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Japan

Hiking in Japan

Hiking

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Photo: hans-johnson (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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Walks in Japan have so much incredible beauty to offer that you’ll never want them to end. This extraordinary archipelagic nation has gloriously varied landscapes, from the staggering snow-capped mountains to exquisite subtropical forests and everything in between. 

It doesn’t matter what your ability experience or ability is, you’ll always be able to find trails in Japan that suit you down to the ground, whether they’re steep, forested treks or relaxing countryside strolls. With loop routes to see breathtaking temples and evergreen valleys, hikes in Japan cannot fail to enchant.

Multi-day treks are plentiful across the country and when you prepare well, you’ll explore phenomenal places, each day bringing you into new scenery. From mountainous Hokkaido in the north to the stunning Ryukyu islands in the south, hiking in Japan is like nowhere else.


Top 20 best walks and hikes in Japan

    Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors
    1
    1
    Easy
    01:21
    2.64 mi
    1.9 mph
    575 ft
    575 ft
    Easy hike. Great for any fitness level. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    2
    Intermediate
    02:44
    4.51 mi
    1.6 mph
    1,600 ft
    1,600 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
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  • 3
    Intermediate
    02:22
    4.43 mi
    1.9 mph
    1,150 ft
    1,150 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    4
    Difficult
    06:46
    6.98 mi
    1.0 mph
    3,075 ft
    3,075 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.
    View
    5
    Intermediate
    02:48
    4.67 mi
    1.7 mph
    1,600 ft
    1,600 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    6
    Intermediate
    02:44
    6.39 mi
    2.3 mph
    325 ft
    325 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    7
    Intermediate
    04:48
    9.71 mi
    2.0 mph
    1,900 ft
    1,900 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    8
    Intermediate
    03:06
    5.25 mi
    1.7 mph
    1,675 ft
    1,675 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    9
    Intermediate
    02:22
    5.60 mi
    2.4 mph
    225 ft
    225 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    10
    Intermediate
    02:41
    6.32 mi
    2.4 mph
    300 ft
    300 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    11
    Intermediate
    02:58
    6.38 mi
    2.1 mph
    800 ft
    800 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    12
    Intermediate
    03:51
    5.07 mi
    1.3 mph
    2,875 ft
    2,875 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    13
    Difficult
    05:42
    10.3 mi
    1.8 mph
    2,750 ft
    2,750 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.
    View
    14
    Easy
    01:37
    3.39 mi
    2.1 mph
    500 ft
    500 ft
    Easy hike. Great for any fitness level. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    15
    Easy
    01:19
    2.76 mi
    2.1 mph
    425 ft
    425 ft
    Easy hike. Great for any fitness level. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    16
    Difficult
    05:41
    7.00 mi
    1.2 mph
    4,475 ft
    4,475 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.
    View
    17
    Intermediate
    02:45
    6.35 mi
    2.3 mph
    400 ft
    400 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    18
    Intermediate
    02:07
    3.56 mi
    1.7 mph
    1,250 ft
    1,250 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    19
    Intermediate
    02:08
    5.05 mi
    2.4 mph
    225 ft
    250 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    20
    Difficult
    05:09
    9.05 mi
    1.8 mph
    2,775 ft
    2,775 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View

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Exploring Japan’s phenomenal forests

You’re sure to find many of the best hiking trails in Japan deep within its extraordinary forests. Why? Because this wonderful country has around 70% forest cover. With plenty of rain, heat and varying altitudes, Japan is not just rich in healthy forests but it also has several distinct types. 

In the north of the chain, Hokkaido has abundant coniferous forests in the mountainous regions and stunning deciduous oak forests in the south. In Honshu, lush, deciduous and broadleaf evergreen forests run rampant and trails here are wondrous. 

Japan is also home to sacred forests, where you can find shrines and temples set amongst stunning green backdrops of cedar and cypress. At these cherished sites, you’ll learn about Japanese culture and heritage too.

Nature watching 

On hikes in Japan, the astounding sights aren’t limited to the blissful forests, this nation has more wildlife than you could imagine. With such fantastic habitats and sparsely populated across much of the wildernesses, animals are in heaven here. 

Ever heard of tanuki? These furry animals are a type of racoon dog and live throughout the country. If you hike enough, you may well see them but you’ll definitely see statues of them in front of temples as they’re said to bring good luck. 

Black bears thrive in the mountainous areas of Japan. Bear bells and spray are useful to have if you go hiking in these beautiful places as they’ll keep any bears away. Seeing bears from a distance is a breathtaking experience though. Sika deer are also abundant throughout Japan, mostly famously in Nara Park where they’re extremely tame. 

Islands and mountains

Aside from its forests, walks in Japan are inherently linked to the country’s exquisite mountainous landscape. In fact, you can hike in forested mountains, perfectly merging the two dominant landscapes. 

Both of the main islands have significant mountainous landscape as well as some of the small islands, like the magical Yakushima. Japan’s mountain trails range from expert multi-day treks requiring serious preparation and athletic ability to gentler hikes in lower ranges. Some of the mountains here are volcanoes, which means you can see perfect conical shapes, a good example being Mt. Fuji. 

With 34 national parks, you can trek through the most incredible protected landscape in the world. Wherever you choose to hike in Japan, you won’t get more than ten steps without realising you’re in love with the country. 

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