About this site

DSC02370 2My name is Wes Lang and I’m the founder of Hiking in Japan. I created this website when I was climbing the Hyakumeizan. During my quest, I had gathered a wealth of knowledge and since there was very little information in English on Japan’s mountains, I decided to share my findings with you.

This website is complete ad-free, and all expenses for website hosting come out of pocket. If you have found any of this information helpful, then please consider buying me a coffee as a way of thanks.

Please comment on any of the hikes and leave details about your experience. Trail conditions change, and offering tips to future hikers will ensure that the information stays relevant. Feel free to post questions and answer each other’s questions.

I have been overwhelmed with e-mail messages requesting hiking advice/suggestions. I regret that due to time constraints, I am not available to answer all inquiries. Most of my advice is contained inside my guidebook anyway, so by purchasing a copy you can have most of your questions answered.

If you’re looking for comprehensive travel advice/planning then please request me through Japan Travel Consultants. I will be more than happy to create personalized hiking and trekking itineraries to meet your needs, and can also do video conferencing to help plan your trip to Japan.

In addition, I am a freelance writer, so please get in touch if you’re looking for outdoor/travel pieces about Japan.

169 Comments on “About this site”

  1. kazuhiko watanabe Says:

    hello, I’m Kazuhiko ,Japanese.
    I read your webysite for the first time and got interested a lot in your morivation for running the website.
    I’m doing a reseach project for the graduetion research class at I-NAC College in Niigata. I’m trying to find out foreigner’s knowledge and intersts in trekking in Japan.
    Trekking and outdooractivities are popular in countries such as U.S.A.,New Zealand and Canada. However ,we rarely see people from those countries in tekking and ontdoor activity locations around Japan.
    I would be greatful if you reply to my question If you don’t mind I will attatch a questinnaire and e-mail you again . I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    • Sigrid Ringström Says:

      Hello Kazuhiko and others.
      We are to people from Denamrk who is going to Japan in october. We have searched the internet for information, but there is very little. We would LOVE to go trekking, but the only company we found, walkjapan.com, cost 148.000 yen for a 4 day trip, and that is too much, its the same as the price to go to Japan from Denmark.
      Our interest in trekking in Japan is big, but we cant seem to find anything thats not too expensive. Do you know of anything? The trek we found with walkjapan.com sounds so interesting and beatiful.
      Write back if you want to know more or have any good advice:)
      Sigrid – fruringstrom@gmail.com

      • wes Says:


        You could try Japan Adventures. They do treks mostly in Hokkaido, but they also have a guide in Tokyo. Not sure what they have planned for the autumn.


    • Denis Says:

      Hi Kazuhiko – I am from Sydeny and i have never visited Japan but am planning to do so in 2017. I love hiking and trekking and wanting to do the Kumano Trek. Yes I love to help you and answer your questionaire. Please send to dev8877n@gmail.com. Thanks Denis

  2. Chris Says:

    Thanks for the website, I was really beginning to lose hope of getting out of the way in Japan, as most websites seem to consider the “Philosopher’s Walk” in Kyoto as a daytrip. Coming from Australia we really don’t have any problems with animals that might do you harm in the bush, or at least Mammals that might do you harm, so I was wondering if you could post up some info on how to deal with bears if you see them. I’m not particularly concerned but it’s always good to know what you are supposed to do in these situations.

    Thanks again for the website, Chris

    • Gregory Says:

      There’s a good article in Outdoor Japan magazine (there’s a link on the RHS of this page) about a black bear encounter in Honshu. Hokkaido’s brown bears are another story entirely…they can be massive, but tend to try to avoid humans. As always, common sense prevails.

      • wesu Says:

        Thanks for mentioning the black bear encounters. I agree that common sense does prevail, but I also feel that the Japanese media blows things way out of proportion. A significantly higher number of hikers fall to their deaths than die from bear encounters, but it’s the latter that gets so much attention. Black bears are a threatened species and I have not doubt in my mind that they’ll be extinct during my generation due to government sanctioned killing.

    • Helmut Ploberger Says:

      Hello Chris,

      My name is Helmut,I am from Austria\Europe. I was yesterday in the japanese mountains, and I am interested on this informations about the black bear too.

      If possible, please send me the informations



  3. EWan Says:


    Just a note to say thanks for putting in the effort – not only the walking but the writing. Am planning a trip for a walk in late October from Melbourne. I’ve been up to Takayama in the winter before and thought that I might take tent etc. and get up onto the ridge around Mt Washiba. I have a question though – do you think this is too late in the season (25th Oct.)? I wanted to stay out for about 5 days – I will be walking alone, and am prepared – but not experienced in snow. Most long walks done in Tasmania etc. Anyway – any hot tips would be appreciated – cheers. Ewan.

  4. wesu Says:

    hi Ewan. Thanks for the kind words. Sorry it’s taken me a while to respond. There will definitely be snow in the Kita Alps in late October, so you’ll need some crampons and maybe an ice axe.

    Trekking in the snow isn’t all that difficult, but you definitely have to be aware of the weather and you’ll need a compass. In sunny weather it’s no problem, but in fog/white out conditions it can be deadly.

    One alternative would be to climb Yake-dake, which is accessible from Shin-hotaka hot spring. You could climb that to gauge the amount of snow on the upper peaks. Or, you could try trekking on a different mountain range (i.e. something a little lower in altitude).

    Let me know if you have more questions


  5. chi Says:

    hi Wes, thanks for an awesome website! i’m japanese but grew up mainly overseas (UK and US) and have family in Japan and visit every year, and being an avid hiker/backpacker i’ve always been frustrated that there isn’t more info out there on hiking in Japan. last time i went on the Hakuba Goryu trail which was great but now i have tons of options! great job on a fantastic website and keep the info coming!

  6. Christian Says:


    Beeing an enthusiastic hiker from Germany I´m planning two days of hiking during a short business trip to Japan this summer. There are a lot of hikes on this homepage with good descriptions that I would love to hike, but unforunately there is no map and I`m complete lost without one.
    Couldn`t you please add a tiny map with the hiking spot marked on it to each reagion/category ?
    This would be very helpfull for somebody who has never been to Japan before.
    Thank you!

  7. Michele Says:

    Just writing to say this is a really great site! I’ve noticed the sad lack of english information in regards to walking and hiking in japan, and this will certainly come in handy. The only thing I would recommend is including maps, but I know they can be super hard to find regardless.
    If I want to contribute to this site do you have contact info?

  8. wesu Says:


    Thanks for the comment. You’re not the first person to mention maps! The main problem is copyright issues, so I’m in the process of creating my own maps for all of the mountains, which will take a few years to complete.

    If you’d like to contribute to the site, then I’d be more than happy to accept your offer. Contact me at wescamus@gmail.com for more information. Unfortunately I won’t be able to offer any monetary compensation, but I will cite you as an author for anything you contribute.


  9. NIGEL Says:

    Wes, Great website.

    Hoping to head out into the mountains for a day trip this weekend from Tokyo. Do you have any suggestions for somewhere that will be nice and green with vast views and no touristy temples/shops?


  10. wesu Says:

    Hi Nigel. Thanks for the comment. I’m based in Osaka, so it’s difficult to give you good advice about hikes in the Kanto area. I’ve heard Mt. Myogi is supposed to be pretty spectacular (and hair-raising with all its chains). If you’re looking for nice views of Mt. Fuji, then you could consider heading to the Hakone area.
    I’m not exactly sure which areas will be green yet – the higher in elevation you go, the browner it gets.

    You might want to consider checking the forums at Outdoor Japan and posting a question there.


    Let me know if you have any other questions.


  11. Ben Says:

    I really love this website. It’s definitely the best resource on the net for hiking in Japan for us English speakers. That you include the Japanese is especially helpful. I am wondering though if you have any trail maps that you could possibly post online. They are surprisingly difficult to come by. In particular, I’m looking for kita alps trail maps.

  12. wesu Says:


    I’m in the process of creating trail maps for all of the hikes. Unfortunately it’s a long, slow process that could take years. I have, in the meantime, starting providing links to online maps where applicable.

    If you’re living in Japan, then you can pick up trail maps at any major bookstore nationwide. There’s a series called Yama-to-kogen (山と高原地図), which includes detailed trail maps for all major peaks in Japan. These are the ones I use when I go hiking. Unfortunately, they’re a bit pricey at 800yen each, but they are incredibly resilient and waterproof.

  13. Csabanese Says:

    Hi Wes,

    I plan to hike this summer a lot in niigata and seen your page. Great!

    i have seen comments about the lack of maps. why dont you try to link your reports with the website making thevery useful mountain map series for japan hikes? here is the link:

  14. wesu Says:


    Thanks for the suggestion. I’d actually known about the yamachizu site, and was debating on whether or not to add links to those maps.

    In the end, I have decided to link to those maps, and will be adding all of the links in the coming weeks. The yamachizu maps are good, but unfortunately you’re not able to click on the maps for a larger image, which might be disappointing to some who’d like to print them out and use them.

    In the long run, I’d like to create my own maps, which will take some time to do.

  15. Jill Says:

    I have a trip booked for the end of the month (April 25th – yikes) and I realize that this overlaps with Golden Week which I am worried about. Can anyone suggest a good itinerary where I can hike / travel and be able to find accomidation?

    I would love to see some of the blossoms.


  16. Paul Says:

    I’m just starting to plan a trip for some 17-18 year old lads doing Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Our initial hope is to do an Award expedition in Daisetsuzan then to head for the Alpine regions for another trek plus other activities. Any advice on how to find guides (we will bring English Moumtain Leaders), suitable activity providers and routes would be appreciated. I have some first hand knowledge of Japanese Mountains and speak limited conversational Japanese enough to cope with non English speakers to some extent!!

  17. Leigh McDowell Says:

    I’m really happy to find your blog. A recent trip to Nagano reminded me of the wonders of the outdoors and hiking mountains in Japan. Looks like you’ve got a great resource here for people like myself looking for information on how to best access those wonders. Nice work, Wes.


  18. Gregory Backpack Says:

    Hey…I just came across this site…

    Hats off to Hiroki Ishikawa and other great Japanese adventurers!

  19. Becky K. Says:

    Hi, I am hoping to do a day or two of hiking, needs to fit into 4/10/11-4/13/11. I will eventually be in Tokyo to meet friends on 4/14.
    May have a day or two 4/14-4/28, again.
    I am 60 yrs old relatively fit, but need to stay at lower elevations, do not want to be where there is any snow. I’d love to be where the Sakura are current, I would guess altitude effects that as well as latitude? I will probably be by myself.
    I wondered about doing something like Tsukuba san near Tokyo, but wonder if there is something in the Kansai area or in Nagano. Forty years ago I was on a small island in the Seto Nai Kai, where flowers were raised and it was a lovely day walk, but I don’t remember the name of it.
    Of course I’d be delighted to do day hikes based out of an onsen!
    Speak some Japanese, read a little less.
    Experienced with Japanese daily life. Do you have suggestions?


    • wes Says:


      You’ll certainly have a fair amount of options in mid-April.

      Tsukuba will definitely be snow-free in April, and even though the hike is steep in places, it’s relatively short.

