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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Sub-zero temperatures and the greatest of outdoor environments, complemented by sizzling soul food and warm-hearted welcomes. Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Sleek apple-red and electric-green shinkansen whisk you up to a haven of fresh powder snow, fresh fruit and fearsome folk legends Fearsome festivals, fresh powder and vast fruit orchards—the rugged northern territory of Tohoku offers a fresh perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
Mountains and sea meet in one of Japan's wildest regions, and the result is sheer beauty. Once largely inaccessible, Hokuriku is now reachable by shinkansen from Tokyo in a matter of hours An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Characterized by the constant buzz of the world's most populous metropolitan area, the Kanto region is surprisingly green with an array of escapes that include mountainous getaways and subtropical islands Experience diversity at its fullest, from the neon of Tokyo to the ski slopes of Gunma, exotic wildlife of the Ogasawara Islands and cultural heritage of Kamakura
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Served by the shinkansen line that connects Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, the Tokai region provides plenty of interesting diversions and easy excursions Tokai means "eastern sea," and this region stretches east from Tokyo to Kyoto and includes blockbuster attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
From raucous nights out to outdoor thrills to peaceful reverie, trying to categorize the Kansai region is a futile task The Kansai region is one of extreme contrasts—the neon lights of Osaka and glittering Kobe nightscape, the peaceful realms of Shiga, Wakayama and Nara, and the cultured refinement of Kyoto
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Less-traveled and delightfully inaccessible at times, the Chugoku region is a reminder that the journey is sometimes more important than the destination Welcome to Japan's warm and friendly western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Providing the stage for literary classics, fevered dancing and natural wonders Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
Easily reached by land, sea and air, the dynamic Kyushu prefectures are bubbling with energy, culture and activity The southern island of Kyushu is home to volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky, succulent seafood, steaming hot springs and the country's hottest entrepreneurial town
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Ruins and recreated castles of the Ryukyu kings nestle amid magnificent beaches in Okinawa, a diver's paradise teeming with an amazing array of coral and undersea life Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

Nature

Yatsugatake Mountains 八ヶ岳連峰

Trek deep into one of Japan's greatest wildernesses

The Yatsugatake Mountains are one of Nagano's most popular hiking and trekking destinations. Located on the border of Nagano and Yamanashi prefectures and with the fascinating Suwa region at its doorstep, these mountains provide a great opportunity to venture deep into nature in upland Japan.

There are many routes up Mt. Yatsugatake and the other peaks in the range, and you've also got a choice of day and multiday options. If you're into onsen, you'll probably want to hike up to Honzawa Onsen for a mountain high soak. Along the way, you may even come across some of the creatures that inhabit these mountains.

Don't Miss

  • Hiking the rolling Kirigamine Highland
  • Spotting Japanese wildlife in Yatsugatake's forests
  • Japan's highest outdoor bath, Honzawa Onsen

How to Get There

You can reach the Yatsugatake Mountains most easily from Chino Station in the Suwa region.

From Shinjuku catch the JR Azusa Chuo Line-Limited Express for Matsumoto and get off at Chino Station. From there buses run to various Yatsugatake trailheads, Lake Shirakaba, and the Kirigamine Highlands. While occasional buses connect certain sites in the foothills, a rental car expands the possibility for exploration.

Mt. Fuji’s biggest rival

Mt. Yatsugatake is the one peak in Japan that rivals Mt. Fuji. Legend has it that the haughty Yatsugatake range caught the ire of upstart Mt. Fuji, which knocked the former down to its current size.

While Fuji may top Yatsugatake in height, in terms of stunning alpine landscapes and sheer number of trekking options available, the Yatsugatake Mountains reign supreme.

Scaling the peaks

Yatsugatake can roughly be divided into two areas: the northern stretch of the range is not as high, with lots of easier hikes, while the southern section has dense forest, rugged peaks and offers true alpine trekking.

Check out the fuzzy locals

The area is home to some fascinating wildlife including flying squirrels, deer, Japanese serows, raccoon dogs, foxes and the occasional bear. The explosion of alpine flowers in summertime draws camera-toting trekkers from across the nation and beyond.

Trekking the long and winding trails

A staggering number of trails wind their way through the Yatsugatake Mountains, offering everything from short walks to multiday alpine excursions. At 2,646 meters, Mt. Tengu makes for a perfect day hike.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try the two-day, overnight loop that traverses Yatsugatake's main southern ridge, including Mt. Io, Mt. Yoko, and Mt. Aka.

It's all part of the experience

Staying overnight at a Japanese mountain lodge is a memorable experience. There are over 30 lodges located across the range, each with its own personality and range of facilities. Some aspects are standard, though. As at a traditional Japanese inn, everyone eats together in the dining room.

Communal accommodations are the rule

The sleeping arrangements are communal as well; most often, you end up sleeping Japanese style, side by side on futon, on traditional tatami flooring. Usually everyone is up at the crack of dawn for breakfast and an early start on the trail. Take a nap after breakfast and head out later if you don't fancy hiking with the masses.

Soak your cares away

There are plenty of onsen in the area. For the energetic and adventurous, hiking to Honzawa Onsen—set halfway up Mt. Tengu—will reward you with a relaxing session in Japan’s highest outdoor bath.

Vacation wonderland in the foothills

The plateau between Kirigamine and Yatsugatake's Mt. Tateshina is very popular in the summertime. The artificial Lake Shirakaba and its nearby theme park are prime destinations for families and couples escaping the Tokyo summer heat.

More to explore

If you’re on the hunt for something else to round out your day, there are a number of museums and galleries in the area. The quirky Tateshina Teddy Bear Museum has a monumental collection of stuffed denizens; the Yatsugatake Museum of Art displays work by local artists and craftspeople changing with the seasons; and Chino's historic Togariishi Museum of Jomon Archaeology houses priceless artifacts dating back to the Suwa region’s earliest pre-historic inhabitants.

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