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The Best Places To Go Hiking In Japan


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Hadria Gordon



Japan is a country renowned for its rich cultural heritage, breathtaking landscapes, and countless natural wonders. It offers a plethora of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts and avid hikers to explore its diverse terrain. From towering mountains and ancient pilgrimage routes to lush forests and picturesque islands, Japan has something to offer for hikers of all levels of expertise.


Embarking on a hiking adventure in Japan not only allows you to immerse yourself in the stunning beauty of nature but also provides a unique opportunity to experience the country’s deep connection to its natural surroundings. It’s a chance to discover hidden gems, encounter historical landmarks, and embrace the serenity that can only be found in the great outdoors.


Whether you are seeking a challenging summit expedition or a leisurely stroll through scenic trails, Japan has an abundance of hiking destinations that will leave you in awe. From the iconic Mount Fuji to the remote wilderness of Shiretoko National Park, each location offers its own distinct charm and allure.


In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the best places to go hiking in Japan. Prepare to be inspired as we guide you through these breathtaking locations, each teeming with natural wonders and cultural significance. Lace up your hiking boots and get ready to explore the magnificent landscapes that await you in the Land of the Rising Sun.


Mount Fuji

As the highest peak in Japan, Mount Fuji holds an iconic status and is a must-visit destination for hikers and nature lovers. Located just a couple of hours from Tokyo, this majestic mountain stands at a staggering 3,776 meters (12,389 feet) and boasts a symmetrical volcanic cone that is synonymous with the country’s landscape.


Hiking Mount Fuji is a challenging but immensely rewarding experience. The official climbing season extends from early July to mid-September when the weather is relatively mild and the trails are open to hikers. During this time, thousands of adventurers from across the globe flock to the mountain to conquer its summit.


The most popular trail to the top is the Yoshida Trail, starting from the fifth station and winding its way up to the summit. Along the way, hikers are treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes, including the Fuji Five Lakes and the sprawling cityscape of Tokyo in the distance.


Reaching the summit of Mount Fuji just before sunrise is a magical moment that should not be missed. Standing above the clouds as the first rays of sunlight illuminate the horizon is an awe-inspiring sight that will stay with you forever. It is important, however, to be prepared for the challenges of hiking at high altitudes, as the air becomes thinner and the temperature drops significantly.


For those looking for a less strenuous hike, there are also several shorter trails around Mount Fuji that offer picturesque views of the mountain from different angles. The Fujinomiya Trail and the Gotemba Trail are popular alternatives for those seeking a different experience or avoiding the crowds.


Mount Fuji is not only a natural wonder but also holds deep cultural significance for the Japanese people. It has been a source of inspiration for centuries, capturing the imagination of poets, artists, and writers. Its iconic presence in Japanese art and literature has made it a symbol of beauty, resilience, and spirituality.


Whether you are a seasoned hiker or a novice adventurer, climbing Mount Fuji is an unforgettable experience that will leave you with a profound sense of accomplishment and a deeper appreciation for the wonders of nature.


Kumano Kodo

Deep in the heart of the Kii Peninsula in Wakayama Prefecture, lies the ancient pilgrimage route known as Kumano Kodo. This sacred trail has been a place of spiritual pilgrimage for over a thousand years, attracting travelers seeking both physical endurance and inner enlightenment.


The Kumano Kodo is a network of trails that lead to the three grand shrines of Kumano: Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Nachi Taisha, and Kumano Hayatama Taisha. These shrines have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites and hold great religious significance in Shinto and Buddhist traditions.


The hiking routes of Kumano Kodo offer a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage. As you make your way through the lush forests, charming villages, and serene mountains, you will encounter ancient stone steps, sacred shrines, and historic tea houses that have stood the test of time.


One of the most popular trails is the Nakahechi Route, which starts from the Tanabe City area and takes you through picturesque landscapes and traditional Japanese villages. Along the way, you can stay at traditional ryokans (guesthouses) and experience the warm hospitality of the locals.


For a more adventurous and challenging hike, the Kohechi Route offers a mountainous path that connects Kumano Hongu Taisha with the sacred Mount Koya, home to the famous Koyasan Buddhist temple complex. This route rewards hikers with stunning panoramic views and a deeper connection with nature.


Hiking the Kumano Kodo is not just about the physical journey; it is an opportunity to reflect, find inner peace, and reconnect with oneself. The spiritual essence of the pilgrimage can be felt at every step, as you follow in the footsteps of emperors, samurais, and countless pilgrims who sought solace and enlightenment along these sacred trails.


Immerse yourself in the rich history and cultural traditions of Kumano Kodo, explore the hidden gems of ancient Japan, and discover the spiritual significance that continues to draw people from all walks of life to this remarkable pilgrimage route.