      If you want cherry blossoms, however, you might want to consider Mt. Yoshino near Osaka. It’s basically an entire mountain of cherry blossoms and most of the hike is done on a surfaced road which passes some really beautiful temples. The place does get very crowded during this time, though.

      Elsewhere, you could easily spend a day wandering around the temples of Nikko north of Tokyo. Most of the hiking is centered around Lake Chuzenji, but those peaks will still be covered in a lot of snow, but the temples near the town of Nikko should be snow-free.

      Kyoto city has a couple of interesting walks as well. If you’re interested in monkeys, then a trip to Arashiyama monkey park is in order. It’s in the Arashiyama area of Kyoto, and it’s a 20-minute hike to the top of a mountain where a large pack of monkeys live. There’s a hut on top of the mountain where you can feed the monkeys. The monkey park costs 500 yen to enter, but the monkeys are wild (not confined to cages) so it’s pretty interesting.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.


  20. Chinhin Says:

    Thank you for putting together such an informative site. My buddy and I are flying into Tokyo from June 15-19 to do some hikes in the Japanese Alps and we are considering Oku-hotaka but would like to know of some alternatives in the vicinity. Do you have any recommendations? Basically our criteria are:
    1. accessible by public transportation
    2. no camping required. (we are not planning to bring a tent)
    Any advice would be much appreciated!
    Chinhin (Hong Kong)

    • wes Says:


      Oku-hotaka is a great mountain, but there also also smaller peaks in the area if you don’t want to do an overnight trip. I think a lot of it will depend on the weather. Right now it’s the rainy season in Japan, so the conditions might not be so good.

      If you make it to Kamikochi, then I recommend climbing Yake-dake. It’s an active volcano and can be done as a day trip from there (6 to 8 hours round trip). There are a lot of easier, relatively flat hikes in Kamikochi itself that you could do if the weather is bad.

      Norikura-dake is a fun peak if you want to get a taste of the Alps without all the hard work. You can take a bus up to 2700m and then hike the remaining 300 vertical meters through the snow. The views are incredible when the weather is good.

      Habuka would be another option. It’s north of Kamikochi and accessible by overnight bus or train from Tokyo. It’s a nice village to be based in, and there are lots of hikes into the alpine through the ski fields. Taking the ski lifts will help save time. Right now there’s still quite a lot of snow in the Alps, so make sure you keep this in mind when you plan.

      Let me know if you have any other questions. There are a lot of mountains in this country!


      • Chinhin Says:

        Hi Wes,
        Thank you so much for your advice. We would definitely consider Norikura-dake, if the kamikochi area turns out to be too soggy.

  21. santhosh Says:

    The blog is very interesting and very informative. I being fond of Treks, was desperately searching for hiking places. And i say, its my luck i some how got into this blog. Havent visited any place mentioned in your blog, but sure will update/comment once i visit any of them.

  22. Wow…great site! My husband and I live in Nogata-shi. We just moved to Japan from Saipan. My husband is Japanese-I’m American. We are in our early and mid 50’s, in fairly good shape, BUT have not been hiking in quite a number of years!!

    We love the out-doors and would like to go hiking as a weekend past-time. We are for all practical purposes-beginners. I’m actually the one who is pushing for this new adventure in our lives…so I’ll probably have to be the one to dig up all the info. I was wondering- do you know of any sites (in English) that would help us to get started? I went hiking YEARS ago-in America…

    Anyinfo for beginners would be appreciated (anyone else out there that has any info-I’d love to hear from you!). I really appreciate this site…been looking around for info on Japan hiking- but most is in Japanese.

    Would also like to find a hiking club in our area-Nogata-shi.

    Thanks for your hard work and effort here!

  23. ken Says:

    I am exploring the possibility of a cross-Japan (E/W) hike; hiked across Scotland a few years ago using small hotels, B&Bs and the like, and the notion of a water-to-water crossing appeals to me. I am having difficulty finding material in English regarding longer hikes of this nature. I am in the early stages, so open to suggestions/opportunities in any area North to South. Timing is likely spring to summer 2012, and I have about 2-3 weeks for the hike. Really looking for a nightly room, not tent camping.

    • wes Says:


      You have a couple of options here. If you’re looking for the mountains, then you could do a traverse all the way across the Japan Alps. The only problem would be when to go, as the mountains remain buried under meters of snow until at least late June.

      Another option would be to do part of the Tokai Nature trail, a 1200km walk from Tokyo to Osaka. You probably won’t have time to do the entire thing, but part of it might be interesting for you.

      Here is the link:

      Another option would be to do a pilgrimage route in Kansai. For example, you could walk from Yoshino to Kumano shrine via the Omine mountain range. You’d have to bring sleeping gear/food because the mountain huts are unstaffed. There’s also another pilgrimage route from Yoshino to Kumano shrine. Both of these have been included at UNESCO World Heritage sites and are surprisingly remote.

      Good luck with the planning and let me know if you have any other questions. Most of the information about these routes is in Japanese, so if you have any Japanese friends, I’m sure they can help you search for useful websites.


  24. Nadine Says:

    Hi Wes,

    We are from melbourne and although hiked around the world never attempted Japan till now. We are planning to do the kamikochi-yari-hotaka-kamikochi circuit starting oct 5th for 3 days.

    I have the Japan hiking book but still have a few questions if you don’t mind:
    – will it be very busy considering it is autumn and just before sports weekend
    – do the mountain huts only provide tatami mats for sleeping? I thought I saw bunks but in reading there was a mention of cramming together on the floor.
    – what time does the food start being served if we want to make an early start and decide not to bring food.

    Finally is there a more recommended hike of similar duration than this one for this time of year?

    Thanks heaps! Nadine

    • wes Says:


      I’ll reply to your questions above, but please see your other post for information about Yari.

      The mountain will be busy during the autumn, but in October the majority of hikers head to Dakesawa to view the foliage. I’m not sure how many people actually climb Mt. Yari in early October. The hut is huge, though and never turns anyone away

      The mountain huts provide futon to sleep on. You’ll be sharing floor space with other hikers. Bring earplugs because Japanese people love snoring.

      Meal times are usually set. It’s usually 5:30 or 6pm depending on the hut and number of people. Really busy huts have 2 or 3 dinner sittings, and you’ll be assigned a time when you check-in.

      If you don’t have a reservation and want to eat dinner, it’s better to arrive early (at 2 to 3 pm say), rather than just before dinner is served. Since it’s a set meal, they might not have enough food if too many unexpected people show up.

      Other hikes this time of year if you don’t decide to go to Yari would include Mt, Tanzawa (close to Tokyo), Hakusan traverse, Kita dake in the Minami Alps, and Oze National Park near Nikko.


  25. Mike B Says:

    Hi Wes, hoping you have some information regarding hikes around Tokyo. Last year in October I was able to make it out to Mitake-san and Otake-san. I would like to do something similar this year but it would be on December 4th. I do not shy away from cold temps and snow, but will not be prepared for alpine hiking. Still, would rather get off the pavement and into the hills. Any suggestions for a day trip out of Tokyo?

    • wes Says:


      Do you want to do a day-trip? Mt. Kumotori is a fine choice, though a bit long for a day trip (unless you catch a really early train)

      The mountains of Nikko and Oze are covered in snow now, so you’ll need crampons.

      Elsewhere, you could climb Mt. Daibosatsu this time of year. Again, take an early train to Enzan station and a bus from there.

      The other option would be to do some hiking near Mt. Fuji, though it’s a bit far just for a day trip (there’s a good hostel near Lake Kawaguchi which makes for a good base)

      Keep an eye on the weather between now and then and make a decision based on how you feel. There aren’t so many mountains near Tokyo, as most of the area is pretty flat.

      I hope that helps


  26. Mike B Says:

    Hi Wes! Thanks for the information. As it turned out I hiked Takao-san to Jimba-san on a fantastic day to be on the trail.

    Have a trip report at

    Thanks again. Hope to make Japan again.

  27. Brian C Says:

    Hey man, your website’s great! Just got stationed in Camp Zama so I’ll be here a few years, unfortunately there aren’t many people interested in hiking / climbing / backpacking here, any chance I can hook up with whatever group you trip around with, or if you know of any groups in the zama-shi area?

  28. Rachel Grindlay Says:

    Hi Wes,

    Great website. I’m coming to Japan in late June – early July and have 2-3 days available to hopefully do some hiking. I do a lot of bushwalking in Sydney, Australia.

    I’ve downloaded the Lonely Planet’s Hiking in Japan chapter on Kansai and I like the look of the Yatsubuchi-no-taki walk. However, I notice you don’t have it written up on your site. Have you done it? Would you recommend it? Is it going to be full of everyone who reads Lonely Planet?

    I’m probably going to be based in Sakai so I’d be interested if you had any suggestions for walks that were easy to access from there.

    Thanks in advance.

    • wes Says:


      Cheers for checking out the site.

      I’ve been up Yatsubuchi 2 or 3 times, and it’s definitely worth a visit. I guess my main reason for not writing it up on this site was that I got sidetracked and wanted to cover hiking trails not listed in Lonely Planet. Oh, and I guess I don’t have that many photos of Yatsubuchi. Hmmm, perhaps I’ll head up there sometime soon.

      The hike itself is rather long (bring a torch because you’ll more than likely be coming down in the dark depending on when you start). The trail really isn’t that crowded. You’ll run into people on weekends, but it’s nothing like hiking in the hills near Tokyo. Yatsubuchi is a popular place for “shower climbing” and you’ll see groups donned in full wetsuit gear who climb up and over the MIDDLE of the falls!

      From Sakai the closest hike would probably be the Kisen Alps. It’s a beautiful hike in one of my secret areas. It’s never ever crowded, even on weekends.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.


  29. Suz Says:

    Thank you for the wonderful information on this site! I’m an American residing in Fukushima-ken for two years. I had a very difficult time finding information for hikes until I expanded my Japanese vocabulary and spent many hours searching online. The English access on this site makes it much easier for me, however most of these hikes are far away and I don’t have much time off of work, usually only one day per week. That limits my hikes to local peaks accessible by bike, bus, or train since I can’t drive and I have to make it to the summit and back home in a day.

    The Japanese website http://www.yamareco.com has been very helpful for local hikes; hopefully others can use it as well. I combined it with information from Hiking in Japan to form my recent trek up Mt. Bandai last week. I’m hoping to summit 鳥海山 this summer before I go up Fuji, so if there are any significant changes to the blog post from 2008 I would be much obliged to hear about them.

    Again, thank you for your hard work and detailed descriptions. If you know of other hikes around the Koriyama area besides Bandai and Adatara (also on my to-do list) let me know!

    • wes Says:

      Sorry for the late reply Suz.

      The info for Chokai is still up-to-date. No major changes there.

      Other hikes near Koriyama? Not sure. There are some peaks around Lake Inawashiro that may or may not have trails. There’s also the back side of Mt. Bandai with the colorful lakes.

      Don’t forget about Mt. Azuma as well. It’s one of the most beatiful mountains in Fukushima.

