About this site

This is a comprehensive website for Hiking throughout Japan. There’s so little hiking information in English, so we’d like to change that by offering one complete site for outdoor enthusiasts living in Japan! If you’ve been on a cool hike that you’d like other people to know about, then contact me and I can post the information here. Just follow the same format and include relevant information. This site will eventually be expanded to include a lot of more features (including a chance for readers to upload their own photos). Stay tuned for more information.

We’d also like to thank everyone who’s commented on the hikes and who’ve offered suggestions/corrections to what’s been written. It’s your important feedback that will make the information so much more useful. So , if you’ve been on one of these hikes using the information written, then please let us know if it was useful or if you ended up getting lost! I’ve been known to mistake “left” and “right” more than a few times!

89 Comments on “About this site”

  1. kazuhiko watanabe Says:

    hello, I’m Kazuhiko ,Japanese.
    I read your webysite for the first time and got interested a lot in your morivation for running the website.
    I’m doing a reseach project for the graduetion research class at I-NAC College in Niigata. I’m trying to find out foreigner’s knowledge and intersts in trekking in Japan.
    Trekking and outdooractivities are popular in countries such as U.S.A.,New Zealand and Canada. However ,we rarely see people from those countries in tekking and ontdoor activity locations around Japan.
    I would be greatful if you reply to my question If you don’t mind I will attatch a questinnaire and e-mail you again . I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    • Sigrid Ringström Says:

      Hello Kazuhiko and others.
      We are to people from Denamrk who is going to Japan in october. We have searched the internet for information, but there is very little. We would LOVE to go trekking, but the only company we found, walkjapan.com, cost 148.000 yen for a 4 day trip, and that is too much, its the same as the price to go to Japan from Denmark.
      Our interest in trekking in Japan is big, but we cant seem to find anything thats not too expensive. Do you know of anything? The trek we found with walkjapan.com sounds so interesting and beatiful.
      Write back if you want to know more or have any good advice:)
      Sigrid – fruringstrom@gmail.com

      • wes Says:

        Sigrid,

        You could try Japan Adventures. They do treks mostly in Hokkaido, but they also have a guide in Tokyo. Not sure what they have planned for the autumn.

        zope.emissary.co.jp/JA/

  2. Chris Says:

    Hi,
    Thanks for the website, I was really beginning to lose hope of getting out of the way in Japan, as most websites seem to consider the “Philosopher’s Walk” in Kyoto as a daytrip. Coming from Australia we really don’t have any problems with animals that might do you harm in the bush, or at least Mammals that might do you harm, so I was wondering if you could post up some info on how to deal with bears if you see them. I’m not particularly concerned but it’s always good to know what you are supposed to do in these situations.

    Thanks again for the website, Chris

    • Gregory Says:

      There’s a good article in Outdoor Japan magazine (there’s a link on the RHS of this page) about a black bear encounter in Honshu. Hokkaido’s brown bears are another story entirely…they can be massive, but tend to try to avoid humans. As always, common sense prevails.

      • wesu Says:

        Thanks for mentioning the black bear encounters. I agree that common sense does prevail, but I also feel that the Japanese media blows things way out of proportion. A significantly higher number of hikers fall to their deaths than die from bear encounters, but it’s the latter that gets so much attention. Black bears are a threatened species and I have not doubt in my mind that they’ll be extinct during my generation due to government sanctioned killing.

  3. EWan Says:

    Hi,

    Just a note to say thanks for putting in the effort – not only the walking but the writing. Am planning a trip for a walk in late October from Melbourne. I’ve been up to Takayama in the winter before and thought that I might take tent etc. and get up onto the ridge around Mt Washiba. I have a question though – do you think this is too late in the season (25th Oct.)? I wanted to stay out for about 5 days – I will be walking alone, and am prepared – but not experienced in snow. Most long walks done in Tasmania etc. Anyway – any hot tips would be appreciated – cheers. Ewan.

  4. wesu Says:

    hi Ewan. Thanks for the kind words. Sorry it’s taken me a while to respond. There will definitely be snow in the Kita Alps in late October, so you’ll need some crampons and maybe an ice axe.

    Trekking in the snow isn’t all that difficult, but you definitely have to be aware of the weather and you’ll need a compass. In sunny weather it’s no problem, but in fog/white out conditions it can be deadly.

    One alternative would be to climb Yake-dake, which is accessible from Shin-hotaka hot spring. You could climb that to gauge the amount of snow on the upper peaks. Or, you could try trekking on a different mountain range (i.e. something a little lower in altitude).

    Let me know if you have more questions

    wes

  5. chi Says:

    hi Wes, thanks for an awesome website! i’m japanese but grew up mainly overseas (UK and US) and have family in Japan and visit every year, and being an avid hiker/backpacker i’ve always been frustrated that there isn’t more info out there on hiking in Japan. last time i went on the Hakuba Goryu trail which was great but now i have tons of options! great job on a fantastic website and keep the info coming!

  6. Christian Says:

    Hi,

    Beeing an enthusiastic hiker from Germany I´m planning two days of hiking during a short business trip to Japan this summer. There are a lot of hikes on this homepage with good descriptions that I would love to hike, but unforunately there is no map and I`m complete lost without one.
    Couldn`t you please add a tiny map with the hiking spot marked on it to each reagion/category ?
    This would be very helpfull for somebody who has never been to Japan before.
    Thank you!

  7. Michele Says:

    Hi!
    Just writing to say this is a really great site! I’ve noticed the sad lack of english information in regards to walking and hiking in japan, and this will certainly come in handy. The only thing I would recommend is including maps, but I know they can be super hard to find regardless.
    If I want to contribute to this site do you have contact info?

  8. wesu Says:

    Michele,

    Thanks for the comment. You’re not the first person to mention maps! The main problem is copyright issues, so I’m in the process of creating my own maps for all of the mountains, which will take a few years to complete.

    If you’d like to contribute to the site, then I’d be more than happy to accept your offer. Contact me at wescamus@gmail.com for more information. Unfortunately I won’t be able to offer any monetary compensation, but I will cite you as an author for anything you contribute.

    Wes

  9. NIGEL Says:

    Wes, Great website.