Nakasendo Trail

The Nakasendo Trail, also known as the “Road through the Central Mountains,” is a historic route that once connected Tokyo (formerly known as Edo) with Kyoto during Japan’s feudal era. This 533-kilometer (331-mile) trail winds through picturesque mountain villages, lush forests, and scenic valleys, immersing hikers in the rich tapestry of Japan’s past.


The Nakasendo Trail offers a unique opportunity to experience the timeless beauty of rural Japan while retracing the footsteps of ancient travelers. The trail is divided into several sections, each with its own distinct charm and cultural significance.


One of the most popular sections is the Magome-Tsumago trail, which meanders through the Kiso Valley in Nagano Prefecture. This well-preserved section of the Nakasendo Trail showcases traditional Edo-period architecture, inviting hikers to step back in time and immerse themselves in the history and culture of rural Japan.


As you traverse the trail, you’ll encounter teahouses, small shops selling local crafts and souvenirs, and stunning views of the surrounding landscapes. The hospitality of the locals, known as omotenashi, adds to the charm of the journey, as they warmly welcome hikers and share stories of the past.


For those looking for a longer and more challenging hike, the Kiso-ji section offers a 70-kilometer (43-mile) stretch between Magome and the historical town of Narai. This trail takes you through dense forests, over towering mountain passes, and past beautiful waterfalls, rewarding you with breathtaking vistas along the way.


Whether you choose to hike a small section or embark on the entire Nakasendo Trail, you will be rewarded with a deeper appreciation for Japan’s history, culture, and natural beauty. The trail provides a glimpse into the lives of the travelers who once treaded this path, and the resilient communities that have preserved their heritage for generations.


Disconnect from the modern world, immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature, and travel through time along the Nakasendo Trail as you uncover the hidden wonders of Japan’s historic heartland.


Yakushima Island

Located off the southern coast of Kyushu, Yakushima Island is a natural wonderland that offers hikers an unforgettable experience in a pristine and enchanting environment. This lush island is renowned for its ancient cedar forests, breathtaking waterfalls, and diverse wildlife.


Yakushima is home to some of the oldest living trees in the world, with the Yakusugi cedar trees dating back thousands of years. These majestic giants create a mystical atmosphere as their towering branches reach towards the sky, blanketed in vibrant green moss.


Hiking in Yakushima is like stepping into a fairy tale. The island is crisscrossed by a vast network of trails, allowing hikers to explore its diverse landscapes and encounter its unique flora and fauna. The popular Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine trail offers a magical journey through ancient forests, with moss-covered stones, wooden bridges, and hidden groves.


For a more challenging hike, the Jomon Sugi trail leads to the iconic Jomon Sugi cedar tree, estimated to be around 7,200 years old. This sacred tree is a symbol of Yakushima’s resilience and is protected within a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Aside from its stunning forests, Yakushima is also known for its breathtaking coastline. The coastal trail of Arakawa offers panoramic views of the sparkling turquoise sea, dramatic cliffs, and secluded beaches. It’s the perfect place to take a break and bask in the tranquility of this remote island.


Yakushima’s unique ecosystem is also home to a variety of wildlife, including the Yakushima macaque monkeys, deer, and numerous bird species. So keep your eyes peeled, as you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of these fascinating creatures during your hike.


Hiking in Yakushima is an opportunity to reconnect with nature at its purest form. The island’s remote location and limited development have preserved its pristine landscapes, making it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts seeking an escape from the modern world.


Experience the serenity and wonder of Yakushima Island as you immerse yourself in its ancient forests, marvel at its towering trees, and revel in the untamed beauty that has captivated visitors for centuries.



Nestled in the heart of the Northern Japanese Alps, Kamikochi is a picturesque valley renowned for its breathtaking beauty and pristine natural surroundings. Situated within the Chubu Sangaku National Park, this idyllic destination offers hikers a tranquil escape into the mountains.


The Kamikochi area is known for its crystal-clear rivers, towering peaks, and vibrant alpine meadows. As you hike along the well-maintained trails, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of majestic mountains such as Mt. Hotaka and Mt. Yakedake, which are reflected in the mirror-like waters of the Azusa River.


One of the most popular hiking routes in Kamikochi is the Taisho Pond Trail. This easy, family-friendly trail takes you through lush forests and leads to Taisho Pond, a serene and picturesque body of water that formed after a volcanic eruption in 1915. The reflection of the surrounding mountains in the pond’s tranquil surface is a sight to behold.


For more experienced hikers, the ascent to the peak of Mt. Yake is a worthwhile challenge. Although it requires a bit of climbing, the reward is panoramic views of the entire Kamikochi valley and the surrounding peaks.