      There should be a Japanese guidebook in the bookstores specifically on Fukushima Prefecture,. Yama-to-keikoku has a series of guidebooks for every prefecture. It’s called “Fukushimaken no Yama” and the cover looks like this


      I hope this helps


  30. Pascal Says:

    Hi Wes, I wrote a short comment on the Kita-dake hike yesterday. I actually arrived on your blog straight on that page. I took a bit more time today to go through more of the hikes you describe. It is a fantastic source of info, thank you so much!
    I will eventually consider public transport for the Kita-dake hike as it sounds easy to manage.
    I am also interested by the Tsurugi-dake hike.
    And so 2 questions:
    1) for tsurugi-dake, how does the hike that you describe differ from the one described in the Lonely Planet guide? Where exactly does it start (Murodo?)?
    2) For both Kita-dake and Tsurugi-dake hikes, is there a web site we can consult for weather forecast? so that we can decide just a couple of days in advance whether to go or not (my target dates for both hikes are mid July to mid Agust).
    Thanks in advance!

    • wes Says:


      Thanks for the praise about the site and taking the time to comment. I’ll do my best to answer your questions.

      1) The hike description for Tsurugi featured on this site is a different approach from what is described in Lonely Planet. 99% of people approach Tsurugi from Murodo, but I actually prefer doing the hike from the other side of the mountain. For one it’s much safer than approaching from the Tateyama side. And two there isn’t as much up and down. It’s just one huge climb until reaching the summit (over 2000 meters of vertical elevation gain). The hike starts at a place called Banbajima. There’s no public transport there, so you’ll need to take a taxi. An alternative route would be to start at Murodo, go up and over Tsurugi, and then descend to Banbajima and hitchhike from there.

      2) There are a couple of websites for mountain weather (all of them are in Japanese unfortunately). You can also get good weather forecasts by watching the news on TV. Here’s are the links:


      You can also try calling the mountain huts directly and asking if they know what the weather will be like. The weather is changeable in the Alps. I’ve had beautiful sunshine in Matsumoto city but torrential rain in the mountains, so a lot of the forecasts aren’t that reliable. If you’ve got a barometer then bring it along and you can check the barometric pressure yourself.

      I hope that helps

  31. Pascal Says:

    Thank you for the web sites, I will get help from my Japanese colleagues in the office to read them.
    Your alternative route for Tsurugi-dake sounds exciting as it seems you can consider doing it even on a busy week-end… Is reaching Banbajima from Tokyo by car a possible option? Leaving on a very early Saturday morning and returning Sunday afternoon? Regards. Pascal

  32. Pascal Says:

    And one more question please: the hut you refer to for the Tsurugi-dake hike, is that the Kenzan-so one as in the Lonely Planet guide? If not, which one is it / do you have a telephone number to book?

    • wes Says:

      It’s a different hut from what’s mentioned in LP. The hut name is Hayatsuki Goya (早月小屋) and here is the website


      When are you planning on climbing? There’s still A LOT of snow of on Tsurugi, so it’s better to wait until August if you can. I went there in mid-July one year and the snowfields on Tsurugi were scary. You’d need crampons and an ice axe for sure.

      The hut phone number is 090-7740-9233 but it’s better to reserve by e-mail. Their e-mail address is hayatsuki@ma.net3-tv.net

      I hope this helps

  33. Pascal Says:

    Ok I will wait until August! I will try to get back to you when done! Cheers. pascal

  34. Pascal Says:

    Hi Wes, this is Pascal again.
    We just completed the Kita-dake hike, it was great although the clouds stayed in at the top so we could not see much… That was just at the top. Rest was just fine!

    I have another question about the Mt Kuro hike that you describe. It basically does not tell how long the hike takes to complete, do you know? We want to do it as a day trip, and so want to make sure we get back on time to catch a bus back to Kawaguchiko then a train back to Tokyo.

    Thanks in advance.

    • wes Says:


      Glad to hear you made it safely off Kita-dake.

      As far as Mt. Kuro goes, it should take between 4 and 6 hours, depending on your speed. I can imagine it’d be pretty hot and humid if you did it now, but aim to go as early in the morning as you can before it really starts to heat up.

      Good luck


  35. Julien P Says:

    I just came back from a fantastic ascent of Kita-dake, guided in part by this site. Thanks! I’ll be sure to consult it again for my next hiking trip!
    Here are some photos:

  36. Rana Says:

    just came across this website and it looks pretty informative on hiking in japan! we are a group of 3 traveling in autumn to Japan (25 Oct to 5 Nov) and planning to spend 2 days of our holiday hiking..but so far we are a bit lost with the best options during this period- noting that we want easy-medium level hikes, and we are interested in most impressive sceneries more than just climbing the highest peaks- notably that it would be autumn so amazing leaves!

    Just wondering if you can provide any advice and if we can book any trekking with you???
    The ideas that we could gather so far are:
    1. Onuma Park
    2. Hachimantai
    4. Lake Towada and Oirase Stream
    5. Daisetsuzan National Park:
    7. Hiking Mount Fuji/ the Five Lake region

    Thanks a lot!

    • wes Says:


      Thanks for checking out my site. I’ll try to answer your questions as best I can.

      1) Onuma – This is a feasible option, though late October may be too late to see the fall colors. The area is pretty touristy, but you can rent bicycles from the train station and ride around the lake (highly recommended). The bike ride only takes a few hours. Not much hiking around here though. Mt. Komagatake is an active volcano towering above the lake, but it’s off limits to hikers unless you register at least 3 days in advance. The crater is not accessible though.

      2) Hachimantai. There will likely be snow on Hachimantai in late October, due to the relatively high elevation. You can always check with tourist information when you arrive, as the bus runs until early November.

      3) Nikko. The autumn colors usually peak there in early to mid-November. There are some nice hikes in the Lake Chuzenji area.

      4) Oirase is one of the most famous places in Tohoku to view the autumn colors. I personally haven’t been there, so I’m not sure of access or peak times, but I assume they’ll be the same as the rest of Tohoku.

      5) Daisetsuzan. Late October is way too late to visit, as the colors reach their peak in early to mid-September. The first snows fall at the end of September, and it’s full-on winter conditions at the end of October.

      6) Urabandai. This is another great option, as there are a number of good trails around the lakes behind Mt. Bandai. Be aware that this area is relatively close to the stricken Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, which is still releasing radioactive cesium.

      7) Fuji Five Lakes – This will probably be the best option to catch the colors at their peak. With any luck you’ll catch the first snows on Fuji and see the snow-capped volcano. There’s a great hike up Mt. Ryugatake on the shores of Lake Motosu. Highly recommended.

      If you find yourself in Kansai, then Kyoto is another great option. Every year the fall colors peak at different times (last year was mid-November in Kyoto), but you’ll definitely be able to catch the colors no matter where you are.

      Unfortunately, I don’t do any guided tours. I’m way too busy for that. There are a couple of guiding companies scattered throughout Japan that may be able to offer their services. I guess a lot depends on what you’re looking for and your budget. That being said, you’ll should also be able to get around on your own depending on where you end up going.


  37. Jose Renteria Says:


    First of all thanks, what an amazing website, hard work and passion shows up every line I read. I am from Mexico and I live in Sendai. Could you please reccomend me a nice hike to take my kids (12 & 10) around Miyagi? I have climbed Fuji san and a few other small hikes by myself but I´d like a great view after a not so hard hike with my boys. Any ideas?
    Thanks a lot for your time.


    • wes Says:


      Sorry for the late reply.

      The best hike near Sendai is Mt. Zao. IF you take the bus or drive to Katta-toge, then it’s an easy hike over some rolling volcanic hills, past an emerald green lake, to the summit of Mt. Kumano. From there you can continue up and over Mt. Jizo to the top of the gondola, and take it down to Zao hot spring (or just retrace your steps back to Katta-toge parking lot)

      The other place to visit is Yamadera, which is a mountainside temple. I don’t have it written up on the site because it’s more of a stair climb than a hike, but it’s still well worth a visit if you haven’t been there already. Take the JR Senzan like from Sendai station. It’s about 50 minutes by express train to Yamadera station. From there you can walk to the temple.

      I hope this helps


      • joserenteriac Says:

        Thanks a lot Wes! I know Yamadera and I´ll plan for the Zao hike before the snow comes.

        Have a great day.


  38. Rana Says:


    sorry for the very late “thank you for the great advice!” as I’ve been disconnected from anything other than work email!!

    well my friends have now planned the Japan trip for end of October, and i guess we will only have some time to hike in Nikko, and maybe a little bit in Hakone.
    Any specific hike recommended within the Nikko national park? been reading about Mount Nantai and Shirane but not sure how feasible!


  39. Merita Says:

    Hi there. So glad I stumbled on your site- think you’re on to a great thing here! I am training for the Oxfam Trailwalker back in NZ in April and need some decent walks (anything more than 10km) for training. If you know of anything near Suzuka, Mie Prefecture I would really appreciate some help. The long, flat areas around the river here are the closest to off-road training I’m getting but I am bored already (the mountains are calling to me)! Apparently the Suzuka mountain range has some good hikes but I can’t find any information on them in English, although I have taken the ropeway up Mount Gozaisho- beautifull!

    • wes Says:


      Yes, there are some good hikes in the Suzuka mountains, but I hope you’re prepared for snow hiking!

      You should definitely go to Mt. Fujiwara. The nearest station is Nishi-Fujiwara on the Kintetsu line. Get off there and head into the mountains. The trail to Fujiwara-dake (藤原岳) should be clearly marked. It’s a popular hike in the snow, so the route should be clearly marked.

      If you have experience in the snow, then you can walk along the ridge from Mt. Fujiwara over to Mt. Oike (御池岳). The only problem with hiking over there is I’m not sure if route 306 is open to traffic in the winter, which means you’d have to hike all the way back. It’s probably a good 10km on the ridge to Oike. I haven’t done the hike personally, so I’m not sure of trail conditions.

      If you’ve done Mt. Gozaisho, then I recommend Mt. Kama (鎌ヶ岳). It’s on the same ridge as Gozaisho, but about 2 hours further south. Again you’ll need an ice axe and crampons/snowshoes if hiking in the winter. A nice long hike would be to climb Gozaisho, head along the ridge to Mt. Kama, and then back down the valley to Yunoyama hot spring. It’s about a 7 hour hike, so you’d want to start early if doing it this season because of decreased daylight hours.

      I hope that helps. Let me know if you have other questions.


  40. Ken Says:

    Hi! Thanks for the website and all the info. Forgive me if this has been covered elsewhere, but I was wondering if anybody has any info on off-trail hiking in Japan. I’m from the U.S., where there are plenty of national forests where you can just pull over to the side of the road and just go walking into the forest or up a mountain or whatever you want, which is what I like to do.
    I’ve tried looking up the official regulations for the national parks etc. in Japanese but not much luck… Just wanted to see if anybody has any experience or background.

    Also I’m in Ogaki, Gifu, so if anybody can suggest any good hikes closeby (on trails or otherwise) it would be much appreciated.



    • wes Says:


      Thanks for checking out the site.

      In Japan, most people don’t do off-trail hiking unless it’s for a specific purpose (picking mountain vegetables, hunting animals, searching for mushrooms, harvesting cedar trees, etc). The National Park system here is completely different from the US. There are no park rangers and a lot of land is actually privately owned.

