount Myojinyama, connecting Yamato (present-day Nara Prefecture) and Kawachi (Osaka Prefecture) provinces. Hirume Daijingu shrine was set up on top of the mountain during the Edo Period (1603-1867), making the route a bustling one with worshippers conducting pilgrimages to Ise Jingu shrine in present-day Mie Prefecture, it is said.

One of the observation decks at the top is equipped with a bell called “Yukyu no Kane” (eternal bell) for lovers to pledge their love to one another. It was designated as one of the “Lover’s Sanctuary” spots well suited for marriage proposals by a nonprofit organization this year.

To get to Mount Myojinyama, take a bus at Oji Station on the JR and Kintetsu lines and get off at the Myojin 4-chome stop.

It takes about 40 minutes to walk to the summit from a parking lot at the base of the mountain through a paved trail.