    Hoping to head out into the mountains for a day trip this weekend from Tokyo. Do you have any suggestions for somewhere that will be nice and green with vast views and no touristy temples/shops?

    Nigel

  10. wesu Says:

    Hi Nigel. Thanks for the comment. I’m based in Osaka, so it’s difficult to give you good advice about hikes in the Kanto area. I’ve heard Mt. Myogi is supposed to be pretty spectacular (and hair-raising with all its chains). If you’re looking for nice views of Mt. Fuji, then you could consider heading to the Hakone area.
    I’m not exactly sure which areas will be green yet – the higher in elevation you go, the browner it gets.

    You might want to consider checking the forums at Outdoor Japan and posting a question there.

    http://outdoorjapanforums.com/groupee?cdra=Y&s=5391062951

    Let me know if you have any other questions.

    Wes

  11. Ben Says:

    I really love this website. It’s definitely the best resource on the net for hiking in Japan for us English speakers. That you include the Japanese is especially helpful. I am wondering though if you have any trail maps that you could possibly post online. They are surprisingly difficult to come by. In particular, I’m looking for kita alps trail maps.

  12. wesu Says:

    Ben,

    I’m in the process of creating trail maps for all of the hikes. Unfortunately it’s a long, slow process that could take years. I have, in the meantime, starting providing links to online maps where applicable.

    If you’re living in Japan, then you can pick up trail maps at any major bookstore nationwide. There’s a series called Yama-to-kogen (山と高原地図), which includes detailed trail maps for all major peaks in Japan. These are the ones I use when I go hiking. Unfortunately, they’re a bit pricey at 800yen each, but they are incredibly resilient and waterproof.

  13. Csabanese Says:

    Hi Wes,

    I plan to hike this summer a lot in niigata and seen your page. Great!

    i have seen comments about the lack of maps. why dont you try to link your reports with the website making thevery useful mountain map series for japan hikes? here is the link:
    http://yamachizu.mapple.net/

  14. wesu Says:

    Csabanese:

    Thanks for the suggestion. I’d actually known about the yamachizu site, and was debating on whether or not to add links to those maps.

    In the end, I have decided to link to those maps, and will be adding all of the links in the coming weeks. The yamachizu maps are good, but unfortunately you’re not able to click on the maps for a larger image, which might be disappointing to some who’d like to print them out and use them.

    In the long run, I’d like to create my own maps, which will take some time to do.

  15. Jill Says:

    Hi
    I have a trip booked for the end of the month (April 25th – yikes) and I realize that this overlaps with Golden Week which I am worried about. Can anyone suggest a good itinerary where I can hike / travel and be able to find accomidation?

    I would love to see some of the blossoms.

    Thanks

  16. Paul Says:

    Hi,
    I’m just starting to plan a trip for some 17-18 year old lads doing Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Our initial hope is to do an Award expedition in Daisetsuzan then to head for the Alpine regions for another trek plus other activities. Any advice on how to find guides (we will bring English Moumtain Leaders), suitable activity providers and routes would be appreciated. I have some first hand knowledge of Japanese Mountains and speak limited conversational Japanese enough to cope with non English speakers to some extent!!

  17. Leigh McDowell Says:

    I’m really happy to find your blog. A recent trip to Nagano reminded me of the wonders of the outdoors and hiking mountains in Japan. Looks like you’ve got a great resource here for people like myself looking for information on how to best access those wonders. Nice work, Wes.

    Leigh

  18. Gregory Backpack Says:

    Hey…I just came across this site…

    Hats off to Hiroki Ishikawa and other great Japanese adventurers!

  19. Becky K. Says:

    Hi, I am hoping to do a day or two of hiking, needs to fit into 4/10/11-4/13/11. I will eventually be in Tokyo to meet friends on 4/14.
    May have a day or two 4/14-4/28, again.
    I am 60 yrs old relatively fit, but need to stay at lower elevations, do not want to be where there is any snow. I’d love to be where the Sakura are current, I would guess altitude effects that as well as latitude? I will probably be by myself.
    I wondered about doing something like Tsukuba san near Tokyo, but wonder if there is something in the Kansai area or in Nagano. Forty years ago I was on a small island in the Seto Nai Kai, where flowers were raised and it was a lovely day walk, but I don’t remember the name of it.
    Of course I’d be delighted to do day hikes based out of an onsen!
    Speak some Japanese, read a little less.
    Experienced with Japanese daily life. Do you have suggestions?

    Thanks

    • wes Says:

      Becky,

      You’ll certainly have a fair amount of options in mid-April.

      Tsukuba will definitely be snow-free in April, and even though the hike is steep in places, it’s relatively short.

      If you want cherry blossoms, however, you might want to consider Mt. Yoshino near Osaka. It’s basically an entire mountain of cherry blossoms and most of the hike is done on a surfaced road which passes some really beautiful temples. The place does get very crowded during this time, though.

      Elsewhere, you could easily spend a day wandering around the temples of Nikko north of Tokyo. Most of the hiking is centered around Lake Chuzenji, but those peaks will still be covered in a lot of snow, but the temples near the town of Nikko should be snow-free.

      Kyoto city has a couple of interesting walks as well. If you’re interested in monkeys, then a trip to Arashiyama monkey park is in order. It’s in the Arashiyama area of Kyoto, and it’s a 20-minute hike to the top of a mountain where a large pack of monkeys live. There’s a hut on top of the mountain where you can feed the monkeys. The monkey park costs 500 yen to enter, but the monkeys are wild (not confined to cages) so it’s pretty interesting.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Wes

  20. Chinhin Says:

    Hi,
    Thank you for putting together such an informative site. My buddy and I are flying into Tokyo from June 15-19 to do some hikes in the Japanese Alps and we are considering Oku-hotaka but would like to know of some alternatives in the vicinity. Do you have any recommendations? Basically our criteria are:
    1. accessible by public transportation
    2. no camping required. (we are not planning to bring a tent)
    Any advice would be much appreciated!
    Chinhin (Hong Kong)

    • wes Says:

      Chinhin,

      Oku-hotaka is a great mountain, but there also also smaller peaks in the area if you don’t want to do an overnight trip. I think a lot of it will depend on the weather. Right now it’s the rainy season in Japan, so the conditions might not be so good.