      That being said, you can pretty much hike anywhere you want, but I would make sure you know the terrain first, as it’s incredibly easy to get lost if you’re below tree line. I’ve had to forge my own trail a few times and it’s not fun. The terrain is usually incredibly steep, with dangerous cliffs often buried in the undergrowth. Expect a spider web every few feet, as well as ticks, mosquitos, horseflies, and leeches. Going off-trail means you’re more likely to encounter bears, so it’s another issue to consider.

      However, if going off-trail is your cup of tea, I would start local first. There are usually fire trails and logging roads built on 90% of Japan’s mountains. Keep your bearings and don’t go alone. If you do have an accident and need help then no one will come and save you. If you’re on a trail at least someone is likely to come along.

      In the alpine areas above tree line, you could, in theory, walk anywhere you’d like but will likely get scolded for trampling endangered wildflowers and for scaring ptarmigan out of their nesting sites.

      As far as hikes near Ogaki, Mt. Ryozen is a good choice (though avoid the summer as there are too many leeches). Mt. Ibuki has great views but the parking lot and souvenir shops on the summit ruin the experience. There are plenty of peaks north of Ibuki (Yokoyama, Nogo-hakusan, Arashima, etc). Plenty of bears in that area though, and you’ll need to wait until late April when most of the snow melts.

      I hope that helps


  41. Ken Says:

    Hi Wes,

    Thanks for the reply – this is all really helpful info. The mountains here are definitely different from our Colorado mountains so it’s good to have as much background as possible.
    Thanks for the help!

  42. bobby Says:

    i will be traveling in japan this april from 11-23 and i am planning to go hiking. i will be around okinawa, nagoya, tokyo and places between. i hope to hear suggestions. thanks!


    • wes Says:


      Sorry for the late reply. It’s been a busy winter.

      Which part of Okinawa are you going to be? There’s not much hiking on the main island unless you head to the northern tip (you’d need a car and it would take several hours with the horrendous traffic of Naha) If you’re further south (Ishigaki Island or Iriomote for example, there are plenty of great jungle hikes)

      The Japan Alps will still be buried under meters and meters of snow in April. Best to steer clear of them. You could climb a mountain with a view of the Japan Alps (Mt. Ibuki near Nagoya for instance).

      The most popular day hike from Tokyo is Mt. Takao, but the crowds of people will really put you off. Perhaps it’s better to head to Odake, which has more manageable visitors.

      You’ll probably catch the cherry blossoms at some point during your trip. The further north you head, the later they bloom.

      Are you an experienced hiker? How about hiking in the snow? A lot of the better peaks will be snow-capped in April, so my recommendations will depend a lot on your experience and fitness level, as well as what kind of hiking you want to do (valleys vs. forested areas vs. active volcanoes for instance)

      Let me know what other kinds of questions you might have



      • Kit Says:

        Hi Wes

        THis is very helpful as I’m going to Japan next Friday! I’m really hoping to go to Japan Alp just to learn that it will open in mid-April :( Anyway, I might try some of the hiking places you have mentioned.


      • bobby Says:

        thank you for the suggestions. i will be in japan on the 11th of april, i am an experienced hiker for tropics but not in a snowy mountain, and my plan is to try one since most of the mountains are covered in snow but i dont have the needed equipments. i can also try mt. takao. is there a group that i can go with? not really a big group. thanks again

  43. Tony Says:

    hi there
    thank you for making such a cool website.
    I am intending on visiting japan for the month of April (next week).
    I was sad to read that the alps will be under snow…but then i could always learn to ski!!!
    I was keen on doing some long hikes, hut to hut, preferably with onsens & lots of natural beauty, could you recommend some hikes that would be suitable during the month of April?
    I am open to travel anywhere in the country.

    • wes Says:


      All the of the best multi-day treks are buried under meters and meters of snow. Hokkaido, Tohoku, and the Japan Alps are pretty much off limits.

      You have lots of options for day hikes.

      If you want to do an overnight hike, then Kyushu is the place to go.

      Mt. Kuju is a great traverse. Start day 1 at Makinoto-toge, hike up and over Kuju and Naka-dake, then descend to Bogatsuru. There’s a hot spring here, and you can camp or stay in the hut. The next day, climb Mt. Taisen and then descend to Choja-baru. Lonely Planet has a pretty good descrption of the route.

      If you want to do a 3 or 4 day trek, then head down to Yakushima and traverse across the entire island over Mt. Miyanoura. It’s a great trek – just be prepared for rain.

      I hope this helps


  44. Tony Says:

    thanks :-)

  45. Jim Says:

    Just found your very helpful site. We will be making our first trip to Japan for about 3 weeks in late May/early June. We start our trip in Tokyo, end in Nara/Kyoto area, and have about a week in between when we would like to do some walks and see some of the countryside in that general region. We will only be equipped for day walks so ideally we will stay for a few days somewhere between as a base for several day walks. Any suggestions? We are middle-aged but fit and ready to walk 5-6 hours a day.

    BTW, a small suggestion for your site. It would be helpful to include a small locator map for each walk or each section just to indicate what part of the country it’s in, and the nearest main cities. I’m not very familiar with the geography or the prefectures yet so I spend a lot of time jumping to Google maps just to find out where these places are.


    • wes Says:


      Terribly sorry for the late reply. It’s been a hectic couple of weeks at work.

      What kind of scenery/terrain are you interested in exploring? You have a lot of options available. Kamikochi is a highly recommended place. Accomodation can get quite expensive if you stay in the hotels, but there is an affordable campsite where you can rent tents (or stay in small cottages). Kamikochi is relatively flat, but you do have options for getting up into the alpine (you won’t be able to scale the larger peaks in a day though) Kamikochi is the closest thing in Japan to an “alpine” resort. You could combine this trip with a trip to say, Takayama city, which is the “Kyoto of the Hida area”. There’s a place called Shirakawa-go which is a collection of traditional thatched-roof farmhouses. You can actually stay in the farmhouses for an affordable price (8000 yen with 2 meals).

      If you’re looking to hike/walk in the Kansai area, there’s a path called the “Yama-no-be-no-michi, which is written up in the Lonely Planet Hiking in Japan guide. It’s more of a walk through the countryside than a proper hike, but you can get a taste of small villages and also see some ancient burial mounds and old temples and shrines. It starts at Tenri station and finishes at Sakurai station (both on the Kintetsu line)

      Yes, I realize that not having maps on the site is a bit of a hindrance. I’ve considered using Google maps, but I don’t really like their platform. I want to create my own basic maps of each region so you can get a better idea of where the hikes are positioned when you click on each region. It’s an ongoing project and I just need to hire a gifted web designer who can make it happen.

      Please let me know if you have any other questions and good luck with the planning.


      • Jim Says:

        Thanks Wes, that’s very helpful – I’m working through the LP guides to read up on the places you mention, and may have more questions then. Our main wish is to see some of the nature of Japan to balance our time in Tokyo and Kyoto/Nara.

        Re maps, I realise detailed maps would be a major undertaking. I was just thinking of a simple graphic indicator of which part of the country each walking region is in. Another way might be simply to arrange the list of regions into regional groups e.g. central Honshu, near Tokyo, western Honshu, etc. – similar to the chapters in the LP hiking and general guides. Just a thought.

        Thanks again,

  46. Davina Says:

    Hi Wes, I am doing some research work on the benefits of walking and have tried to find information about whether trekking/hiking is a popular physical activity for the Japanese- I am really struggling to get any numbers and I need that for my report. Do you have any idea where I could find stuff like that? Any help would be really appreciated!

    Thank you,

    • wes Says:


      Sorry for the late reply. I’ve been searching on-line for data, but haven’t been able to find much myself. Can you read Japanese or have access to someone who can?

      I would suggest contacting the Japan Mountaineering Association. http://www.jma-sangaku.or.jp/contact/index.html

      They might be able to help you find some answers. I’m not sure if they can understand English, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

      The only data I’ve found so far is about mountaineering accidents in Japan (as well as data on how many people climb Mt. Fuji every year)

      Hiking is an immensely popular activity in Japan. Sorry I don’t have exact numbers for you.

      You could also try JNTO (Japan National Tourism Organization)

      Good luck in your search for data and let me know what you find. I’m interested in that stuff too!


  47. Michelle Says:

    Hi Wes

    Thanks again for sharing your knowledge of Hiking in Japan with myself and others. Your blog is a great resource.

    We will be hiking in Hokkaido from late June to late July, wilderness camping the majority of the time. While the Lonely Planet hiking guide highlights certain risks, we need more local information to assess the significance of these risks.

    1. I understand that not all water sources in Hokkaido are contaminated with echinococcus, but it’s not clear how often people need to boil or filter water.
    – Is potable water available frequently from huts, springs or other non-contaminated sources?
    – Or will we need to filter or boil water daily?

    2. Japanese B encephalitis: I’ve read that the risk is highest in the western part of the country from July to October.
    – Is this also true for the western part of Hokkaido?
    – Are mosquitos a big problem in July?
    – Is it a big enough risk to warrant getting immunised?

    3. Expected weather: We’re packing gear to deal with everything from up to 30C at sea level, to camping down to 5C at high camps.
    – Would you expect to camp in colder conditions than this?

    Thanks for your help!


    • wes Says:


      Terribly sorry for the late reply. I hope your trip planning is going well.

      1) If you’re in the wilderness, you’ll definitely need to boil all of your water just to play it safe. (especially in Daisetsuzan). Water in towns is completely safe to drink.

      2) I wouldn’t worry about getting vaccinated. Cases of encephalitis are rare. Mosquitoes aren’t a problem at all in Hokkaido. Horseflies are rampant during August, but July should be manageable.

      3) You won’t have 30C weather in Hokkaido. The climate is the same as Canada, so bring a jacket, fleece, and down jacket. I’ve had temperatures around 15C at sea level even in August. I’d also prepare for conditions close to zero in Daisetsuzan, especially in June. There’s still quite a bit of snow up there.

      Let me know if you have any other questions. Good luck with the rest of your planning


  48. Michelle Says:

    Excellent info, thanks Wes. Nice to have these things confirmed. Will pack some warmer clothing!

    I’d also like to ask you about managing the bear risk. My husband has done a lot of camping in the USA and Canada and there they never cook at the place they camp, they hang their food high in trees, sleep in clean clothing etc. Some places have storage platforms or boxes for food. We can’t find any mention of similar practices in Japan. What do people do in Hokkaido when they are wilderness camping away from huts?

    Thanks, Michelle

    • wes Says:


      You’re advised to hang your food (if there are trees around your campsite). If you climb Mt. Rausu then they have bear boxes at Rausu-daira campsite.

      Shiretoko peninsula has the highest concentration of bears, so camping is not advised. A friend of mine camped there illegally and his tent was surrounded by bears the entire night. They didn’t attack though. I guess they weren’t hungry enough.

      Funny thing though. I’ve never seen any hikers hang their food. Most keep it in their tents to prevent other animals (raccoon dogs, foxes, mice) from getting into it. My feeling is that the foxes will be more of a problem in Hokkaido than the bears!

