Japon

Description

Sanbyakumeizan

Japan is an exciting country for hiking. Walking comes in all flavors: volcanoes, pilgrimages, trails thousands of kilometers long, alpine hikes and climbs. Main difficulty is the language. Information in English is hard to find. You might get the impression that hiking in Japan is no option. Totally wrong - read on!

Let's do a little research first: what's the geography like? Japan is about the size of Germany, a bit larger, but the population is 1,5 times as large. 127-million people are crammed together on 35% of the land surface, 65% being rugged mountain area. You've got the opportunities, right?

The country counts four large islands and countless smaller ones. These main islands are, from northeast to southwest:

  • Hokkaidō, the mountainous island in the north. This island tips the Russian Island of Sakhalin
  • Honshū, the main island in the middle, including Osaka and Tokyo
  • Kyūshū, the westernmost island
  • Shikoku, the island that squeezes in between Honshū and Kyūshū

These islands span some 20 degrees in longitude, from the chilly north to the subtropical south! Nature imposes itself mercilessly. On the one hand, Japan exists thanks to the collision of continental shelves. This means, on the other hand, exploding volcanoes and earthquakes. Also, in everyday life Japanese have to cope with typhoons and tsunamis. Nature has enjoyments to offer as well: exuberant colors in autumn, blossoming in spring, wild animals like bears, wild fruits and vegetables...

Hyakumaizan

Politically Japan is divided into 9 regions and 47 prefectures. Let's have a closer look at them. In the centre of the country lies Tokyo, on the main island of Honshu. The Greater Tokyo Area houses 35-million people. This region, Kanto, is rather flat, but even here hiking trails can be found. To the west of Kanto lies the Chubu region, not far from the population centers. This is the region with the highest and wildest mountains, known in the West as the Japanese Alps. Mountains do not rise up higher than 4.000 m in Japan, but their often volcanic origins makes them wild and varied. Not far south of the capital is famous Mount Fuji – Fuji-san, 3776 m – Japan's highest. To the north of the country's mountainous centre lies Tohoku region and finally the island of Hokkaido, the second largest island. Its relatively cool and dry climate, quiet and mountainous, makes it interesting for hiking. To the south of Tokyo and the Chubu region, the main Honshu island continues for a while, less mountainous though. Then we reach the island of Shikoku, island of pilgrimages, half enclosed by Honshu. And in the far west is the island of Kyushu, again mountainous, the elements from below causing havoc (and nice hot springs!). This makes for good hiking, but with a warm and humid climate.

Talking about the climate: the north of the country and the mountains are snow covered in winter. Hiking in this season is still feasible in the south. In summer, Hokkaido in the north is pleasant and not too wet, whereas the rest of Japan is hot and humid. Between June and July, a monsoon works its way from south to north. In large parts of Japan, spring and autumn are best for hiking. Summer is best for the mountains.

Shikoku 88 Temple Trail

Hiking comes in different shapes in Japan. Let's start with the traditional pilgrimages and old imperial roads. These are popular with foreigners. The two months hike on Shikoku, passing 88 temples, is well known, as is the old highway between Kyoto and Tokyo, the Nakasendo Trail. Tour operators will offer their services like luggage transportation and hotel reservations.

But don't forget: the country has an extensive system of long distance trails, the so called Nature Trails, 自然歩道. Popular with Japanese, hardly known abroad, there are nine of them, totaling to 26.000 km. The system was an initiative of the central government dating from around 1970, with the purpose of providing a means for experiencing nature and culture in a healthy and safe manner. The prefectures are upkeeping the trails and providing hiking maps. Usually, the Japanese use Nature Trails for day trips, picking out sections, often around 15 km. These sections are situated in such a way that they can be reached by public transport. The different sections do not always form a continuous trail. On the contrary, in places the system looks more like a fragmented chromosome. Completing all the sections is an honorable goal, rewarded with a medal if proper proof is submitted to the prefecture. The trails are well marked, but mainly in Japanese of course. Hiking the Nature Trails is a perfect way to explore all the corners and backyards of the country, cities and mountains alike.