      If you make it to Kamikochi, then I recommend climbing Yake-dake. It’s an active volcano and can be done as a day trip from there (6 to 8 hours round trip). There are a lot of easier, relatively flat hikes in Kamikochi itself that you could do if the weather is bad.

      Norikura-dake is a fun peak if you want to get a taste of the Alps without all the hard work. You can take a bus up to 2700m and then hike the remaining 300 vertical meters through the snow. The views are incredible when the weather is good.

      Habuka would be another option. It’s north of Kamikochi and accessible by overnight bus or train from Tokyo. It’s a nice village to be based in, and there are lots of hikes into the alpine through the ski fields. Taking the ski lifts will help save time. Right now there’s still quite a lot of snow in the Alps, so make sure you keep this in mind when you plan.

      Let me know if you have any other questions. There are a lot of mountains in this country!

      Wes

      • Chinhin Says:

        Hi Wes,
        Thank you so much for your advice. We would definitely consider Norikura-dake, if the kamikochi area turns out to be too soggy.

  21. santhosh Says:

    The blog is very interesting and very informative. I being fond of Treks, was desperately searching for hiking places. And i say, its my luck i some how got into this blog. Havent visited any place mentioned in your blog, but sure will update/comment once i visit any of them.


  22. Wow…great site! My husband and I live in Nogata-shi. We just moved to Japan from Saipan. My husband is Japanese-I’m American. We are in our early and mid 50′s, in fairly good shape, BUT have not been hiking in quite a number of years!!

    We love the out-doors and would like to go hiking as a weekend past-time. We are for all practical purposes-beginners. I’m actually the one who is pushing for this new adventure in our lives…so I’ll probably have to be the one to dig up all the info. I was wondering- do you know of any sites (in English) that would help us to get started? I went hiking YEARS ago-in America…

    Anyinfo for beginners would be appreciated (anyone else out there that has any info-I’d love to hear from you!). I really appreciate this site…been looking around for info on Japan hiking- but most is in Japanese.

    Would also like to find a hiking club in our area-Nogata-shi.

    Thanks for your hard work and effort here!

  23. ken Says:

    I am exploring the possibility of a cross-Japan (E/W) hike; hiked across Scotland a few years ago using small hotels, B&Bs and the like, and the notion of a water-to-water crossing appeals to me. I am having difficulty finding material in English regarding longer hikes of this nature. I am in the early stages, so open to suggestions/opportunities in any area North to South. Timing is likely spring to summer 2012, and I have about 2-3 weeks for the hike. Really looking for a nightly room, not tent camping.

    • wes Says:

      Ken,

      You have a couple of options here. If you’re looking for the mountains, then you could do a traverse all the way across the Japan Alps. The only problem would be when to go, as the mountains remain buried under meters of snow until at least late June.

      Another option would be to do part of the Tokai Nature trail, a 1200km walk from Tokyo to Osaka. You probably won’t have time to do the entire thing, but part of it might be interesting for you.

      Here is the link:
      http://www.takaotozan.co.jp/takaotozan_eng1/tokai/index.htm

      Another option would be to do a pilgrimage route in Kansai. For example, you could walk from Yoshino to Kumano shrine via the Omine mountain range. You’d have to bring sleeping gear/food because the mountain huts are unstaffed. There’s also another pilgrimage route from Yoshino to Kumano shrine. Both of these have been included at UNESCO World Heritage sites and are surprisingly remote.

      Good luck with the planning and let me know if you have any other questions. Most of the information about these routes is in Japanese, so if you have any Japanese friends, I’m sure they can help you search for useful websites.

      Wes

  24. Nadine Says:

    Hi Wes,

    We are from melbourne and although hiked around the world never attempted Japan till now. We are planning to do the kamikochi-yari-hotaka-kamikochi circuit starting oct 5th for 3 days.

    I have the Japan hiking book but still have a few questions if you don’t mind:
    - will it be very busy considering it is autumn and just before sports weekend
    - do the mountain huts only provide tatami mats for sleeping? I thought I saw bunks but in reading there was a mention of cramming together on the floor.
    - what time does the food start being served if we want to make an early start and decide not to bring food.

    Finally is there a more recommended hike of similar duration than this one for this time of year?

    Thanks heaps! Nadine

    • wes Says:

      Nadine,

      I’ll reply to your questions above, but please see your other post for information about Yari.

      The mountain will be busy during the autumn, but in October the majority of hikers head to Dakesawa to view the foliage. I’m not sure how many people actually climb Mt. Yari in early October. The hut is huge, though and never turns anyone away

      The mountain huts provide futon to sleep on. You’ll be sharing floor space with other hikers. Bring earplugs because Japanese people love snoring.

      Meal times are usually set. It’s usually 5:30 or 6pm depending on the hut and number of people. Really busy huts have 2 or 3 dinner sittings, and you’ll be assigned a time when you check-in.

      If you don’t have a reservation and want to eat dinner, it’s better to arrive early (at 2 to 3 pm say), rather than just before dinner is served. Since it’s a set meal, they might not have enough food if too many unexpected people show up.

      Other hikes this time of year if you don’t decide to go to Yari would include Mt, Tanzawa (close to Tokyo), Hakusan traverse, Kita dake in the Minami Alps, and Oze National Park near Nikko.

      Wes

  25. Mike B Says:

    Hi Wes, hoping you have some information regarding hikes around Tokyo. Last year in October I was able to make it out to Mitake-san and Otake-san. I would like to do something similar this year but it would be on December 4th. I do not shy away from cold temps and snow, but will not be prepared for alpine hiking. Still, would rather get off the pavement and into the hills. Any suggestions for a day trip out of Tokyo?

    • wes Says:

      Mike,

      Do you want to do a day-trip? Mt. Kumotori is a fine choice, though a bit long for a day trip (unless you catch a really early train)

      The mountains of Nikko and Oze are covered in snow now, so you’ll need crampons.

      Elsewhere, you could climb Mt. Daibosatsu this time of year. Again, take an early train to Enzan station and a bus from there.

      The other option would be to do some hiking near Mt. Fuji, though it’s a bit far just for a day trip (there’s a good hostel near Lake Kawaguchi which makes for a good base)

      Keep an eye on the weather between now and then and make a decision based on how you feel. There aren’t so many mountains near Tokyo, as most of the area is pretty flat.