  49. Michelle Says:

    Many thanks again. Only two sleeps to go til we hit Hokkaido. Will post to your blog if we do or see anything unusual. Regards, Michelle

  50. Hi Wes,

    Do you know how the weather in the Southern Alps compares in early July (now) and early-mid September?

    I wanted to attempt the Shirane-sanzan, but it looks like my timing in Japan is a little off: I will leave Japan at the end of this week and be back early-mid September. Either way leaves me no way to return from Nōtori-dake as the official climbing season (or at least the season with buses run) seem quite short.

    But I’d at least like to try Kita-dake. Looking at the forecasts, it looks like the weather is only so-so in the earlier part of this week with some showers and some sunshine.

    Is September usually better or worse? I know that the official climbing season for Mt Fuji is over by then, so it makes me wonder it might snow/be harsher to climb during that months. Then again, the pictures taken from the Southern Alps in September that I have seen all seem quite okay.

    • wes Says:


      The weather will be about the same temperature-wise, but in September you need to watch out for typhoons, which sweep through Honshu regularly.

      If you can I’d try to hit Kita-dake soon, as the weather will be stable for the next couple of days

  51. Carolinc Says:


    I’m so glad there’s a blog strictly for hikes in Japan! I’ll be going to Osaka the end of october and I was wondering what mt you rec. Preferences: ~4 hour round-trip hike,moderate difficulty.. amazing view for this time of the year..

    Any recs. would help! I’ll be there for 4 days and I want to dedicate about about 2 days to for hiking.

    Any advice would help! Thank you!

  52. Rachel Tonk Says:

    many of your directions start with “from the bus stop…” or “from the train station…” but they don’t specify which stop or station. I’m sure I’m missing something — could you clue me in?

    • wes Says:

      train and bus station names are covered under the “Access” section of each hike. Scroll down and you will find it.

  53. Magnus Says:

    Such a good and informative site here.
    I have a few question to ask too.
    I will be travelling to japan(tokyo) this year frm Nov 11 to 18. Objective are to do some snow alpine trekking till summit. These are the 2 mountains i have mind.
    1)Mt Yatsugatake
    2)Mt Yarigatake

    Can u please advise which one is the safest to hike during that period of time? Plus is it gonna be snowing? Thanks,hope u will help me here.

    • wes Says:


      November weather is difficult to predict. Some years mid-November is completely snowed in while other years the Japan Alps have very little snow.

      Yatsugatake is a much safer mountain. The huts are open all year and lots of people do winter trekking. Yarigatake hut closes on November 3rd and Kamikochi closes shortly after that, so the only approach to Yari is via Shin-hotaka hot spring. You’ll have to carry in all of your gear and you’ll be completely alone, but it could offer a wonderful experience if you have the skills and equipment.

      You won’t really know about the weather conditions until late October, so it might be difficult to plan until then.

      • Magnus Says:

        Hi Wes,
        Thanks for the info. Guess i will wait till october then for the latest weather update.Cheers.

  54. Marc Says:

    FIrst, thanks so much for such a wonderful site! Second, I’m looking for a recommendation. I have the LP Hiking and have read through your site but there are so many options it’s overwhelming.

    We’re visiting Japan for two weeks at the end of May. From Tokyo, we wanted to stop somewhere in the Alps for around 3-4 days to see some small alps towns and get some hard trekking in. We can camp or stay in lodges…haven’t decided.

    Do you have any input for any decent routes that will be passable in mid-may? Mt. Azumaya (四阿山)sounded good—maybe catch end of cherry blossoms? But we’d be looking to pair that with something a bit more difficult…

    Then we’d like to go down to do Kumano Kodo for a few days. Eventually we fly from Osaka.

  55. Loretta Says:

    Hi, I am heading to Japain mid Sept for 2weeks and hope to cover as much of the North Alps as possible mainly Tateyama, Tsurigi-dake, Yari-ga-take. I don’t intend to spend much (or any) time in the cities at all. I arrive early in the morning at NRT and would like to catch the first train/bus to the trailhead Murodo. Would you advise purchasing a rail pass for the period (cost reason)? Alternatively, there is an overnight bus from Tokyo to Murodo with the Alpico Group but LP guide suggests that the buses only operates from July to Aug. And since I don’t read Kanji, its a bit hard to decipher the timetable. Do you have other suggestions for alternative bookings?

    • wes Says:


      You can inquire about buses at the tourist information center (or any travel agency for that matter). I’m based in Osaka so I’m not sure about bus access from Tokyo.

      Good luck with your planning


  56. Thierry Says:

    My girlfriend and I are planning a holiday in Japan and particularly the Alps. We’ll arrive to Tokyo from Amsterdam on the 14th of july and have until the 27th, so only 2 weeks.

    We don’t like big crowds too much but the problem is we don’t have a driver’s license :(
    Which (quiet) hikes would you recommend us to do? Which part of the Alps? Also, is there a possibility to pitch our tent in the Alps?

    I hope you get this message and you can help us.
    Thank you for the wonderful site :)

  57. Perry Says:


    My wife and I plus another couple are looking to do a 3-4 day walk either near Kamikochi or we have also spotted a walk Shirouma-dake to ogisawa (in an earlier version of “Hiking in Japan”) in very early October 2014 (starting 1/10). We like the latter option but are having trouble finding huts for this walk on the internet and quite a few of the links written in the book now seem to be dead. Here is one site that we have subsequently found that looks promising for finding huts (http://www.hakuba-sanso.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/2014hakuba_english.pdf)
    Even so, it seems that some of the hut locations along the walk (i.e. locations suggested in the book) are closed by early October. Can you please let us know if we are interpreting this correctly (i.e. dumb Australians) and if there are any other hut options on this walk? If not, can you suggest another 3 to day walk or 2 x two days walks in the area

    Thankyou very much


  58. Lyn Khoo Says:

    Dear Wes,

    We are planning to drive to Osaka in mid December and are wondering where would be a good place to base ourselves to do a couple of day hikes in the region. Also, we have read about the Kumano Kodo trail but it sounds as if most people go from point A to point B and then point C, without coming back to A. But as we are a family of 5 (3 children aged 21, 18 and 14) and would be carrying baggage for two weeks with us, we are hoping to base ourselves in just one place and do parts of the Kumano Trail. Would you be able to advice us as to where would be a good place to base ourselves? Thank you!


  59. kabeiser Says:

    It looks like the Kansai/Chugoku area is somewhat dry over winter. Will the waterfalls look nice if I came for a 2 week trip in April? Or would Sept/Oct be a better time for nice weather, nice greenery or fall colors and full waterfalls?

  60. Lauren Says:

    I’m looking to do the Tokai nature trail thruhike in September but can’t find much information on it in English. Do you know of any websites or anyone that has done the hike?

  61. Sarah Says:

    Hi Wes,

    Thank you for this fantastic Site, and offering all this information.
    I have a question and it has mainly to do with bears. I am thinking of doing the hike Tate-Yama to Kamikôchi hike, and camping at the huts on the route. Do you know how the food storage is managed?

    Thank you

    • wes Says:


      Thanks for checking out the site.

      As far as your question goes, you can safely store your food inside of your tent. The Japan Alps are above the tree line anyway and there would be no place to hang it. Bears don’t come near tents except in Hokkaido. I’ve camped hundreds of times here in Japan and have always kept my food in my tent without any problems. If you did hang it in trees then monkeys would take your food anyway.

      I hope that helps.


      • Sarah Says:

        Hi Wes

        This is perfect thank you so much.
        When you camp below the tree line you would do the same? keep the food inside the tent? mainly because of the monkeys?

        thank you


      • wes Says:

        Yes Sarah. Even in the treeline it’s best to keep food inside the tent. If you hang it monkeys will take it, and if you store it out in the open then the wild boars will tear it apart.

      • Sarah Says:

        Thank you very much for answering my questions.
        Have a great day.


  62. Andrzej Says:

    Hi Wes,

    I am thinking of doing the hike Japan Alps from south to north in September 2015. Tanzawa – Fuji – Hijiri-dake – Kita-dake – Kiso-koma-ga-take – Ontake – Norikura-dake – Yari-ga-take – Tata-yama – (maybe also Shirouma-dake). I have Hiking in Japan guidebook, where there are some parts of the Japan Alps described and some maps mentioned, but some areas are “white gaps”. Could you please give me some hints on maps which I could order to cover all area I am going to go through? I spend few days looking for proper maps but everything is in Japan.

    Thank you!

    • wes Says:


      Thanks for checking out my site.

      Which maps do you need for the ‘white gaps’? Unfortunately, you can only order the Japanese maps through the Amazon Japan website. Not sure why it is like this to be honest, as on Amazon Japan we can order things from most other countries.

      The only way around this is to either buy the maps when you arrive in Japan (available at any bookstore), or get someone to buy the maps for you in Japan and send them to you.

      Also, Ontake is currently off limits as there was a big eruption there last fall. The volcano is still erupting and probably won’t open this year.

      September is also typhoon season, so be prepared for some rainy weather when the storms move through.

      I hope this helps.


      • Andrzej Says:

        Hi Wes,

        Thank you very much for quick response and important information!

        First of all, which month is the best for trekking in this part of the Japan in your opinion? I thought previously about June, but I cannot leave Poland during this period of time.

        According to lonely planet, Shobunsha’s Tama-to-Kogen series are the best maps. Taking into account information from this guidebook I should buy maps (starting from south) nos. 28, 31, 41, 42, 40, 37 etc. My question about “white gaps” regarded places between those described in the “Hiking in Japan” – for example: which map should I buy for the area between map nos. 28 (Tanzawa) and 31 (Fuji).

        Maybe I could find some general map on which all Tama-to-Kogen maps are shown with areas which ther cover?

        I really impressed of your hard work with this page. I think that for many trekkers (I was trying to find anything for few days) it is only possibility to learn anything about trekking in Japan.

        Thank you!

      • wes Says:


        June can be a good month before the rain season starts in mid-June. The Alps do get a lot of snow, however, so you would need to be prepared for some snow at that time.

        September is the best time for the Alps, as long as there aren’t any typhoons. You can get 4 of 5 days in a row with great weather in September. August usually has more rain and fog in the Alps than September, so you should be fine.

        It looks like the Tanzawa map (#28) and Fuji (#31) overlap, so there shouldn’t be any white gaps. You might need to walk on the road for a little between Fuji and Tanzawa (I don’t own the Tanzawa map so I don’t know exactly.)

        If you want to save some money, there is a Yama To Kogen map that covers all of the Japan Alps (and Yatsugatake as well). It’s a 1:150,000 scale map so it’s not as detailed as the regular maps (which are 1:50,000 scale), but it’s detailed enough so you could use it for trekking. The map number is #33 and this is what it looks like.


  63. Jamie Says:


    I’m currently in the process of planning a trip to Japan that will take in some hiking and I’m very keen to see some wild snow monkeys. Not ones lounging in a pool, but out in the wilderness. Is there anywhere in particular that is recommended, somewhere that has a hostel nearby?

    I had heard Wakinosawa was good but it seems a bit hard to access and I don’t believe the hostel there can be booked online!

    Thanks for any advice!

    • wes Says:

      What time of year are you coming?

