A closer look at Hiking in Japan, 2nd edition
This guidebook is now out-of-print. There are currently no plans for a 3rd edition of the book, but if this information changes, we will let you know.
Changes: Despite the obvious aesthetic changes which I will cover a little later, I think it’s most prudent to start with the content changes. In line with other guidebook updates, the publishers have kept most of the existing print intact, so those of you looking for new hikes not mentioned in the first edition may be a bit disappointed. However, extra information has been added in the ‘extra hikes’ section (currently renamed as ‘more hikes’). For instance, there’s an alternate trail leading off from Yari-ga-take towards Otensho-dake that wasn’t mentioned in the first edition. This is a good chance to view the Hotaka range from a different perspective. On the Tsurugi-san hike in Shikoku there are a couple of alternative routes that weren’t mentioned before, including a descent down the northern face of Miune. Hokkaido dwellers will be happy to note that Shari-dake has been added to the list of extra hikes. The Kansai section has been completely reworked, and two of the most problematic hikes (Yura-gawa and Kunimi-dake) have been moved from the main section to the ‘more hikes’ section.
The ‘easy-medium-difficult’ rating system from the first edition has been renamed ‘easy-moderate-demanding.’ I’m not sure if it’ll be any easier for newcomers to grasp the physical exertion required for the hikes, but each multi-day hike listed in the new edition now includes expected hiking time, distance, and vertical elevation gains (hooray!). A new section in the front of the book has been added called ‘History and Culture of Hiking’, which includes information about the Hyakumeizan, pilgrimages, and the role of religion in the mountains. Most of this information was scattered through the first edition but has now been consolidated into one easy-to-reference section.
Now let’s move onto the appearance. The green color scheme of the first edition has been replaced by vibrant tones of red. The maps also reflect this new design, and are much easier to read and decipher than the original ones. Rumor has it you’ll be able to pore over your maps under a full moon without a torch!
All of the photographs have been relocated to a section at the very beginning of the guidebook. This is good news for those of you who had to tear out the pictures in the old book that were always placed in annoying locations. Most of the general stuff that appears in every Lonely Planet guidebook (Health and Safety, Getting Around, et al) has been pushed to the very back of the new edition. This is great news for those sharp souls who noticed that the very first hike in the 1st edition didn’t begin until page 112! The first hike now begins on page 61 (phew.)
The verdict: So, now that you’re familiar with what to expect, the million dollar question would have to be whether or not to purchase the new edition. Those of you who don’t have the first edition but are truly interested in getting into the outdoors should definitely consider purchasing the update. If you’ve got the first edition and have done over 90% of the hikes contained within, then I wouldn’t put it too high on your priority list. However, if you’ve been served well by the first edition and have yet to check out some of the hikes, then it might be worth your while to pick up the new book. If you’re not too keen on shelling out the 2700 yen for the book but are still interested in adding it to your collection, just remember that you could always ask one of your friends or family members to buy it for your as a birthday/graduation/holiday present. Or, if you want to get really creative as I did, then you can convince your private student to give it to you in lieu of a lesson payment.