While Japan is known for its hospitality, culture, and food, it certainly has no shortage of natural wonders! A haven for outdoor sports enthusiasts, not only is Japan great for skiing due to its towering peaks and snow-capped summits, but from April to October you’ll find no shortage of trails for the ultimate hiking experience – and it’ll be unlike one you’d find anywhere else!
From casual day treks to multi-day, difficult climbs, Japan is where you’ll find it all – there are options to suit any itinerary, preference, or fitness level. And its one of the best ways to discover Japan’s natural beauty.
Imagine transporting yourself to the Edo period and tracing the steps of the shogunate, samurai, merchants and messengers by hiking the Nakasendo trail. Or following the ancient pilgrimage routes of the Kumano Kodo Trail. Or for a mountaineering experience, nothing beats beautiful Kamikochi. It’s all possible when hiking in Japan!
The wonders you can expect to see on a Japanese hike include waterfalls and steaming geysers, crystal clear rivers, bamboo groves, fields of colourful flowers, terraced rice paddies, tea houses, incredible temples and shrines, and breathtaking views at every turn. Many hold such rare beauties that they are protected by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.
One of my personal favourite hiking trails in Japan is the Kumano Kodo trail. For over a thousand years, people from all levels of society including retired emperors and aristocrats have made the arduous pilgrimage to Kumano. These pilgrims used a network of routes which stretched across the mountainous Kii Peninsula. The walk itself was an integral part of the pilgrimage process as they undertook rigorous religious rites of worship and purification. The Kumano Kodo trail also leads to Nachi Falls – an awe-inspiring 133m drop, and Japan’s largest vertical drop waterfall. The falls are worshipped as the home of Shinto deity. Every second of listening to the sound of the thundering ton of water barrelling down gives even non-believers a spiritual experience.
A Japanese hiking experience offers:
- An extensive mountain hut network for rest and accommodation with pristine amenities.
- Hiking through exquisitely preserved villages for a truly authentic Japanese experience.
- Vending machines! It’s a good idea to have some cash with you to use in the unexpectedly well-placed machines. They usually have snacks and drinks, so you are never left without, no matter how long the hike.
- Lots of rest stops in traditional-style houses, where you will experience authentic Japanese tea served by traditionally dressed staff. You won’t get this experience anywhere else in the world!
- Along with your hike, you will also have a magnificent cultural experience. Many hikes will feature shrines and temples along the way. Combining beautiful landscapes with locations of historic significance allows you a chance to connect with the ancient culture of Japan.
- Luxury accommodation in traditional ryokans, so you feel like a VIP after your hike.
While your Japanese hike should be undertaken with careful planning, it’s a wondrous experience that comes highly recommended! Plan Japan experiences include tried and tested itineraries, taking away any unknown in your preparation and visit. You’ll have nothing to worry about except enjoying your incredible hike. We’ll also take the guesswork out of ordering your food, so you’ll always get incredibly delicious meals and snacks without having to worry about what’s in them. Contact us for more information.