      Kamikochi is a great place to see wild monkeys. There’s a cheap campsite as well, if you’re bringing a tent.

  64. Colin Says:

    Dear Wes,

    I’m hoping to introduce my 10 and 7 year old sons to hiking next month, and wondered whether Kamikochi’s valleys would be a good start.

    We’ll have almost four days (arriving from Tokyo on Friday night, returning to Tokyo for Tuesday night). Ideally, I’d like a mix of activities and sights (e.g. a mountain hut, an onsen, the ropeway, Yakedake, maybe some rock-climbing).

    I have hiked a lot, but never in Japan. Thus, I’m looking for someone who can help me plan an interesting, challenging, but safe adventure. If you could recommend anyone, I’d be grateful to hear from you.

    Thank you, and for your wonderful site,


  65. Andrzej Says:

    Hi Wes,

    I am going to visit Japan next year to hike. My friends are just in Tokyo and it is opprotunity to buy some maps for me. Could you please recommend any bookstores/ shopes where they could buy them, especially Shobun-sha’s ones?

    Thank you in advance,

    • wes Says:

      Any big bookshop will have them. Tell your friends to go to main Kinokuniya bookstore in Shinjuku, or any Junkudo, or Maruzen shops.

  66. Anne Henley Says:

    Wes hello from Australia,

    There is so much fantastic information here and from the HIJ Facebook pages too so many, many thanks.

    Like so many non Japanese speakers / readers keen for hiking information the issue of maps is a nightmare … so I had to share a table I found that lists the Lonely Planet Hiking In Japan walks in the Tokyo & Chubu Regions to the appropriate Yama-to-Kogen map, gives the map title in Japanese and then … yehhhaaa … links to Amazon Jp where it can be purchased (I hope … I will test the theory later today).


    While the link lands on the Japanese Amazon page one click of the ‘translate button’ and you are linked to a more recent map. And yes its in Japanese but that beats NO map ;-)

    I hope this is helpful to those who are Googling around trying to solve the map puzzle.

    Best regards,

  67. Miha Says:

    Hi Wes,

    I plan my first Japan trip this July. The island of Iriomote is in my plans late July. Before that I plan to climb Fuji and after that I am still undecided. Mount Yari is a possibility. But now to my Iriomote questions –

    I have contacted a particular website offering kayak and trekking tours, as well as the B&B where I’ll be staying, about the possibility of the Iriomote island traverse. Both tell me July is simply too hot and humid for this traverse. For this reason guided tours are not offered, and they strongly advise me against going into the jungle on my own in these conditions (I would not be alone, but with my girlfriend, still I was thinking about going without a guide.).

    On the other hand Hiking in Japan book offers this in the When to Hike section for the Iriomote-Jima traverse: “Locals say the best season to visit are April, and from mid-June through July after the rainy season.”

    Do you have an opinion on this? Also, can you tell what kind of transport options exist on Iriomote after last local bus ends their daily schedule (which is somewhere around 5pm). In example, what chances would I have to get from Ohara to Uehara (where I will be staying) in the evening? Could I get a taxi? Should I rent a scooter?

    Great site by the way. Thanks and best regards,

  68. Colin Says:

    Dear Miha,

    I was on Iriomote last month. The local advice then as well was against the traverse, for the same reasons you give. One of the foreigners staying in our guest house, who didn’t seem in particularly good shape, did it without a problem. She was a seasoned traveler, however. I didn’t attempt it as I was with my children.

    Re: transport, we were fine hitchhiking, but may have benefited from the two young children’s “kawaii” factor.

    I was told that the only taxis on the island are in Ohara. Unsure why you need to travel from Ohara to Uehara after 5pm, I wondered if you were planning on taking the ferry to Ohara. If so, you may want to take it directly to Uehara.

  69. Miha Says:

    Dear Colin,

    Thank you for your feedback. I hope you had great fun on Iriomote!

    My guesthouse is in Uehara, so I guess if I do the traverse I’ll have to get back there from Ohara. Plus I am curious in general if on any given day I am not within walking distance of Uehara after 5pm what options do I have to drive there. Hitchhiking is also a possiblity, thanks for mentioning.


    • Colin Says:

      Dear Miha,

      You can also rent bicycles in Uehara at the petrol station across from Kanpira-so. That wouldn’t help you return from the traverse, but may be more generally useful.

  70. Elina Says:

    Hi, Wes.

    Thank you for this useful website. Me and my boyfriend are planning to do some hiking in Hokkaido at the end of June and the beginning of August. The ideal would be 2 week long hike, preferably off-trail. I found some of your advice and info about off-trail hikes.

    We have experience of hiking off-trail in Finland, but as I understood, it is different in Japan with the regulations etc. But is it still doable? Can we find proper maps of the terrain and where about in Hokkaido this could be done?

    If hiking on trails, what would be your suggestion for a long hike, with as much solitude as possible?

  71. Matthijs Says:


    I’ll be heading to japan first of august and will try to do 14 days of hiking. Main main questions is regarding the huts found in the ‘Japanese Alps’; what is required to bring along.
    I will bring my sleeping sack, but how about mats and/or sleeping bag.

    Kind regards,

    • wes Says:

      Are you going to stay in the huts? If so then you don’t need anything. They have futon, bedding, and blankets (and provide meals as well) A pair of earplugs is useful, however, as a lot of Japanese people snore

  72. We will be in Sendai for about 5 days in mid-August. We are avid hikers who have hiked much of the west and northeast of the US and are looking for day hikes in the Sendai region. You seem to have the incredible knowledge regarding hiking in Japan. Might you have any recommendations. Thanks, Jason

    • wes Says:


      Thanks for checking out my site.

      The closest mountain to Sendai is Mt. Zao, on the border of Miyagi and Yamagata Prefectures. It’s a stunning volcano with splendid scenery, though it may be tough to do it as a day trip without an early start. I don’t think there’s a bus from the Miyagi side of the mountain up to the trailhead at Katta pass – you’d have to get to Yamagata station first (or try to hitchike up the road from Tougatta Onsen (遠刈田温泉) on the Miyagi side.

      A better option might be a hike on the Northern edge of the Zao mountain range, starting at Omoshiroyama Kogen (面白山高原) station on the JR Senzan line that connects Sendai and Yamagata stations. You could combine this with a morning trip to Yamadera, which is only one stop further on the same line. I haven’t climb Mt. Omoroshio but it looks pretty interesting and there is no shortage of trails from the station. My map says about 2 hours from Omoshiro Kogen station to the summit of Mt. Omoshiro (1200 meters high). You could continue along the ridge all the way to Niro Onsen (ニロ温泉) and take a bus back to Yamagata, or just loop back back to the station. The tourist information center should have some information about the mountain.

      I hope that’s helpful. Be careful of horseflies in the Zao mountains.

  73. Chris Says:

    Hi Wes,

    It’s about time i took a break from reading all the information on your site to actually extend a few words of appreciation! I’ve lived in Kyoto and Tokyo for nearly a decade and this has been the best resource i’ve found for all things hiking related. You’ve done a huge service to fellow hikers like myself, and helped me choose and get through at least 30-40 hikes around the country. Much appreciation from a salaryman in Kyoto contemplating how to beat the heat for the next month, and all subsequent summers in Japan…



    • wes Says:

      No worries Chris. There was literally no English information at all about Japan’s mountains (outside of Mt. Fuji), so just wanted to share my knowledge.

  74. Sean Davies Says:

    Hi there!I have 15days in Japan.The first 4days will be with friends in Tokyo. Then I would like to spend the rest hiking ,and pitching my small tent.I dont mind hard walking,mainly looking for the sights.Did northern Camino d santiago..spain last year.From Australia. Thankyou.Sean

    • wes Says:


      The Japan Alps are a must-do. Kamikochi is the best place to use as a base camp (there’s a cheap campground just a few minutes walk from the bus terminal). From there you can do a loop and climb Mt. Yari and Oku-hotaka. Bring warm clothes though, because it can reach zero degrees at night.

      • Denis Nav Says:

        Hi Sean – when are you going? I want to do a hiking trip myself to japan from around Oct 26th through Nov 9th. Thanks. Denis

  75. Chris Says:

    Hi Wes,

    What a wonderful site you have set up here. i have been frustrated with the lack of info i can find about hiking Japan. I will be landing in Tokyo on the 1st of Dec and am looking for some nice day and multi day hikes to do. I understand it will be winter too. I am a landscape photographer so beauty if what I’m here for :D

    I do have a single person , tent, appropriate clothing, stove etc. Are there any trails that stand out to you? I am easy to go anywhere in Japan.

    Kind Regards,
    Chris N

    • wes Says:


      Many thanks for checking out my site. Unfortunately there’s not much English info out there, so I made the sit to help fill that void. Plenty of people love hiking here, but few put in the time to actually blog about it.

      December is a great time to explore Japan and to do some walks. You should definitely head to the Mt. Fuji area, as winter offers the best place to view the iconic cone. I’d definitely climb Mt. Ryugatake (there’s a link in the Mt. Fuji hikes section). There’s a campground at the base of the mountain as well. It’d be a good place to set up (the campground may actually be closed in the winter, but I don’t think anyone would mind if you set upy= your tent along the shores of Lake Motosu).

      Another area I would recommend is up near Lake Chuzenji in Nikko National Park. Senjo ga hara is an area of welands/grasslands that stretches from Lake Chuzenji to Yumoto Onsen. It’s a landscape photographers dream, and you might be lucky enough to capture the snow-capped beauty of Mt. Okushirane as well. You could also attempt Okushirane depending on your experience (though you would need crampons).

      My friend Peter Skov is a landscape photographer based in Saitama near Tokyo. He would be another good person to contact to get some ideas. Here is his blog:

      The Japan Alps will pretty much be buried under snow by the beginning of December, but there is one area called Yatsugatake that is a very popular place for winter mountaineering. The mountain huts stay open all year round and there are quite a few kamoshika (Japanese serow) in those mountains. They look like mountain goats and are really fascinating creatures.

      And your trip to Japan wouldn’t be complete without a visit to an active volcano. I recommend Mt. Asama, whose crater rim is still off-limits. You can climb to Mt. Maekake, however, and observe the steaming crater up close. Or, you could climb neighboring Mt. Kurofu for a mouth-watering vistas of Asama’s cone. The Asama area also has a lot of Kamoshika and not as many crowds as Yatsu.

      Have you visited my sister site Tozan Tales? Have a look there and you can see my personal write-ups of the mountains. Hiking in Japan gives practical information, while Tozan Tales is my personal narratives when I climbed the mountains. I also enjoy nature photography but I am by no means a professional.

      Also, you can probably catch the tail end of the autumn foliage if you head south to Kyoto and Kansai. The peak is usually around mid-November to the end of November.

      Let me know what other questions you might have. As you can see, there are a lot of options.

  76. vjs Says:

    hi all
    First of all thanks for this website , i am new in hiking, trying for good location near tokyo or shizuoka next month in december can someone give me idea of a nice place where i can enjoy night camping also?

  77. Hi there – this is a great resource – thanks! I want to do some hiking in daisetsuzan in july. I want to do some longer walks (4-10 days) that are very well marked and preferably that have huts (so I don’t have to carry a tent). I have seen some info on the ‘Grand Traverse’, which looks like a great walk. Is it necessary to carry a tent for that walk? can you recommend any other walks in the area?