Nihyakumeizan

Mountain tramping is popular with the Japanese and foreign visitors. Main focus is reaching the top. The Japanese variant of peak bagging is very popular indeed: the 100 Famous Mountains - Hyukameizan 百名山. To check them all, and possibly fast, is a major achievement. Should you run out of mountains, there is always a list of 200 and even 300 famous mountains. Hiking maps are available in the larger bookstores (see below) Many mountain huts are at your service. Generally these are private huts, not cheap, but good, offering linen (blankets) and dinner. They might be crowded, but not full. The day starts early in these huts. Breakfast sometimes as early as 4.30 am and dinner at 5.00 pm.

Talking about accommodation, it's time to mention some other options for the night. The long distance hiker often uses the Minshuku, a kind of private accommodation, like B&B with often dinner included. Another popular choice is the Ryokan, the traditional Japanese hotel. Popular, especially on the pilgrimage ways, are the temple lodges, Shuboku, offering good value. In any case, do make reservations in advance! Your host will appreciate this very much. Remember dinner is normally included and will be prepared unless explicitly agreed otherwise.

A strategy guide for hiking in the mountains

If you are amidst the noise and chaos of Shinjuku Station in Tokyo, it is hard to fancy how to ever get out into the countryside. Information in English on hiking in the Japanese mountains is scarce and the people around you will speak little if any English. So, how to get started ? Just try the following strategy:

  1. First, determine where you want to go, which island, which mountain area. Use Traildino for a rough idea, or consult the excellent Lonely Planet Guide for Hiking in Japan. The hikes described in the Lonely Planet are a small selection of the many possible trails in the mountains. Mountain areas have a network of trails, like in the European Alps.
  2. Now, buy the 1:50.000 map of the area of your choice. Best known are maps of Mapple (http://yamachizu.mapple.net/) and you will find them in the larger bookshops of the larger cities, who usually have the complete series on stock. Sometimes you can also find the 1:25.000 topographical maps, but even if they show more detail, they do not provide any specific hiking information.
  3. Run into the nearest Starbucks and relax while giving the map a thorough study. These maps are great: trails are marked, hiking times are indicated, huts are marked, difficult passages are indicated. Now, try to imagine your own multi day tramp.
  4. With this rough idea of your hike - your destination, the time you will spent there, your trailhead - you have to figure out how to get there, and get out in the end. The area overview on the back of the 1:50.000 maps will come in handy. Somebody has to help you now, and this somebody is of course the helpful Tourist Information Centre. You will find these great English speaking people in most cities, often also in a railway station, and they love to help you. Ask them how to get to your destination, whether there are any connecting buses, how much time the journey will take. If you need a stop halfway your starting point, the TIC is glad to arrange your hotel. Also ask them whether the huts are open (they will Google it for you) and maybe they will contact the first hut as well (always a good idea).
  5. Things can't go wrong now. So rush into the green ticket window of Japan Railways and buy your ticket. If there are more traveling options, the counterman will help you out.
  6. Last but not least: take lots of cash with you. You will spend more than 10.000 Yen (100 euro, 115 dollar) per person every day in the mountains, because the huts are expensive.
  7. Just some last advice. Compile a neat table for your own use. On the left side, write down your complete itinerary, including huts, lakes, mountains you will pass etc. On the right site, put down the same information in Japanese (that is: Kanji characters). You can do it using internet, copying and pasting the Japanese names into some text document. This list will come in handy if you need to ask someone the right way, if you want to explain where you're going or if you like to understand the signs on the trail. Once in the mountains, you will find all kind of brochures and information in the huts themselves, including opening times, ski lifts, etc. etc.

Strategy guide for Nature Trails

Hiking in the Japanes mountains is something you will be able to figure out in the end, because people will understand what you want. However, if you rather hike some parts of the Nature Trails system, information is harder to get. Basically, the problem is that foreigners never take these trails, and people will not understand your intentions. Nonetheless, the Nature Trails will be a fine alternative in winter and spring, when mountains are snow covered, or any time of the year if you like to become acquainted with a different Japan.