      I hope that helps

      Wes

  26. Mike B Says:

    Hi Wes! Thanks for the information. As it turned out I hiked Takao-san to Jimba-san on a fantastic day to be on the trail.

    Have a trip report at
    http://hikingwithmikeb.blogspot.com/

    Thanks again. Hope to make Japan again.

  27. Brian C Says:

    Hey man, your website’s great! Just got stationed in Camp Zama so I’ll be here a few years, unfortunately there aren’t many people interested in hiking / climbing / backpacking here, any chance I can hook up with whatever group you trip around with, or if you know of any groups in the zama-shi area?

  28. Rachel Grindlay Says:

    Hi Wes,

    Great website. I’m coming to Japan in late June – early July and have 2-3 days available to hopefully do some hiking. I do a lot of bushwalking in Sydney, Australia.

    I’ve downloaded the Lonely Planet’s Hiking in Japan chapter on Kansai and I like the look of the Yatsubuchi-no-taki walk. However, I notice you don’t have it written up on your site. Have you done it? Would you recommend it? Is it going to be full of everyone who reads Lonely Planet?

    I’m probably going to be based in Sakai so I’d be interested if you had any suggestions for walks that were easy to access from there.

    Thanks in advance.
    Rachel

    • wes Says:

      Rachel,

      Cheers for checking out the site.

      I’ve been up Yatsubuchi 2 or 3 times, and it’s definitely worth a visit. I guess my main reason for not writing it up on this site was that I got sidetracked and wanted to cover hiking trails not listed in Lonely Planet. Oh, and I guess I don’t have that many photos of Yatsubuchi. Hmmm, perhaps I’ll head up there sometime soon.

      The hike itself is rather long (bring a torch because you’ll more than likely be coming down in the dark depending on when you start). The trail really isn’t that crowded. You’ll run into people on weekends, but it’s nothing like hiking in the hills near Tokyo. Yatsubuchi is a popular place for “shower climbing” and you’ll see groups donned in full wetsuit gear who climb up and over the MIDDLE of the falls!

      From Sakai the closest hike would probably be the Kisen Alps. It’s a beautiful hike in one of my secret areas. It’s never ever crowded, even on weekends.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Wes

  29. Suz Says:

    Thank you for the wonderful information on this site! I’m an American residing in Fukushima-ken for two years. I had a very difficult time finding information for hikes until I expanded my Japanese vocabulary and spent many hours searching online. The English access on this site makes it much easier for me, however most of these hikes are far away and I don’t have much time off of work, usually only one day per week. That limits my hikes to local peaks accessible by bike, bus, or train since I can’t drive and I have to make it to the summit and back home in a day.

    The Japanese website http://www.yamareco.com has been very helpful for local hikes; hopefully others can use it as well. I combined it with information from Hiking in Japan to form my recent trek up Mt. Bandai last week. I’m hoping to summit 鳥海山 this summer before I go up Fuji, so if there are any significant changes to the blog post from 2008 I would be much obliged to hear about them.

    Again, thank you for your hard work and detailed descriptions. If you know of other hikes around the Koriyama area besides Bandai and Adatara (also on my to-do list) let me know!

    • wes Says:

      Sorry for the late reply Suz.

      The info for Chokai is still up-to-date. No major changes there.

      Other hikes near Koriyama? Not sure. There are some peaks around Lake Inawashiro that may or may not have trails. There’s also the back side of Mt. Bandai with the colorful lakes.

      Don’t forget about Mt. Azuma as well. It’s one of the most beatiful mountains in Fukushima.

      There should be a Japanese guidebook in the bookstores specifically on Fukushima Prefecture,. Yama-to-keikoku has a series of guidebooks for every prefecture. It’s called “Fukushimaken no Yama” and the cover looks like this

      http://www.yamakei.co.jp/products/detail.php?id=23060

      I hope this helps

      Wes

  30. Pascal Says:

    Hi Wes, I wrote a short comment on the Kita-dake hike yesterday. I actually arrived on your blog straight on that page. I took a bit more time today to go through more of the hikes you describe. It is a fantastic source of info, thank you so much!
    I will eventually consider public transport for the Kita-dake hike as it sounds easy to manage.
    I am also interested by the Tsurugi-dake hike.
    And so 2 questions:
    1) for tsurugi-dake, how does the hike that you describe differ from the one described in the Lonely Planet guide? Where exactly does it start (Murodo?)?
    2) For both Kita-dake and Tsurugi-dake hikes, is there a web site we can consult for weather forecast? so that we can decide just a couple of days in advance whether to go or not (my target dates for both hikes are mid July to mid Agust).
    Thanks in advance!
    Pascal

    • wes Says:

      Pascal,

      Thanks for the praise about the site and taking the time to comment. I’ll do my best to answer your questions.

      1) The hike description for Tsurugi featured on this site is a different approach from what is described in Lonely Planet. 99% of people approach Tsurugi from Murodo, but I actually prefer doing the hike from the other side of the mountain. For one it’s much safer than approaching from the Tateyama side. And two there isn’t as much up and down. It’s just one huge climb until reaching the summit (over 2000 meters of vertical elevation gain). The hike starts at a place called Banbajima. There’s no public transport there, so you’ll need to take a taxi. An alternative route would be to start at Murodo, go up and over Tsurugi, and then descend to Banbajima and hitchhike from there.

      2) There are a couple of websites for mountain weather (all of them are in Japanese unfortunately). You can also get good weather forecasts by watching the news on TV. Here’s are the links:

      http://tenki.jp/mountain/
      http://tenkura.n-kishou.co.jp/tk/kanko/kasel.html?ba=hr&type=15

      You can also try calling the mountain huts directly and asking if they know what the weather will be like. The weather is changeable in the Alps. I’ve had beautiful sunshine in Matsumoto city but torrential rain in the mountains, so a lot of the forecasts aren’t that reliable. If you’ve got a barometer then bring it along and you can check the barometric pressure yourself.