  78. Brandon Says:

    Great website! Me and some friends are traveling to Tokyo in the beginning of May and we’re looking to do some multi day treks from there, possibly stay in mountain huts along the way. We also were looking to go to Ogawayama and climb there. Any suggestions on trails that will be passable at that time and that can link up to where Ogawayama is? Thank you for your time

  79. StimulatingOpenDebate Says:

    Hi, really useful resource here. Thank you. I wonder if anyone has suggestions for around 14 days walking in Hokkaido. Myself and friends are visiting in July and are looking for find the right hiking itinerary. We were ideally looking for a trail we could follow long-distance i.e. 250 km and cover some diverse terrain. However from research it appears the most significant trail on Hokkaido is Daisetsuzan Grand Traverse. Are there any other suggestions out there?

    • wes Says:

      Yeah, unfortunately there’s no single long-distance trail in Hokkaido. Daisetsuzan is only about 55km, which takes anywhere from 5 to 7 days, depending on your fitness.

      I assume that you are reasonable fit? There’s one more long-distance trail in Hokkaido in the Hidaka mountains. It’s about 100km long and goes through some of the roughest and wildest terrain in Japan. Not many water sources and no mountain huts either. Plenty of brown bears as well. I’ve only done one hike in the range and it was spectacular.

      Here’s a report of someone who did it in
      April in the snow

      • Quinn Burke-Anderson Says:

        I am considering booking a somewhat spur of the moment trip for May 27 – June 6 and have been looking for info like this, Thank you so much!
        Still trying to figure out a good 5-day hike or a couple 2-3 day hike. What would be your top suggestion for this time of year? I love high Alpine hiking.

  80. Juho Says:

    Hi! I’m going in a fit group of 4 persons to hike the Japanese Alps from Tateyama to Kamikochi in the first half of July this year and I was wondering do we need to make advance bookings in the huts along the way in order to make sure we will have half board available every day? I thin local holidays have not started yet which might decrease number of people in the trail.

    If advance booking is required, any ideas how I could do that myself? No guide needed, we have years of high altitude trekking/mountaineering experience and very good gear.

    • wes Says:


      Sorry for the late reply. Usually advance bookings are not necessary, especially if you don’t need meals. If you do require dinner, however, it’s a good idea to call ahead so they can prepare food for you, especially that early in the season when they might be understaffed.

      Where are you starting from? Tateyama? Kamikochi? You can have the tourist information center book accomodation for you on the first night. So, for example, if you start in Kamikochi, then use the tourist information center in Matsumoto (or the one in Kamikochi itself) to call ahead for either Kawasawa or Yari depending on your route. From Tateyama, the tourist info center in Toyama should be able to call one of the huts around Murodo.

      When you check in to the mountain hut on the first night, have the staff call ahead to the next hut along the route to book accommodation for you. They will usually do this for you, since most of the mountain huts are owned by the same company.

      They’ll also be able to tell you about trail conditions as well. Expect a lot of snow in the Tateyama area in early July, and less around Kamikochi in the south. The snow should be soft enough so you won’t need crampons, but I wouldn’t do Tsurugi-dake that early in the season (Tateyama is fine to do however)

  81. Daniel Says:

    I am travelling to Japan in July this year and would love to take on the kamikochi loop. The problem is I will be alone on this stage of my trip and would prefer not to do it alone. Does anyone know of any tour groups or guides that run this trek and take people along for the three days?


    • wes Says:


      A private tour is likely to be out of your budget, but you might want to contact David at Kanto Adventures. He’s a licensed guide from the US who knows those mountains really well.


      • Juho Says:

        Hi! Also my wife and I are planning to do some mountaineering in the Kamikochi and Tateyama area as well as a day trip to Fuji when the weather is favourable. We will be in the area July 6-15. We won’t be hiring a guide but going with GPS pre loaded routes and topo maps. Would you be interested in joining in?

  82. Subhash Says:

    Hi Wes, Really enjoyed reading your work. There is hardly any info in Japan in English when travel is concern and its great to see people like you helping out.
    We needed some help in regards to camping near Mt Fuji, we are carrying our own tent and want to know if we need to make reservations in advance or can we arrive without one. We would be reaching Mt Fuji by 1st week of July from Niseko, been calling lots of campsites but non speak English, hence really lost on which camp sites to go and the booking front.
    If you can help it will be great,
    Thanking you in anticipation,

  83. Gar Says:

    Hi there!

    To echo the others, great resource! It’s already inspired some excellent hikes around Kyushu.

    I am living in southern Japan and am interested in tapping into the Overnight Backpacking scene in Japan. I have been on many day hikes here, but want to do a multi-day hike. To specify, backpacking/trekking not traveling Japan with a backpack. I am form the the Pacific North West of the USA and love getting out for 2-3 day hikes, and would be thrilled to do the same while in Japan. However, between the internet and locals I still haven’t been able to figure much out. You seem rather informed and helfpul so I thought I would drop a line. I am curious, where and how to go. If you could help me get the ball rolling I would be most grateful!


  84. Joao vitor Says:

    Hi my friend, i am a trail running and after a race in miunt adatara i want to do the BEST 3 days hiking on high mountains in japan, aleeping in mountain huts or tents, wich circuit do you recommend?

    • wes Says:


      Which season are you doing the race on Mt. Adatara? The Japan Alps is definitely the best place to spend some time. A great 3-day hike is the Kamikochi loop hike up and over Okuhotaka and through the Daikiretto to Mt. Yari and then back down again to Kamikochi. You could get away with just one night on the mountain if you are in good shape, but it’ll be much more enjoyable if you camp or stay in Hotakadake hut on the first night, followed by Yari hut on the second night. Challenging terrain and excellent scenery if the weather is good. Be careful of typhoons this season though.

  85. Rebecca Says:

    Hi, I’ll be traveling from late November until late Dec with my husband. ​​We’d love a suggestion for a moderate to difficult 2-3 day hike. We did the Tour de Mount Blanc last year, and have some
    experience in the Smokies. We aren’t expert mountaineers by any means, but we are comfortable with anything that doesn’t require crampons or ropes. We’ll be bringing along a tent, so campgrounds along the way would be preferred. Can you think of anything during that season that would fit those criteria? Perhaps there are a pair of sub 9000 ft summits with camping in a valley between them…maybe with limited to no snow in early Dec? Thank you for your time and your wonderful site. Thanks,

  86. Robert Says:

    Good Morning,

    Sitting in Kaladi Brothers coffee shop in Soldotna planning another trip, and enjoying this site. Thank you. Have not put a comment on a site before, but this seems like a good one, so here goes.
    July – August 2017 am hoping to do Fuji for the sunrise, then go on the Kumano Kodo for the rest of my time. Enjoy blending in, but may not be as able to in Japan as easily as Europe or S America. Pretty much English is my only language a bit embarrassed to say.

    Have not been to Japan, so open to advice; as is it best to fly into Tokyo or Osaka? I think I’d like to go up Fuji first then head out to the Kumodo Kodo. I’d guess I would take the shinkhansen? Early planning and saw this site.

    Open to insights on anything from flights to the Kumano Kodo. May only have 7-10 days on the Kumano Kodo after Fuji. Maybe other recommendations?

    Went on the Stevenson Trail in the Cevennes after reading Travels With a Donkey. Did not know anyone, did not speak French, had a 100+ year old copy of RLS’s book with…excellent experience. Went alone as usual (didn’t really tell anyone before or after either…not on Facebook or any site of any kind…when my neice heard about my France trip via her mum replied “Heard you pulled a Walter Mitty again.”), and like RLS stated, enjoy soliitude but open for companionship…

    Have a little 3000ft mountain here in Alaska on the Kenai Peninsula I hike each weekend, year round, so am in pretty good shape. Had tent, sleeping bag, etc., with in France. Would that be something to bring on the Kumano Kodo?

    Thank you,


    • Rosalind Allingham Says:

      I did the Kumano Kodo Nakahechi Route in early April this year (2016). Even though it rained every day, it was the most marvellous experience. Birdsong in the rain was the most beautiful I’d ever heard. While that route is becoming busier with the well-advertised Camino sister trail, it’s still possible to enjoy solitary time on the trail. The accommodation was (with one exception) fantastic.
      The best website for is Kumano Travel: http://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/kumano-travel/. Best travel website I’ve ever seen. I started by looking up all the commercial tours in that area, picking out what appeared to be the key ‘must-visit’ places, then did all my bookings through Kumano Travel at a fraction of the cost. Below is a link to my Kumano photos on Flickr.


      Have a great trip! Rosalind, Melbourne, Australia.

    • Rosalind Allingham Says:

      Kumano Kodo, Nakahechi Route. A gem.


  87. Andreas Says:

    Hi Wes et al,
    I have a week off in mid December and am looking to do some winter trekking in East Asia. Japan came up as a great alternative, but it’s difficult to find the necessary information.

    I’m looking for a 5-6 nights trek that can be done without guide and would be staying in a tent along the way. I realise this question is similar to Chris’ from last year, but can’t find any continuous hikes in the replies. Would you have any suggestions for me?

    I have previously done long (weeks) self-supported mountain winter trips, but that has been with skis and pull rather than walking. I don’t have any experience of routes requiring ropes.

    Many thanks in advance,

  88. Nancy Says:

    Thank you for the site. I love hiking and planning a trip to Okinawa and it was so difficult to find information on hiking trails. Thanks so much.

  89. kelvin Says:

    I just discovered this site…and need to spend some time going through it in preparation for our trip in late April-late May…is there a place on here or do you know of a place where one can get hiking trail maps in english? or a place where trails are listed by length, duration and/or level of difficulty?

    We’d probably be looking at hikes around Tokyo, Kyoto, Nagano Pref, Shikoku, and possibly Kyushu…

  90. Hi Hikers,

    There’s so much info on this site, I don’t know where to start! :D

    I’m going to Japan 24 March – 13 April and the problem I’m facing is that a lot of the trails are closed due winter season.
    Is there anyone who knows a nice trail in during that time? I like full day hikes.

    Thank you so much!


  91. Indra Shaltiel Says:

    Hey there,

    I’ve been looking into doing a two (maybe three)-day solo hike in Yamagata/Miyagi prefectures in mid-June. Mount Asahi or Iide sound pretty nice, but I’d like to avoid having to plow through too much snow and would love to be able to leave out a tent as well. I guess mid-June will then be too early for either of those. Could anyone suggest me an alternative?

    • wes Says:


      I think mid-June is too early for Asahi or Iide, as there will still be quite a bit of snow.

      You could consider travering Mt. Zao on the border of Yamagata and Miyagi. There are several mountain huts in the range that offer free accommodation (you need sleeping bags and stoves/food to cook and also water).

      Also, the rainy season in Japan usually starts in mid-June, so that is something else to consider.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.



  92. Mickey Flynn Says:

    Hi, Wes.