So, how to get started on the Nature Trails?

  1. It is pretty useless to inquire in bookshops or the Tourist Information Centre on these Nature Trails. The probability they will understand you, is low. A better idea is to make a print of the website of the Ministry of Environment on these nature trails (http://www.env.go.jp/nature/nats/shizenhodo). This makes communication much easier.
  2. Be aware that the maps of the Nature Trails are the responsibility of each individual Perfecture. So, if you want to hike near Tokyo, the place to find the maps is the administration of the Tokyo Metropolitan Area.
  3. But better not go there straight away. You run the risk that nobody will understand you. Better you find someone to help you contacting the Prefecture administration. And this someone of course is the Tourist Information Centre. Armed with the website printout, ask the TIC if they will contact the administration and ask for the department responsible for the Nature Trails and the publication of the maps. Most likely, this introduction will be sufficient to get entry to the right department and right person, who will collect the necessary maps for you.
  4. Since the maps are in Japanese only, you will need a good deal of fantasy to figure out what all the symbols mean, how to interpret the distances, how to recognise the waymarking. Part of the fun.
  5. But in the end, once you've got a basic visualisation of your hike, you will need help again. So return to the kind people of the TIC, and ask them to contact the hotels en route, and let them make reservations. It's unwise to just knock on the door of your night address on arrival, without notice.

We will be delighted to get feedback from you on this issue, to make this page even better.

Evaluations

Evaluation 10.0 | 1 vote | No 1. en Asie
  • Muresco Septembre 2011
  • Evaluation 10
  • Positive I liked the Variety , the people we met & the friendly nature of JApan
  • Negative September was very hot & at times wet.
Plus d'opinions…