      I hope that helps
      Wes

  31. Pascal Says:

    Wes,
    Thank you for the web sites, I will get help from my Japanese colleagues in the office to read them.
    Your alternative route for Tsurugi-dake sounds exciting as it seems you can consider doing it even on a busy week-end… Is reaching Banbajima from Tokyo by car a possible option? Leaving on a very early Saturday morning and returning Sunday afternoon? Regards. Pascal

  32. Pascal Says:

    And one more question please: the hut you refer to for the Tsurugi-dake hike, is that the Kenzan-so one as in the Lonely Planet guide? If not, which one is it / do you have a telephone number to book?
    Thanks
    Pascal

    • wes Says:

      It’s a different hut from what’s mentioned in LP. The hut name is Hayatsuki Goya (早月小屋) and here is the website

      http://www.net3-tv.net/~hayatsuki/

      When are you planning on climbing? There’s still A LOT of snow of on Tsurugi, so it’s better to wait until August if you can. I went there in mid-July one year and the snowfields on Tsurugi were scary. You’d need crampons and an ice axe for sure.

      The hut phone number is 090-7740-9233 but it’s better to reserve by e-mail. Their e-mail address is hayatsuki@ma.net3-tv.net

      I hope this helps

  33. Pascal Says:

    Ok I will wait until August! I will try to get back to you when done! Cheers. pascal

  34. Pascal Says:

    Hi Wes, this is Pascal again.
    We just completed the Kita-dake hike, it was great although the clouds stayed in at the top so we could not see much… That was just at the top. Rest was just fine!

    I have another question about the Mt Kuro hike that you describe. It basically does not tell how long the hike takes to complete, do you know? We want to do it as a day trip, and so want to make sure we get back on time to catch a bus back to Kawaguchiko then a train back to Tokyo.

    Thanks in advance.
    Pascal

    • wes Says:

      Pascal,

      Glad to hear you made it safely off Kita-dake.

      As far as Mt. Kuro goes, it should take between 4 and 6 hours, depending on your speed. I can imagine it’d be pretty hot and humid if you did it now, but aim to go as early in the morning as you can before it really starts to heat up.

      Good luck

      Wes

  35. Julien P Says:

    I just came back from a fantastic ascent of Kita-dake, guided in part by this site. Thanks! I’ll be sure to consult it again for my next hiking trip!
    Here are some photos:
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150962496706417.400115.514836416&type=1

  36. Rana Says:

    Hello!
    just came across this website and it looks pretty informative on hiking in japan! we are a group of 3 traveling in autumn to Japan (25 Oct to 5 Nov) and planning to spend 2 days of our holiday hiking..but so far we are a bit lost with the best options during this period- noting that we want easy-medium level hikes, and we are interested in most impressive sceneries more than just climbing the highest peaks- notably that it would be autumn so amazing leaves!

    Just wondering if you can provide any advice and if we can book any trekking with you???
    The ideas that we could gather so far are:
    1. Onuma Park
    2. Hachimantai
    3.Nikko
    4. Lake Towada and Oirase Stream
    5. Daisetsuzan National Park:
    6.Urabandai
    7. Hiking Mount Fuji/ the Five Lake region

    Thanks a lot!
    Rana

    • wes Says:

      Rana,

      Thanks for checking out my site. I’ll try to answer your questions as best I can.

      1) Onuma – This is a feasible option, though late October may be too late to see the fall colors. The area is pretty touristy, but you can rent bicycles from the train station and ride around the lake (highly recommended). The bike ride only takes a few hours. Not much hiking around here though. Mt. Komagatake is an active volcano towering above the lake, but it’s off limits to hikers unless you register at least 3 days in advance. The crater is not accessible though.

      2) Hachimantai. There will likely be snow on Hachimantai in late October, due to the relatively high elevation. You can always check with tourist information when you arrive, as the bus runs until early November.

      3) Nikko. The autumn colors usually peak there in early to mid-November. There are some nice hikes in the Lake Chuzenji area.

      4) Oirase is one of the most famous places in Tohoku to view the autumn colors. I personally haven’t been there, so I’m not sure of access or peak times, but I assume they’ll be the same as the rest of Tohoku.

      5) Daisetsuzan. Late October is way too late to visit, as the colors reach their peak in early to mid-September. The first snows fall at the end of September, and it’s full-on winter conditions at the end of October.

      6) Urabandai. This is another great option, as there are a number of good trails around the lakes behind Mt. Bandai. Be aware that this area is relatively close to the stricken Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, which is still releasing radioactive cesium.

      7) Fuji Five Lakes – This will probably be the best option to catch the colors at their peak. With any luck you’ll catch the first snows on Fuji and see the snow-capped volcano. There’s a great hike up Mt. Ryugatake on the shores of Lake Motosu. Highly recommended.

      If you find yourself in Kansai, then Kyoto is another great option. Every year the fall colors peak at different times (last year was mid-November in Kyoto), but you’ll definitely be able to catch the colors no matter where you are.

      Unfortunately, I don’t do any guided tours. I’m way too busy for that. There are a couple of guiding companies scattered throughout Japan that may be able to offer their services. I guess a lot depends on what you’re looking for and your budget. That being said, you’ll should also be able to get around on your own depending on where you end up going.

      Wes

  37. Jose Renteria Says:

    Hi,

    First of all thanks, what an amazing website, hard work and passion shows up every line I read. I am from Mexico and I live in Sendai. Could you please reccomend me a nice hike to take my kids (12 & 10) around Miyagi? I have climbed Fuji san and a few other small hikes by myself but I´d like a great view after a not so hard hike with my boys. Any ideas?
    Thanks a lot for your time.

    Jose

    • wes Says:

      Jose,

      Sorry for the late reply.

      The best hike near Sendai is Mt. Zao. IF you take the bus or drive to Katta-toge, then it’s an easy hike over some rolling volcanic hills, past an emerald green lake, to the summit of Mt. Kumano. From there you can continue up and over Mt. Jizo to the top of the gondola, and take it down to Zao hot spring (or just retrace your steps back to Katta-toge parking lot)

      The other place to visit is Yamadera, which is a mountainside temple. I don’t have it written up on the site because it’s more of a stair climb than a hike, but it’s still well worth a visit if you haven’t been there already. Take the JR Senzan like from Sendai station. It’s about 50 minutes by express train to Yamadera station. From there you can walk to the temple.

