With incredible mountainous and volcano-studded landscapes, hiking through Japan is one of the best ways to explore the nation’s beautiful countryside.
While often overlooked by visitors to the country, Japan’s volcanic archipelago and stupendous mountain scenery make for some fantastic trekking and the breathtaking array of sights on show will astound both nature lovers and outdoor aficionados alike.
Weaving their way through gorgeous nature and picturesque landscapes, the trails take you past amazing ancient temples, revered shrines and awe-inspiring castles while futuristic cities such as Tokyo are never far away.
With so many trails and paths for you to choose from, let’s take a look at nine of Japan’s most epic treks!
1. Kumano Kodo
One of the most popular and indeed famous trails in the whole of the country, the Kumano Kodo is a delight to explore as you’re surrounded by history, culture and nature on all sides.
The ancient pilgrimage route takes you through some lovely mountains and woodlands to the three Shinto shrines of Kumano Sanzan which rise up majestically before you from amidst the trees.
2. Shiretoko National Park
Nestled away at the end of a peninsula in eastern Hokkaido, Shiretoko National Park is blessed with a wide range of beautiful scenery which is untouched and unspoiled due to its remote location.
With lots of great hiking trails and paths for you to choose from, this magnificent national park really is a nature lover’s dream and highlights include the sparkling Furepe Waterfall, the Shiretoko Five Lakes and the towering Mount Rausu which hardy adventurers can attempt to summit.
3. Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage
Snaking its way along the scenic coastline of the island of Shikoku, this wonderful trail remarkably takes you past a whopping eighty-eight temples! As the trail stretches for over 740 miles, many people take decades to complete it, returning time and time again to visit different temples and enjoy the pristine scenery all around them.
4. Mount Hiei
Home to the incredible Enryakuji Temple complex which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mount Hiei’s summit can be reached in just fifteen minutes by cable car…although it is much more rewarding to hike up there yourself!
Taking you through some lovely ancient forests, the narrow path is particularly worthwhile hiking in autumn when the foliage turns a myriad of reds, yellows and oranges. With such wonderful scenery on show and the fascinating temples at the top, the trek offers the perfect combination of history, nature and culture.
5. Nakasendo Way
As it takes you through some absolutely lovely mountain scenery with forests and streams punctuating their slopes, it is no wonder that Nakasendo Way is one of the most popular trekking routes in the country.
Lined with charming post-towns that have traditional ryokan and onsen for you to stay in, the trail runs from Kyoto to Tokyo and is a well-worn route as people have been hiking along it for centuries.
6. Basho Tour7. Daisetsuzan National Park
Meaning ‘Great Snowy Mountains’, Daisetsuzan National Park’s name couldn’t be more appropriate and this is what makes it such a great place to head to if you want to enjoy gorgeous snowy mountain landscapes all around you. With volcanic peaks, glistening lakes and endless forests scattered here and there, Japan’s largest national park is a wonderful place to go trekking – just watch out for its brown bears!
With the majestic peaks of both Mount Yarigatake and Mount Okuhotaka-dake for you to summit, it’s fair to say that this trek isn’t for the light-hearted! Winding its way through the scenic Northern Japan Alps, the Kamikochi-Yari-Hotaka trail sees you scrabbling up steep mountainsides as hair-raising drops lie to either side of you. While it will certainly set your heart racing, it is definitely well worth the effort as the views and panoramas on offer are simply astounding.
9. Mount Fuji
While not exactly a trek per se, the iconic Mount Fuji is undoubtedly the most popular attraction in Japan amongst hikers and scaling the snow-capped volcano and watching dawn peak over the horizon really is an experience like no other.
With numerous paths snaking their way up the side of the volcano and glorious views wherever you look, hiking up Mount Fuji is really not be missed out on and the UNESCO World Heritage Site is an important symbol of Japan.