Carte

Japan North

Japan South

Sentiers

Régions

Montagnes

Livres

The Book Depository
United Kingdom
The Book Depository
United Kingdom
De Zwerver
Netherlands
2018
  • Reisgids City Guide Kyoto | Lonely Planet
  • De perfecte reisgids voor zowel de georganiseerde als de zelfstandige reiziger. Naast een algemene inleiding van de stad vol met praktische informatie over hoe je er het beste kunt reizen: slapen, eten, vervoer, excursies ... alles kun je er in vinden. Nu met pull-out map! Kyoto is old Japan writ large: atmospheric temples, sublime gardens,... Lire la suite
De Zwerver
Netherlands
2017
  • Reisgids Eyewitness Travel Tokyo | DK
  • Prachtig geillustreerde reisgids met o.a. 3D tekeningen, fraaie kaarten en geweldige foto’s. Daarnaast uitgebreide achtergrondbeschrijvingen. Echt om in de stemming te komen! Groot formaat gids. Engelstalig The DK Eyewitness Tokyo Travel Guide will lead you straight to the best attractions Tokyo has to offer. The guide includes unique cutaways,... Lire la suite
Bol.com
Netherlands
  • Noto, an Unexplored Corner of Japan
  • Toward the middle of the afternoon we reached a part of the coast locally famous or infamous, for the two were one; a stretch of some miles where the mountains made no apology for falling abruptly into the sea. Sheer for several hundred feet, the shore is here unscalable. Nor did it use to be possible to go round by land, for the cliffs are... Lire la suite
  • Also available from:
  • Bol.com, Belgium
» Click to open
Bol.com
Belgium
  • Noto, an Unexplored Corner of Japan
  • Toward the middle of the afternoon we reached a part of the coast locally famous or infamous, for the two were one; a stretch of some miles where the mountains made no apology for falling abruptly into the sea. Sheer for several hundred feet, the shore is here unscalable. Nor did it use to be possible to go round by land, for the cliffs are... Lire la suite
» Click to close
De Zwerver
Netherlands
2017
  • Reisgids Pocket guides Kyoto & Osaka | Lonely Planet
  • Klein compact stadgidsje voor Kyoto en Osaka met alle essentiele informatie voor een paar dagen. Eten & drinken, Accomodaties en bezienswaardigheden. Met stadsplattegrond. Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher Lonely Planet Pocket Kyoto & Osaka is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip,... Lire la suite
Bol.com
Netherlands
  • Misty-Min
  • A story of one mans journey trying to find his lost family. The mountain of Fiji erupted and destroyed most of Japan while he was off the island. He returned , his family wasn't to be found so he sets out on a journey and after weeks of searching he has to return home. Did he find his family...read the book. Lire la suite
  • Also available from:
  • Bol.com, Belgium
» Click to open
Bol.com
Belgium
  • Misty-Min
  • A story of one mans journey trying to find his lost family. The mountain of Fiji erupted and destroyed most of Japan while he was off the island. He returned , his family wasn't to be found so he sets out on a journey and after weeks of searching he has to return home. Did he find his family...read the book. Lire la suite
» Click to close
De Zwerver
Netherlands
2018
  • Reisgids Trotter Japan | Lannoo
  • Trotter Japan is een originele reisgids met een eigen mening en persoonlijkheid. Trotter houdt geen cliché's in stand, maar biedt de individuele reiziger een persoonlijke visie. De traditionele trekpleisters worden verfrissend beschreven en ongekende schatten worden geopenbaard. De selectie van hotels en restaurants is uniek en de hoeveelheid... Lire la suite
Bol.com
Netherlands
  • Musings of a Budo Bum
  • ''The techniques are really a vessel for carrying all the things that are budo...'' Most books about martial arts (budo) focus on techniques, although some tell the history, and a few wax philosophical. It is rare indeed to discover a book that so fluently combines all this within the broader context of culture and lifestyle, and does so in... Lire la suite
  • Also available from:
  • Bol.com, Belgium
» Click to open
Bol.com
Belgium
  • Musings of a Budo Bum
  • ''The techniques are really a vessel for carrying all the things that are budo...'' Most books about martial arts (budo) focus on techniques, although some tell the history, and a few wax philosophical. It is rare indeed to discover a book that so fluently combines all this within the broader context of culture and lifestyle, and does so in... Lire la suite
» Click to close
Bol.com
Netherlands
  • The Fight for Maglev
  • The Fight for Maglev tells how Maglev, the first new transport mode since the airplane, will soon transform transportation in America and the World. 300 mph magnetically levitated and propelled vehicles have no engine, do not burn oil, do not emit pollutants and greenhouse gases, and are very quiet and comfortable. They carry passengers,... Lire la suite
  • Also available from:
  • Bol.com, Belgium
» Click to open
Bol.com
Belgium
  • The Fight for Maglev
  • The Fight for Maglev tells how Maglev, the first new transport mode since the airplane, will soon transform transportation in America and the World. 300 mph magnetically levitated and propelled vehicles have no engine, do not burn oil, do not emit pollutants and greenhouse gases, and are very quiet and comfortable. They carry passengers,... Lire la suite
» Click to close
Bol.com
Netherlands
  • 2016 Calendar - Japan Outdoor Photos - U.S.A. Version
  • A 2016 Calendar showing 12 photos of Japan Outdoor Scenery, primarily mountain scenery. This U.S.A. Version shows the National Holidays of the United States of America and is therefore intended for use in the U.S.A.Full Moon dates are shown for each month as a symbol similar to a ''smiley''. At the end of the calendar you can find a complete... Lire la suite
  • Also available from:
  • Bol.com, Belgium
» Click to open
Bol.com
Belgium
  • 2016 Calendar - Japan Outdoor Photos - U.S.A. Version
  • A 2016 Calendar showing 12 photos of Japan Outdoor Scenery, primarily mountain scenery. This U.S.A. Version shows the National Holidays of the United States of America and is therefore intended for use in the U.S.A.Full Moon dates are shown for each month as a symbol similar to a ''smiley''. At the end of the calendar you can find a complete... Lire la suite
» Click to close
De Zwerver
Netherlands
2016
  • Reisgids ANWB Ontdek Japan | ANWB Media
  • Een nieuwe ANWB reisgids: deze titel is een vertaling van de Duitstalige Dumont reeks. Ze staan bekend als zeer degelijke en behoorlijk complete reisgisden in compact formaat met uitklapkaart. Met zowel veel achtergrondinformatie, maar ook veel tips over bezienswaardigheden en adressen voor bijvoorbeeld eten en drinken. Het boek is ook nog... Lire la suite
Bol.com
Netherlands
  • Tobias Madorin - Topos
  • For more than 20 years, photographic artist Tobias Madorin has been working on his series Topos. Metropolises like Barcelona and Sao Paulo, a Swiss mountain resort like Grindelwald, or foreign countries like Uganda, Indonesia and Japan: with his large scale images he explores dwellings and landscapes. Madorin creates tableaux, similar to... Lire la suite
  • Also available from:
  • Bol.com, Belgium
» Click to open
Bol.com
Belgium
  • Tobias Madorin - Topos
  • For more than 20 years, photographic artist Tobias Madorin has been working on his series Topos. Metropolises like Barcelona and Sao Paulo, a Swiss mountain resort like Grindelwald, or foreign countries like Uganda, Indonesia and Japan: with his large scale images he explores dwellings and landscapes. Madorin creates tableaux, similar to... Lire la suite
» Click to close
De Zwerver
Netherlands
2016
  • Reisgids Japan by Rail | Trailblazer
  • Treinreishandboek van Japan, met beschrijvingen en praktische informatie over alle belangrijke spoorwegen en de steden onderweg, dwars door Japan (treinreizen) Japan is steeped in legend and myth, perhaps the greatest of which is the popular misconception that the country is simply too expensive to visit. The truth is that flights to Japan are... Lire la suite
Bol.com
Netherlands
  • Japan Outdoor Scenes 2015 Calendar - International Version
  • A 2015 Calendar showing 12 photos of Japan Outdoor Scenery, primarily mountain scenery. This International Version shows no national holidays and is therefore good for worldwide use.Full Moon dates are shown for each month as a symbol similar to a "smiley". The full moon dates shown could be off by a day for your specific location in the world.... Lire la suite
  • Also available from:
  • Bol.com, Belgium
» Click to open
Bol.com
Belgium
  • Japan Outdoor Scenes 2015 Calendar - International Version
  • A 2015 Calendar showing 12 photos of Japan Outdoor Scenery, primarily mountain scenery. This International Version shows no national holidays and is therefore good for worldwide use.Full Moon dates are shown for each month as a symbol similar to a "smiley". The full moon dates shown could be off by a day for your specific location in the world.... Lire la suite
» Click to close
Plus de livres …

