Nature Escapes: Best Hiking Spots around Japan

Japan is a paradise for people who love hiking! It’s no surprise that adventurers from all over the globe come to the country to experience its magnificent mountain peaks, lush forests and breathtaking views. Despite being close to Mount Fuji, which can be challenging in the winter, there are plenty of mountain trails in and around Tokyo that are perfect for beginners, families with children, couples and friends, or those looking for a pleasant day trip. Check out our top recommended hiking destinations that cater to every season, occasion, or challenge level.

Hikes for Beginners or Those with Families

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Hiking as a beginner or with smaller children can be intimidating. However, Mount Daibosatsu makes what would otherwise be a difficult experience quite enjoyable. Also known as Daibosatsu-rei and found in Yamanashi Prefecture, Mount Daibosatsu is 2,057 meters high. Its gradual incline allows for a relatively short three-hour hike. Even families with young children, including infants, can appreciate this safe and effortless trail. What sets this mountain apart are its remarkable views of both Mount Fuji and the Southern Japanese Alps. The stunning views from Mount Daibosatsu are even more impressive than those from steep mountains that take a lot of time and effort to climb. In the summer, beautiful flowers decorate the green fields along the mountain’s ridge. This appealing spot is especially popular among hikers from Tokyo due to its convenient location and easy access by car.

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Another great option for beginner hikers as well as families is Mount Jimba, which is not as crowded as the nearby Mount Takao. Despite its relatively low altitude of 854 meters, Mount Jinba provides exceptional views. On a clear winter day from the peak, Mount Fuji and the Japanese Alps can be seen in one direction, while Tokyo and Mount Tsukuba can be seen from the other. You can choose a shorter hike or take the complete route, enjoying a pleasant and open trek between Mount Jinba and Mount Takao. Along the way, you’ll find mountain teahouses for a soba or mountain hut meal. Access the trailhead from JR Fujino Station. This path covers around 4.5 kilometers with gradual inclines leading to the peak of Mount Jinba. It takes about 1.5 hours to reach the summit. A notable feature is a big white horse statue on the mountaintop, serving as a landmark and a popular spot for photos.

Couples / Friends 

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Are you looking for a romantic date surrounded by nature? Or maybe you and your friends would like to go on an adventure together. We recommend the Kuroyuri Hyutte mountain hut area. Located in the Northern Yatsugatake Mountains of Nagano Prefecture, Kuroyuri Hyutte is a year-round accessible mountain hut. This area hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics and provides splendid views of Mount Fuji from its peaks. At a height of around 2,400 meters, Kuroyuri Hyutte is famous for its easy winter trails, making it a magnet for hikers drawn to the lodge’s charm and the surrounding scenery. Hyutte Kuroyuri is a wonderful choice for a ladies’ day out, being favored by female hikers for its delightful offerings. The menu at the hut includes tasty dishes like beef stews, cowberry teas, cakes, and amazake, ensuring a delightful culinary experience. Nearby, Tengudake’s peak offers a stunning panorama and its own charming allure with green fields. While the trail can be done in a day, staying overnight at Hyutte Kuroyuri adds a touch of romance, allowing you to enjoy the sunset over Tengudake and admire the starry sky at night. 

Another fun option for couples or friend groups who are nature lovers are the Kamakura Trails. Just an hour away from Tokyo, these trails feature many attractive spots, such as the bamboo grove at Hokokuji, the Great Buddha statue, and stunning coastline views. The hiking trail takes around 1.5 hours, which is perfect for beginners. It features three trails: Tengoku, Daibutsu, and Gionyama. An added bonus is the proximity to the beach at Enoshima. After the hike, hikers can relax on the beach, fish, or even catch crabs. 

Staying Overnight

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For those who would like to spend more time exploring and taking in the mountains, staying a few days overnight at the Iodake Mountain Hut in Nagano Prefecture is ideal. Located in a well-known hiking area in central Japan, the hut is nestled between Mount Iodake and Mount Yokodake in the expansive Yatsugatake mountain range. This range provides captivating views of Yatsugatake’s vast crater and impressive vistas of multiple 3,000-meter-high mountains, including the iconic Mount Fuji, from its summit. For new hikers seeking an overnight adventure, the Yatsugatake Mountains are an excellent choice. The trails are beginner-friendly, and the mountain huts offer exceptional services. You can easily access the start of the trail by car or public transportation. Moreover, the trailheads start at high altitudes, allowing for quick access to breathtaking sights. Among the various mountain huts in Yatsugatake, the Iodake Hut stands out as a top recommendation, boasting well-maintained facilities, delicious food, and a friendly staff.

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For a more traditional Japanese overnight stay experience, consider Mount Mitake. Mount Mitake is part of the vast Chichibu Tama Kai National Park, located about two hours from central Tokyo. Mount Mitake offers more than hiking: it also offers the opportunity to experience overnight temple stays. The mountain has been a pilgrimage site for more than two thousand years, attracting devoted pilgrims who hike up the 929-meter tall peak and stay in shukubo, or traditional lodging at temples or shrines, at the summit. Staying at a shukubo offers an authentic Japanese experience—expect to sleep on futons on tatami floors, share bathing facilities, and enjoy meals made from locally sourced ingredients.

Day Trips from Tokyo 

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If time is your concern, there are options to experience the beauty of nature in the day and be back in time to enjoy dinner in the city. Mount Tsukuba (877 meters high) stands in the heart of Ibaraki Prefecture, easily reached by public transport and conveniently close to Tokyo. It features shrines at its base and summit, with a cable car and restaurants nearby. The mountain holds spiritual significance, especially around the ancient 800-year-old Japanese cedar tree, Shihosugi, and unique rock formations. While hiking, you’ll find boulders shaped like ships and a frog. Two three-hour round-trip options are available: the 2.8-kilometer Shirakumobashi route or the steep 2.5-kilometer path. Reach the mountain from Asakusa Station by taking the Tsukuba Express to Tsukuba Station and then the Tsukuba shuttle bus to Tsukubasan Jinja Iriguchi.

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Another lesser-known trail that can be enjoyed as a day trip is Koburi Pass. It is located in Saitama Prefecture, begins at Agano Station on the JR Seibu Chichibu Line and is part of the Ogose hiking routes. It is easily accessible as it only takes about 90 to 120 minutes to reach from Tokyo. Koburi Pass offers a relatively straightforward three-hour hike that leads to various peaks in Saitama Prefecture, with spectacular views of lush foliage and rolling mountains. On clear days, look out for views of Tokyo Sky Tree!

A big thank you to Mayu Sugawara for her valuable contribution to this article. 

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