5 Best Hikes in Japan

Japan is a hiker’s paradise. The country is home to some of the most epic trails in the world, with jaw-dropping scenery and challenging terrain. From lush green forests to snowy peaks and everything in between, there are abundant opportunities to enjoy nature in this beautiful country. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best hikes in Japan. These trails are stunningly beautiful and accessible for visitors of all skill levels. Whether it’s a short stroll or a strenuous trek that lasts all day, these are the top hikes in Japan you won’t want to miss out on!

Saitama

Mount Hodo Chichibu

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Photo: Hodosan Ropeway

Saitama Prefecture is to the north of Tokyo. It’s known for its sake, historic towns, museums, large parks, and open spaces. In the western part of Saitama, you will find Chichibu, a beautiful area that’s rich in nature and is a popular spot among hikers in Japan. In this area, you’ll find Mount Hodo, also known as Hodosan in Japanese. Mount Hodo stands 497 meters tall and features a hiking trail that’s 8.9 kilometers long. The hike can take between 2.5 to 3.5 hours depending on your speed and fitness level. On the way, there are a lot of restaurants, souvenir shops, and cafes near Nagatoro Station.

Level: Beginner to moderate
Hiking season: All year round. Best to go in autumn and spring

Kagoshima

Yakusugi Land

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Photo: by Erik

This is a 16-kilometer wide national park located 40 minutes from Anbo Town. Yakusugi Land is not only an ideal place to enjoy nature, it’s one of a few hiking places in Japan where you can see yakusugi—Japanese cedars that are more than one thousand years old. Yakusugi Land has five hiking trails to choose from, suitable for any level. The hiking trails range from 30 minutes to 2.5 hours long. The park has Japanese and English brochures and signs along the trail that are in English. So next time you think of things to do in Kagoshima, don’t forget to check out Yakusugi Land.

Level: Beginner to moderate
Hiking season: Spring, summer, and autumn

Tohoku

Shirakami Sanchi

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This stunning area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s located in the northern part of Honshu, Japan’s main island. Shirakami Sanchi has various hiking trails, making it one of the best places for hiking in the country. The easiest hiking trail is Shirakamidake Tozanguchi Chushajo, a 30-minute walk from Shirakamidake Tozanguchi Station. If you’re up for a challenge and want to reach the summit of Mount Shirakami, it can take up to two days. Along the hiking trail, you will see the beautiful blue waters of Aoike Pond and Lake Juniko. Shirakami Sanchi is an excellent place for outdoor enthusiasts interested in hiking, fishing, and camping

Level: Beginner to advanced
Hiking season: Spring, summer, and autumn 

Shizuoka and Yamanashi

Mount Fuji

Japan's highest mountain, Mount Fuji stretches across Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures. There are four hiking trails to the summit. They all have numbered stations along the path: Yoshida Trail, Subashiri Trail, Gotemba Trail, and Fujinomiya Trail. All of these routes have something different to offer and are best suited for different types of hikers. You can start hiking from the fifth station, which is easy to access by car or bus. The Yoshida Trail, located in Yamanashi Prefecture, is the most popular hiking trail among tourists and residents. Its base camp has a larger parking space and many mountain huts, making it the perfect place for hikers to relax. No matter which route you choose, it will take about five to 10 hours to reach the summit. Most people hike at night to reach Mount Fuji's summit so that they can watch the sunrise.
Photo: by Luke Stackpoole

Japan’s highest mountain, Mount Fuji stretches across Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures. There are four hiking trails to the summit. They all have numbered stations along the path: Yoshida Trail, Subashiri Trail, Gotemba Trail, and Fujinomiya Trail. All of these routes have something different to offer and are best suited for different types of hikers. You can start hiking from the fifth station, which is easy to access by car or bus. The Yoshida Trail, located in Yamanashi Prefecture, is the most popular hiking trail among tourists and residents. Its base camp has a larger parking space and many mountain huts, making it the perfect place for hikers to relax. No matter which route you choose, it will take about five to 10 hours to reach the summit. Most people hike at night to reach Mount Fuji’s summit so that they can watch the sunrise. 

Level: Moderate to advanced
Hiking season: Summer

Shosenkyo Gorge

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Photo: Yamanashi Kankou

This is a popular hiking spot in Yamanashi Prefecture, and is a great place to go if you want to explore some of Japan’s most beautiful scenery. The hiking trail starts from Nagatoro-Bashi and leads you to Shosenkyo. The trail is six kilometers long, and it will take you no more than three hours to get there. The hike is suitable for beginners, and it’s also family friendly. There’s also a restroom along the path to use if needed. During the trek, you will arrive at the famous Sengataki Waterfalls, which is one of the top 100 waterfalls in Japan. There are a multitude of restaurants, cafes, and shops in Shosenkyo, and some of the restaurants are pet friendly

Level: Beginner to moderate
Hiking season: All year round 

RECOMMENDED: Best Five Mountain Hikes in and near Tokyo and Best Places to Go Glamping In Japan

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