Throughout the hiking trails, you’ll encounter a variety of flora and fauna that thrive in the alpine environment. Keep an eye out for native Japanese macaques, known as snow monkeys, as well as vibrant alpine flowers that paint the meadows with their brilliant colors during the spring and summer months.


When visiting Kamikochi, be sure to stay in one of the charming lodges or ryokans that dot the area. Immerse yourself in the warm hospitality of the locals and savor delicious regional cuisine after a long day of hiking.


With its serene landscapes, pristine nature, and stunning vistas, Kamikochi truly embodies the essence of Japan’s mountainous beauty. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a nature lover seeking tranquility, this enchanting valley will captivate your heart and leave you with memories to last a lifetime.


Shiretoko National Park

Located in the northeastern part of Hokkaido, Shiretoko National Park is a true wilderness sanctuary that offers hikers a chance to explore one of Japan’s most remote and untouched natural environments. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this pristine park is renowned for its rugged coastline, dense forests, and abundant wildlife.


The park’s star attraction is the Shiretoko Five Lakes, a series of crystal-clear, turquoise-colored lakes surrounded by dense forest. Hiking along the well-marked trails that wind their way around the lakes allows visitors to immerse themselves in the park’s natural beauty and encounter stunning views at every turn.


For the more adventurous hikers, the Shiretoko Nature Trail provides a challenging trek through primeval forest and offers breathtaking vistas of the peninsula. As you navigate these lush trails, keep an eye out for the park’s iconic symbol, the brown bear, as well as deer, foxes, and various bird species.


One of the highlights of visiting Shiretoko National Park is taking a boat tour along the park’s coastline. These guided tours offer the opportunity to witness the majestic cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and magnificent sea eagles that call this area home. From the boat, you may also catch a glimpse of seals, sea lions, and whales if you’re lucky.


Due to its remote location and preservation efforts, Shiretoko National Park remains relatively untouched by human development, allowing its flora and fauna to thrive undisturbed. The park is a haven for biodiversity, and its ecosystems are carefully protected to ensure the continued existence of its unique wildlife.


Before visiting Shiretoko National Park, it’s essential to prepare for the rugged conditions and unpredictable weather. Hiking in this pristine wilderness requires the utmost respect for nature and wildlife, so be sure to follow the park’s guidelines and restrictions to help preserve this precious ecosystem.


Embark on a journey of awe and exploration in Shiretoko National Park, where unspoiled landscapes, dramatic coastlines, and incredible biodiversity come together to create an unforgettable hiking experience in the heart of Hokkaido.


Daisetsuzan National Park

Daisetsuzan National Park, located in the heart of Hokkaido, is a vast wilderness area renowned for its awe-inspiring landscapes, majestic peaks, and abundant wildlife. Spanning over 2,267 square kilometers (875 square miles), it is the largest national park in Japan and offers hikers a true immersion into the untouched beauty of nature.


The park is dominated by a volcanic range that includes Mount Asahi, the highest peak in Hokkaido. Hiking in Daisetsuzan allows adventurers to explore its rugged trails, sprawling alpine meadows, and pristine lakes. The park’s diverse terrain offers a range of hiking options, from gentle walks to challenging ascents.


One of the most popular hiking routes is the Asahidake trail, which leads to the summit of Mount Asahi. This challenging hike rewards hikers with panoramic views of the surrounding peaks and the opportunity to soak in natural hot springs, known as onsen, at the base of the mountain.


For those seeking a more leisurely hike, the Sounkyo Gorge trail provides a picturesque walk through a stunning canyon, with towering cliffs and cascading waterfalls. The trail is especially captivating during autumn when the vibrant colors of the foliage paint the landscape in shades of red, gold, and orange.


Daisetsuzan National Park is also home to diverse wildlife, including brown bears, foxes, deer, and numerous bird species. Though encounters with these animals are rare, it’s important to take precautions and follow the park’s guidelines to ensure both visitor safety and the preservation of the park’s ecosystem.


During the winter months, Daisetsuzan transforms into a winter wonderland, enticing snowshoers and backcountry skiers to explore its frozen landscapes. Adventurers can experience the tranquility of the park during this magical season and marvel at the snow-clad peaks and frozen waterfalls.


With its untouched beauty, rugged trails, and abundant wildlife, Daisetsuzan National Park is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. It offers a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and immerse oneself in the serene and pristine landscapes of Hokkaido.


Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is a spectacular mountain passage that traverses the Northern Japanese Alps, offering hikers a breathtaking journey through some of Japan’s most awe-inspiring landscapes. This iconic route, known as the “Roof of Japan,” is a testament to human engineering and provides access to stunning alpine vistas and remarkable natural wonders.


