Why Hiking & Trekking in Japan?
Nearly two-thirds of Japan’s land area is mountainous, making its islands a paradise for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Mountains run the length of the country, from ranges just a few hundred meters above sea level to sacred, sky-high peaks soaring thousands of meters above the clouds, which means there’s something for visitors of all levels of fitness and experience. Many of the country’s iconic peaks can be found throughout its 34 national parks, some of which are only a stone’s throw away from major urban areas.
The Many Charms of Japan's Mountains
As the seasons change, so does the scenery on the slopes and in the foothills. Throughout the year you can watch the landscape transform, from the new greenery and cherry blossoms of spring to the lush verdure and alpine plants of summer, through the vivid hues of autumn, to snow-covered summits in winter. These landscapes are inhabited by a variety of wildlife, including rare endemic species not seen elsewhere.
In addition to its beauty, seasonal plant life plays an important role in Japanese cuisine, which utilizes edible plants and vegetables harvested from the foothills.
Mountain Culture Rooted in History
Exploring Japan's mountains is more than just a physical activity. Shrines and temples can be found on many hiking routes, and many mountains—such as the iconic Mt. Fuji—are considered sacred, having been worshipped since ancient times. Visiting can be seen as a sort of pilgrimage, a way to engage with Japan’s time-honored traditions through nature.
Sightseeing Opportunities Beyond the Peaks
Japan is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire and is home to many volcanic peaks both dormant and active. As a by-product of the volcanic activity boiling just beneath the surface, there are also natural hot springs (called onsen in Japanese) in most mountainous areas.
There is no better way to rest and recuperate after a hike than by soaking away your aches and fatigue in a hot, relaxing bath.
You can also enjoy Japan's legendary food culture, which utilizes a variety of seasonal ingredients harvested from forests and mountains.