    Thank you for this great website and also for your Tozan Tales website. On May 8, my wife, daughter and I intend to walk the Kumano Kodo (I’m hoping to ease my wife into hiking), and then, on May 14, we will be in my wife’s hometown, Nagaoka, Niigata. We are fit and have cold weather clothing, tents, and microspikes, but, as we are not experienced winter climbers, we wonder which mountains we can safely hike (and perhaps camp on) without needing crampons, ice axe, or snowshoes in the middle of May? We have Japan rail passes, so we can get around on JR (far out of Niigata, if need be) and, if we need to, I could rent a car and drive. We return to Guam on May 22. Thank you for any guidance or suggestions that you can offer!


    • wes Says:


      Sorry for the late reply.

      Yeah, most of the mountains in Niigata will still be snow-capped, so you’ll need to head further south or west to find things that are approachable without winter hiking gear.

      The mountains of Kyushu and Shikoku will be free of snow in mid-May, as well as mountains at lower elevations in Gunma Prefecture and Nagano.

      One option might be to head to Togakushi Kogen in Nagano. It’s just north of Nagano city. Mt. Togakushi will still be snow-capped, but Togakushi shrine will be accessible. It’s a really beautiful place and well worth a visit. The forests around the shrine are really nice, with alpine flowers and plenty of bears.

      If you want to climb a mountain instead of just doing relatively flat hikes, then you could consider heading down near Lake Kawaguchi (and Mt. Fuji) and do some hikes with views of Fuji. The peaks around the lakes there are quite rugged, but Mt. Ryuu should be enjoyable for the family.

      Anyway, I hope that helps. Let me know if you have other questions.



  93. Mickey Flynn Says:

    Wes, you are great! I really appreciate your help!

    All the best,


  94. Will Nettles Says:

    I would really like to see an experienced hiker who knows Japan really well, but also other places, like the US, Canada, European Alps. I know the US, Canada, China, and spent two months last year hiking in Japan. The Japanese trails seemed intentionally designed to be as difficult as possible. Miles of trails seemed intentionally made to be like boulder hopping across a stream in the US. Kamikochi coming down the valley, beautiful forest but if you looked around as you walked, you’d end up falling down. Once I reached the main tourist areas, no problems, but 100 meters into any real hike, walking immediately became difficult. Some places, climbs, OK. But some trials went straight up and down slopes and were eroded to the boulders. Lonely Planet’s Hiking in Japan, numerous people I’ve met, reviews online, say–this book could get you killed. I agree, but it was useful, and I’d not have gone to half the places I went without it. Part of the problem is I think a lot of the trail times were estimates, and reading it, there is no hint how different the Japanese trails are. The Japanese maps I found were excellent. The times on them very accurate. 1.4 km 3:45 that’s almost four hours. Yep.
    I also walked on the old Kiso road near Magome, it’s pretty bad too. Not bad as in don’t go there, but like slippery stones on slopes, uneven stone paths. In China I was a walking monster, no body could keep up with me, the trails, even farm trails in the mountains were just like similar trails in the US and Canada. In Japan, I was often the slowest person on the trail, not because everyone was a young mountain climber, but because they were used to the trails. This always amazed me.
    Bears. In Shiretoko I did the two day Traverse. In the back country a bush started moving like something big was behind it. I started talking to the bear, telling him what I was doing. The bush stopped moving, no bear emerged, but it wasn’t until the next day that I was convinced it had been a bear. It was hiding from me? Bears don’t hide from people. The next day from a boat I saw a large bear run away when it saw a kayaker. Japan does have a lot of bears, I’ve seen sign, but not many bears. So they have to be a consideration. You do feel silly after a hike and there was no sign of bears. (And fellow nerds: you are not the first guy to think of wearing two bells to sound like two people… It’s probably still a good idea). There are also a lot of bear attacks and fatalities in Japan, but usually it’s people who are picking wild rushes or something that are the bear’s food. The other thing about Japan is that every single dog you will see, will be the best behaved and quietest dog. They don’t have the same level of experience Americans have had with aggressive dogs, dangerous people. So Americans crossing paths with bears in Japan have a significant advantage. Don’t back down, don’t turn around, but move away and make it clear you’re moving away, and the eye that’s watching the bear is not passive (maybe that’s just from growing up in Detroit) but it is only one eye…

  95. Henry Says:

    Hi Wes,

    Planning to South Alps next month, I’m now confusing about the mountain huts reservation. The huts said reservation is a must if hikers want to stay for a night. However not many huts have website to make reservation, I cannot make a phone call oversea and even I cannot speak Japanese. So, could you recommend what can I do about the reservation?

    Thanks for giving me a hand.

    • wes Says:


      Which mountain huts are you planning to stay in particular? Not all of them require an advanced reservation, but a lot of them do. I can tell you exactly which ones you need to contact to make a booking.

      Unfortunately mountain huts do not accept online bookings and when you visit them you will understand the reason. They are very remote and some of them do not receive telephone reception, so booking are done in town and relayed to them via walkie talkie.

      The only way to make a booking is to have someone call them directly. You can try having the tourist information center call for you when you arrive in Japan, or perhaps the front desk of a hotel where you are staying. The final option would be to have a Japanese speaker make the call for you. A lot of the mountain hut staff do not speak English so you will need to learn to communicate using gestures and very simple English.

      If you are planning on camping then no prior reservations are necessary at the mountain huts. You can just show up and pay the camping fee upon arriving at the hut.

      I hope that is helpful.



      • Henry Says:

        Hi Wes,

        I’m planning to the Southern Alps. Checked the huts almost I will stay are strictly required to reserve. It is a good idea to ask for front desk of a hotel’s help to make it when arriving Japan. Just a little bit worry if it is too late to reserve (just few days before the day I stay). But luckily that the days are not Japan’s holiday.

        Anyway, thanks for your suggestion.


  96. Michael V Says:

    Hi Wes – this is such an amazing website. Thank you!

    My partner and I are travelling to Japan in the beginning of May and would like to do a 3-4 day hike, around 10 May. We wanted to do the Yari-Hotaka traverse (or something at that level), but we realise that there could still be snow. We would like to avoid bringing crampons and a load of gear with us.

    We would be grateful if you could recommend a multi-day trek around this level (or slightly easier) that is appropriate for this time of year. We’re climbers and experienced hikers.

    I’ve looked into treks in Hokkaido and the Japanese alps and I’m conscious that we may be visiting too early in the season for mountains in these areas.

    Any insight you could offer would be much appreciated!

    Many thanks

    • wes Says:


      Thanks for checking out my website.

      To answer your questions:

      Yes, mid-May is very early in the season to be attempting the Yari-Hotaka traverse, as there will still be fresh snowfall on the trail and avalanche danger. Most people don’t traverse in May and end up doing climbs of Hotaka and Yari separately. The huts are all open in mid-May though, which gives some people a false sense of security and leads to fatalities every year. You’d definitely need full crampons and an ice axe.

      One option you may want to consider is to head south to Kyushu and do a traverse of the Kuju mountains. It’s a range of active volcanoes and beautiful crater lakes and red azalea flowers.

      Or you could do a full traverse of the Yatsugatake range. There will still be a bit of snow in mid-May, but most of the alpine ridge will be free of snow. You could start at Mt. Tateshina in the north and go all the way south over Akadake. It’s a pretty beautiful area and a strenuous traverse.

      Let me know if you would like further information.



  97. Marijoy Tibay Says:

    Hi Wes,

    My brother, sister and I are planning on hiking the Daisetsuzan Grand Traverse in late August-early September 2018 and are having trouble finding information on the hike in english. So far, we’ve read through quite a few blogs documenting other hikers’ experiences and I’ve bought the notoriously poorly-documented Lonely Planet book ‘Hiking in Japan’ (1st edition since the 2nd was insanely expensive) for guidance. There’s still quite a few holes in our plans and I was hoping you’d be able to help answer some questions.

    1. We’re planning on hiking the traverse south to north since it seems there’s more of an issue finding water in the southern portion of the park. We’d like to be able to check in with park rangers on weather and trail conditions – is it possible to get information/speak to rangers at Asahikawa or at Tokachidake onsen? It seems like the visitors centers were only at the northern end of the park at Asahidake and Kurodake.

    2. Is it recommended that we make reservations at the (start/end) onsens in advance? Not knowing if we’re going to have to leave the route early or if due to conditions we’ll ultimately have to travel N->S, we’d prefer to avoid booking in advance.

    3. Are there any lockers for long-term storage at New Chitose Airport or any of the main train stations (Asahikawa)?

    Any help you can provide would be much appreciated!


    • wes Says:


      Thanks for checking out my website. I have done the full traverse and will be happy to answer your questions.

      1) Daisetsuzan does not have park rangers. There aren’t any park rangers in Japan’s national parks, but there are knowledgable people at the tourist information counters. There’s a good tourist information center near Asahikawa station and also Furano station. They’ll be able to book accommodation for you there and can give you detailed weather forecasts. The weather tends to be really rainy in August in the Daisetsu mountains, and a bit more stable as you get into September and the autumn colors.

      2) Reservations are essential at Asahidake onsen since it is a very popular destination. Carry the phone number with you and call a couple of days in advance if you can. Accommodation at Tokachi is also better to be booked in advance if you can. Even 1 day in advance will be helpful to let the staff know you are arriving. Like I said, the tourist information counters are usually very helpful. Recently there has been a huge influx of foreign tourists into Asahikawa and Furano, and I have heard that the counters are understaffed and overcrowded, so hopefully that won’t be the case when you visit.

      3) There are coin lockers at both the airport and Asahikawa stations. Most of them are only valid for 24 hours, however. After that you have to pay extra money into the coin locker to retrieve you luggage. Some coin lockers do not allow long-term storage and the staff will clear them out if left for longer than 24 hours. The coin lockers are usually only designed for day use. The best solution is to see if you can leave your luggage in the lobby of the hotel in which you are staying for a small fee. Most big hotels will allow this if you have made an advanced reservation.

      Other advice:
      The full traverse is LONG and TOUGH. Lonely Planet recommends 5 days but this is only for very fit and very fast hikers. Most people take over 1 week to do the traverse. I did it in 5 days but those were very long days (12 hours on the trail, about 20km per day) over mixed rock/snow in alpine conditions (full exposure to the wind/rain and no trees in which to take cover). People do die up there every summer from hypothermia/exhaustion, so you need to be prepared with adequate clothing, fitness, and hydration. All water needs to be boiled on the route in order to avoid a deadly parasite.

      Please let me know if you have any other questions.



  98. Hi Wes,

    I am writing you in hopes that you can help me. I am a writer. I have never been to Japan, but I find my story is taking me there. So, I was wondering if you might be able to help me. I have a character, living in Tokoyo who needs to hike from Tokyo to the West Coast of Japan. Ultimately, his goal is to hike from Japan to Scandinavia. But first I need to figure out his best route from Tokyo to the West coast of Japan. I need to know the fastest way for an experienced, in shape hiker to get there. What would the terrain be like? What could he possibly encounter a long the way? Any ideas?

  99. Katya Says:

    Hello Wes,
    Thank you for putting together such a comprehensive site.
    I was hoping to get in touch with you to help plan a trip. I have contacted Chris and waiting for his reply.
    If this is not something you are able to assist perhaps you can recommend another person/firm.

    Thank you,

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