      I hope this helps

      Wes

      • joserenteriac Says:

        Thanks a lot Wes! I know Yamadera and I´ll plan for the Zao hike before the snow comes.

        Have a great day.

        José

  38. Rana Says:

    hello!

    sorry for the very late “thank you for the great advice!” as I’ve been disconnected from anything other than work email!!

    well my friends have now planned the Japan trip for end of October, and i guess we will only have some time to hike in Nikko, and maybe a little bit in Hakone.
    Any specific hike recommended within the Nikko national park? been reading about Mount Nantai and Shirane but not sure how feasible!

    thanks,
    Rana

  39. Merita Says:

    Hi there. So glad I stumbled on your site- think you’re on to a great thing here! I am training for the Oxfam Trailwalker back in NZ in April and need some decent walks (anything more than 10km) for training. If you know of anything near Suzuka, Mie Prefecture I would really appreciate some help. The long, flat areas around the river here are the closest to off-road training I’m getting but I am bored already (the mountains are calling to me)! Apparently the Suzuka mountain range has some good hikes but I can’t find any information on them in English, although I have taken the ropeway up Mount Gozaisho- beautifull!

    • wes Says:

      Merita,

      Yes, there are some good hikes in the Suzuka mountains, but I hope you’re prepared for snow hiking!

      You should definitely go to Mt. Fujiwara. The nearest station is Nishi-Fujiwara on the Kintetsu line. Get off there and head into the mountains. The trail to Fujiwara-dake (藤原岳) should be clearly marked. It’s a popular hike in the snow, so the route should be clearly marked.

      If you have experience in the snow, then you can walk along the ridge from Mt. Fujiwara over to Mt. Oike (御池岳). The only problem with hiking over there is I’m not sure if route 306 is open to traffic in the winter, which means you’d have to hike all the way back. It’s probably a good 10km on the ridge to Oike. I haven’t done the hike personally, so I’m not sure of trail conditions.

      If you’ve done Mt. Gozaisho, then I recommend Mt. Kama (鎌ヶ岳). It’s on the same ridge as Gozaisho, but about 2 hours further south. Again you’ll need an ice axe and crampons/snowshoes if hiking in the winter. A nice long hike would be to climb Gozaisho, head along the ridge to Mt. Kama, and then back down the valley to Yunoyama hot spring. It’s about a 7 hour hike, so you’d want to start early if doing it this season because of decreased daylight hours.

      I hope that helps. Let me know if you have other questions.

      Wes

  40. Ken Says:

    Hi! Thanks for the website and all the info. Forgive me if this has been covered elsewhere, but I was wondering if anybody has any info on off-trail hiking in Japan. I’m from the U.S., where there are plenty of national forests where you can just pull over to the side of the road and just go walking into the forest or up a mountain or whatever you want, which is what I like to do.
    I’ve tried looking up the official regulations for the national parks etc. in Japanese but not much luck… Just wanted to see if anybody has any experience or background.

    Also I’m in Ogaki, Gifu, so if anybody can suggest any good hikes closeby (on trails or otherwise) it would be much appreciated.

    Thanks!

    Ken

    • wes Says:

      Ken,

      Thanks for checking out the site.

      In Japan, most people don’t do off-trail hiking unless it’s for a specific purpose (picking mountain vegetables, hunting animals, searching for mushrooms, harvesting cedar trees, etc). The National Park system here is completely different from the US. There are no park rangers and a lot of land is actually privately owned.

      That being said, you can pretty much hike anywhere you want, but I would make sure you know the terrain first, as it’s incredibly easy to get lost if you’re below tree line. I’ve had to forge my own trail a few times and it’s not fun. The terrain is usually incredibly steep, with dangerous cliffs often buried in the undergrowth. Expect a spider web every few feet, as well as ticks, mosquitos, horseflies, and leeches. Going off-trail means you’re more likely to encounter bears, so it’s another issue to consider.

      However, if going off-trail is your cup of tea, I would start local first. There are usually fire trails and logging roads built on 90% of Japan’s mountains. Keep your bearings and don’t go alone. If you do have an accident and need help then no one will come and save you. If you’re on a trail at least someone is likely to come along.

      In the alpine areas above tree line, you could, in theory, walk anywhere you’d like but will likely get scolded for trampling endangered wildflowers and for scaring ptarmigan out of their nesting sites.

      As far as hikes near Ogaki, Mt. Ryozen is a good choice (though avoid the summer as there are too many leeches). Mt. Ibuki has great views but the parking lot and souvenir shops on the summit ruin the experience. There are plenty of peaks north of Ibuki (Yokoyama, Nogo-hakusan, Arashima, etc). Plenty of bears in that area though, and you’ll need to wait until late April when most of the snow melts.

      I hope that helps

      Wes

  41. Ken Says:

    Hi Wes,

    Thanks for the reply – this is all really helpful info. The mountains here are definitely different from our Colorado mountains so it’s good to have as much background as possible.
    Thanks for the help!

  42. bobby Says:

    hello,
    i will be traveling in japan this april from 11-23 and i am planning to go hiking. i will be around okinawa, nagoya, tokyo and places between. i hope to hear suggestions. thanks!

    bobby

    • wes Says:

      Bobby,

      Sorry for the late reply. It’s been a busy winter.

      Which part of Okinawa are you going to be? There’s not much hiking on the main island unless you head to the northern tip (you’d need a car and it would take several hours with the horrendous traffic of Naha) If you’re further south (Ishigaki Island or Iriomote for example, there are plenty of great jungle hikes)

      The Japan Alps will still be buried under meters and meters of snow in April. Best to steer clear of them. You could climb a mountain with a view of the Japan Alps (Mt. Ibuki near Nagoya for instance).

      The most popular day hike from Tokyo is Mt. Takao, but the crowds of people will really put you off. Perhaps it’s better to head to Odake, which has more manageable visitors.

      You’ll probably catch the cherry blossoms at some point during your trip. The further north you head, the later they bloom.

      Are you an experienced hiker? How about hiking in the snow? A lot of the better peaks will be snow-capped in April, so my recommendations will depend a lot on your experience and fitness level, as well as what kind of hiking you want to do (valleys vs. forested areas vs. active volcanoes for instance)

      Let me know what other kinds of questions you might have

      Cheers,

      Wes

      • Kit Says:

        Hi Wes

        THis is very helpful as I’m going to Japan next Friday! I’m really hoping to go to Japan Alp just to learn that it will open in mid-April :( Anyway, I might try some of the hiking places you have mentioned.