The route begins at Tateyama Station and extends to Ogizawa Station, totaling 90 kilometers (56 miles) in length. Throughout the journey, travelers can experience various modes of transportation, including buses, a cable car, a ropeway, and even a tunnel trolley bus.


One of the highlights of the Alpine Route is the Tateyama-Kurobe Cable Car, which takes passengers up an incline of over 45 degrees, offering a thrilling ascent while providing panoramic views of the surrounding peaks and valleys.


At the Murodo Plateau, located at an elevation of 2,450 meters (8,038 feet), hikers can explore the Alpine Route’s highest point. The area is adorned with stunning landscapes, including the majestic Mount Tateyama, Japan’s third-highest peak.


For those seeking adventure, the Tateyama Snow Wall is a must-see attraction. Located near the summit, it features towering walls of snow that can reach up to 20 meters (66 feet) in height. Visitors can walk along a specially designed path that allows them to take in the awe-inspiring beauty of the snow walls up close.


Throughout the Alpine Route, there are numerous hiking trails that cater to a range of abilities and preferences. From leisurely strolls to challenging ascents, hikers can explore the alpine landscapes, lush forests, and serene lakes that dot the route.


The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is not only a feast for the eyes but also a culinary delight. The route is famous for its local delicacies, including the renowned Toyama black ramen and fresh mountain vegetables, which can be enjoyed at various rest stops along the way.


Whether you traverse the entire route or choose to explore specific sections, the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route guarantees an unforgettable adventure and a deep appreciation for the grandeur of nature. It offers a unique blend of epic mountain vistas, engineering marvels, and the serenity that can only be found in the alpine wilderness.


Kirishima-Yaku National Park

Kirishima-Yaku National Park, located in Kyushu, is a hidden gem for nature enthusiasts and hikers alike. This expansive park is home to a mesmerizing blend of volcanic landscapes, ancient forests, and sacred mountains, offering a unique and diverse hiking experience.


The park is named after its two main areas: Kirishima, which encompasses the volcanic mountain range, and Yaku, which includes the remote island of Yaku-shima. Both areas are rich in natural beauty and cultural heritage.


Kirishima is a volcanic wonderland, boasting a chain of magnificent volcanic peaks. Hikers can explore trails that wind their way through craters, steam vents, and lava fields. One of the most iconic hiking routes is the Takachiho-gawara Trail, which takes you to the summit of Mount Karakuni, providing panoramic views of the surrounding volcanic peaks.


In Yaku-shima, pristine forests cover much of the island, creating an enchanting atmosphere. The island is home to the ancient Yakusugi cedar trees, some of which are estimated to be over 1,000 years old. The Jomon Sugi Trail is a popular hiking route that leads to one of these majestic trees, offering hikers a chance to witness the beauty and resilience of these ancient giants.


For those seeking a more challenging hike, the Kirishima Traverse is a multi-day trek that encompasses the highlights of the Kirishima mountain range. This route takes you through diverse landscapes, including volcanic peaks, lush forests, and peaceful crater lakes.


Exploring the Kirishima-Yaku National Park is not only a journey through stunning natural landscapes but also an immersion into Japanese mythology and culture. The area is considered sacred, with several important shrines and temples dotting the park, including the tranquil Kirishima Shrine and the mystical Yaku Shrine.


Throughout the park, hikers can also enjoy soothing hot springs, known as onsen, which provide the perfect opportunity to relax and rejuvenate after a day of hiking through this remarkable natural wonderland.


Kirishima-Yaku National Park offers a captivating blend of volcanic wonders, ancient forests, and spiritual sites. Whether you’re seeking adventure, tranquility, or cultural exploration, this park has it all, inviting you to embark on an unforgettable journey through Japan’s rich natural and mystical heritage.



Japan is a hiker’s paradise, offering an array of breathtaking landscapes, ancient trails, and iconic peaks to explore. From the majestic heights of Mount Fuji to the tranquil beauty of Yakushima Island, each hiking destination in Japan has its own unique charm and allure.


Embarking on a hiking adventure in Japan allows you to experience the country’s deep connection to nature and immerse yourself in its rich cultural heritage. The trails not only showcase the country’s stunning natural beauty but also lead you to historical landmarks, spiritual sites, and encounters with wildlife.


Whether you choose to hike the ancient pilgrimage routes of Kumano Kodo or challenge yourself on the rugged terrain of Shiretoko National Park, each step brings you closer to the wonders that await you in the Land of the Rising Sun.


As you explore these diverse hiking destinations, remember to respect the environment and follow the guidelines set in place to preserve the natural beauty of each area. Leave no trace, embrace the tranquility, and take home memories that will last a lifetime.


So lace up your boots, pack your backpack, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through Japan’s captivating landscapes. Discover the hidden gems, connect with nature, and find solace and inspiration along the remarkable trails that traverse this remarkable country.