        Cheers

      • bobby Says:

        hello,
        thank you for the suggestions. i will be in japan on the 11th of april, i am an experienced hiker for tropics but not in a snowy mountain, and my plan is to try one since most of the mountains are covered in snow but i dont have the needed equipments. i can also try mt. takao. is there a group that i can go with? not really a big group. thanks again

  43. Tony Says:

    hi there
    thank you for making such a cool website.
    I am intending on visiting japan for the month of April (next week).
    I was sad to read that the alps will be under snow…but then i could always learn to ski!!!
    I was keen on doing some long hikes, hut to hut, preferably with onsens & lots of natural beauty, could you recommend some hikes that would be suitable during the month of April?
    I am open to travel anywhere in the country.
    THANK YOU,
    Tony

    • wes Says:

      Tony,

      All the of the best multi-day treks are buried under meters and meters of snow. Hokkaido, Tohoku, and the Japan Alps are pretty much off limits.

      You have lots of options for day hikes.

      If you want to do an overnight hike, then Kyushu is the place to go.

      Mt. Kuju is a great traverse. Start day 1 at Makinoto-toge, hike up and over Kuju and Naka-dake, then descend to Bogatsuru. There’s a hot spring here, and you can camp or stay in the hut. The next day, climb Mt. Taisen and then descend to Choja-baru. Lonely Planet has a pretty good descrption of the route.

      If you want to do a 3 or 4 day trek, then head down to Yakushima and traverse across the entire island over Mt. Miyanoura. It’s a great trek – just be prepared for rain.

      I hope this helps

      Wes

  44. Tony Says:

    thanks :-)

  45. Jim Says:

    Just found your very helpful site. We will be making our first trip to Japan for about 3 weeks in late May/early June. We start our trip in Tokyo, end in Nara/Kyoto area, and have about a week in between when we would like to do some walks and see some of the countryside in that general region. We will only be equipped for day walks so ideally we will stay for a few days somewhere between as a base for several day walks. Any suggestions? We are middle-aged but fit and ready to walk 5-6 hours a day.

    BTW, a small suggestion for your site. It would be helpful to include a small locator map for each walk or each section just to indicate what part of the country it’s in, and the nearest main cities. I’m not very familiar with the geography or the prefectures yet so I spend a lot of time jumping to Google maps just to find out where these places are.

    Thanks,
    Jim

    • wes Says:

      Jim,

      Terribly sorry for the late reply. It’s been a hectic couple of weeks at work.

      What kind of scenery/terrain are you interested in exploring? You have a lot of options available. Kamikochi is a highly recommended place. Accomodation can get quite expensive if you stay in the hotels, but there is an affordable campsite where you can rent tents (or stay in small cottages). Kamikochi is relatively flat, but you do have options for getting up into the alpine (you won’t be able to scale the larger peaks in a day though) Kamikochi is the closest thing in Japan to an “alpine” resort. You could combine this trip with a trip to say, Takayama city, which is the “Kyoto of the Hida area”. There’s a place called Shirakawa-go which is a collection of traditional thatched-roof farmhouses. You can actually stay in the farmhouses for an affordable price (8000 yen with 2 meals).

      If you’re looking to hike/walk in the Kansai area, there’s a path called the “Yama-no-be-no-michi, which is written up in the Lonely Planet Hiking in Japan guide. It’s more of a walk through the countryside than a proper hike, but you can get a taste of small villages and also see some ancient burial mounds and old temples and shrines. It starts at Tenri station and finishes at Sakurai station (both on the Kintetsu line)

      Yes, I realize that not having maps on the site is a bit of a hindrance. I’ve considered using Google maps, but I don’t really like their platform. I want to create my own basic maps of each region so you can get a better idea of where the hikes are positioned when you click on each region. It’s an ongoing project and I just need to hire a gifted web designer who can make it happen.

      Please let me know if you have any other questions and good luck with the planning.

      Wes

      • Jim Says:

        Thanks Wes, that’s very helpful – I’m working through the LP guides to read up on the places you mention, and may have more questions then. Our main wish is to see some of the nature of Japan to balance our time in Tokyo and Kyoto/Nara.

        Re maps, I realise detailed maps would be a major undertaking. I was just thinking of a simple graphic indicator of which part of the country each walking region is in. Another way might be simply to arrange the list of regions into regional groups e.g. central Honshu, near Tokyo, western Honshu, etc. – similar to the chapters in the LP hiking and general guides. Just a thought.

        Thanks again,
        Jim

  46. Davina Says:

    Hi Wes, I am doing some research work on the benefits of walking and have tried to find information about whether trekking/hiking is a popular physical activity for the Japanese- I am really struggling to get any numbers and I need that for my report. Do you have any idea where I could find stuff like that? Any help would be really appreciated!

    Thank you,
    Davina

    • wes Says:

      Davina,

      Sorry for the late reply. I’ve been searching on-line for data, but haven’t been able to find much myself. Can you read Japanese or have access to someone who can?

      I would suggest contacting the Japan Mountaineering Association. http://www.jma-sangaku.or.jp/contact/index.html

      They might be able to help you find some answers. I’m not sure if they can understand English, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

      The only data I’ve found so far is about mountaineering accidents in Japan (as well as data on how many people climb Mt. Fuji every year)

      Hiking is an immensely popular activity in Japan. Sorry I don’t have exact numbers for you.

      You could also try JNTO (Japan National Tourism Organization)
      http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/contact/index.html

      Good luck in your search for data and let me know what you find. I’m interested in that stuff too!

      Wes

  47. Michelle Says:

    Hi Wes

    Thanks again for sharing your knowledge of Hiking in Japan with myself and others. Your blog is a great resource.

    We will be hiking in Hokkaido from late June to late July, wilderness camping the majority of the time. While the Lonely Planet hiking guide highlights certain risks, we need more local information to assess the significance of these risks.

    1. I understand that not all water sources in Hokkaido are contaminated with echinococcus, but it’s not clear how often people need to boil or filter water.
    - Is potable water available frequently from huts, springs or other non-contaminated sources?
    - Or will we need to filter or boil water daily?

    2. Japanese B encephalitis: I’ve read that the risk is highest in the western part of the country from July to October.
    - Is this also true for the western part of Hokkaido?
    - Are mosquitos a big problem in July?
    - Is it a big enough risk to warrant getting immunised?

    3. Expected weather: We’re packing gear to deal with everything from up to 30C at sea level, to camping down to 5C at high camps.
    - Would you expect to camp in colder conditions than this?

    Thanks for your help!

    Michelle

    • wes Says:

      Michelle,

      Terribly sorry for the late reply. I hope your trip planning is going well.

      1) If you’re in the wilderness, you’ll definitely need to boil all of your water just to play it safe. (especially in Daisetsuzan). Water in towns is completely safe to drink.

      2) I wouldn’t worry about getting vaccinated. Cases of encephalitis are rare. Mosquitoes aren’t a problem at all in Hokkaido. Horseflies are rampant during August, but July should be manageable.

      3) You won’t have 30C weather in Hokkaido. The climate is the same as Canada, so bring a jacket, fleece, and down jacket. I’ve had temperatures around 15C at sea level even in August. I’d also prepare for conditions close to zero in Daisetsuzan, especially in June. There’s still quite a bit of snow up there.

      Let me know if you have any other questions. Good luck with the rest of your planning

      Wes

  48. Michelle Says:

    Excellent info, thanks Wes. Nice to have these things confirmed. Will pack some warmer clothing!

    I’d also like to ask you about managing the bear risk. My husband has done a lot of camping in the USA and Canada and there they never cook at the place they camp, they hang their food high in trees, sleep in clean clothing etc. Some places have storage platforms or boxes for food. We can’t find any mention of similar practices in Japan. What do people do in Hokkaido when they are wilderness camping away from huts?

    Thanks, Michelle

    • wes Says:

      Michelle,

      You’re advised to hang your food (if there are trees around your campsite). If you climb Mt. Rausu then they have bear boxes at Rausu-daira campsite.

      Shiretoko peninsula has the highest concentration of bears, so camping is not advised. A friend of mine camped there illegally and his tent was surrounded by bears the entire night. They didn’t attack though. I guess they weren’t hungry enough.

      Funny thing though. I’ve never seen any hikers hang their food. Most keep it in their tents to prevent other animals (raccoon dogs, foxes, mice) from getting into it. My feeling is that the foxes will be more of a problem in Hokkaido than the bears!

  49. Michelle Says:

    Many thanks again. Only two sleeps to go til we hit Hokkaido. Will post to your blog if we do or see anything unusual. Regards, Michelle


  50. Hi Wes,

    Do you know how the weather in the Southern Alps compares in early July (now) and early-mid September?

    I wanted to attempt the Shirane-sanzan, but it looks like my timing in Japan is a little off: I will leave Japan at the end of this week and be back early-mid September. Either way leaves me no way to return from Nōtori-dake as the official climbing season (or at least the season with buses run) seem quite short.

    But I’d at least like to try Kita-dake. Looking at the forecasts, it looks like the weather is only so-so in the earlier part of this week with some showers and some sunshine.

    Is September usually better or worse? I know that the official climbing season for Mt Fuji is over by then, so it makes me wonder it might snow/be harsher to climb during that months. Then again, the pictures taken from the Southern Alps in September that I have seen all seem quite okay.

    • wes Says:

      Ax,

      The weather will be about the same temperature-wise, but in September you need to watch out for typhoons, which sweep through Honshu regularly.

      If you can I’d try to hit Kita-dake soon, as the weather will be stable for the next couple of days

  51. Carolinc Says:

    Hello!

    I’m so glad there’s a blog strictly for hikes in Japan! I’ll be going to Osaka the end of october and I was wondering what mt you rec. Preferences: ~4 hour round-trip hike,moderate difficulty.. amazing view for this time of the year..

    Any recs. would help! I’ll be there for 4 days and I want to dedicate about about 2 days to for hiking.

    Any advice would help! Thank you!

  52. Rachel Tonk Says:

    many of your directions start with “from the bus stop…” or “from the train station…” but they don’t specify which stop or station. I’m sure I’m missing something — could you clue me in?

    • wes Says:

      train and bus station names are covered under the “Access” section of each hike. Scroll down and you will find it.

  53. Magnus Says:

    Hi,
    Such a good and informative site here.
    I have a few question to ask too.
    I will be travelling to japan(tokyo) this year frm Nov 11 to 18. Objective are to do some snow alpine trekking till summit. These are the 2 mountains i have mind.
    1)Mt Yatsugatake
    2)Mt Yarigatake

    Can u please advise which one is the safest to hike during that period of time? Plus is it gonna be snowing? Thanks,hope u will help me here.

    • wes Says:

      Magnus,

      November weather is difficult to predict. Some years mid-November is completely snowed in while other years the Japan Alps have very little snow.

      Yatsugatake is a much safer mountain. The huts are open all year and lots of people do winter trekking. Yarigatake hut closes on November 3rd and Kamikochi closes shortly after that, so the only approach to Yari is via Shin-hotaka hot spring. You’ll have to carry in all of your gear and you’ll be completely alone, but it could offer a wonderful experience if you have the skills and equipment.

      You won’t really know about the weather conditions until late October, so it might be difficult to plan until then.

      • Magnus Says:

        Hi Wes,
        Thanks for the info. Guess i will wait till october then for the latest weather update.Cheers.

  54. Marc Says:

    FIrst, thanks so much for such a wonderful site! Second, I’m looking for a recommendation. I have the LP Hiking and have read through your site but there are so many options it’s overwhelming.

    We’re visiting Japan for two weeks at the end of May. From Tokyo, we wanted to stop somewhere in the Alps for around 3-4 days to see some small alps towns and get some hard trekking in. We can camp or stay in lodges…haven’t decided.

    Do you have any input for any decent routes that will be passable in mid-may? Mt. Azumaya (四阿山)sounded good—maybe catch end of cherry blossoms? But we’d be looking to pair that with something a bit more difficult…

    Then we’d like to go down to do Kumano Kodo for a few days. Eventually we fly from Osaka.


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