Cartes

Kompass
Germany
  • MARCO POLO Kontinentalkarte Japan, Korea 1:2 000 000
  • Entdecken Sie mit dieser MARCO POLO Karte das Land der Tradition und Moderne . . . Die Karten bestechen durch eine leicht lesbare, neue Kartografie, in der durchgängig landschaftlich schöne Strecken und Orte markiert sind. Schon in der im Kartendeckel befindlichen, ausklappbaren Übersichtskarte sind die schönsten Orte mit Highlightsternen... Lire la suite
De Zwerver
Netherlands
Plus de cartes …

Walking holidays

Snp Wandelreizen
Netherlands
  • Japan - Wandel- en Cultuurrondreis
  • Japan, het land van hoogbouw, hightech en neonlicht. Waar identiek geklede “salarymen” in supersnelle “bullet-trains” naar hun werk reizen en de Nikkei-index tot nationale geluksgraadmeter is verklaard. Maar het Land van de Rijzende Zon is ook het land van Zen, Shinto en 'Wa', een begrip dat ingetogenheid, eenvoud en harmonie in zich draagt. Wa... Lire la suite
Macs Adventure
United Kingdom
  • Kumano Kodo Trail (Walk only) Self Guided Walking Holiday
  • Self guided village to village walk on the Kumano Kodo trail to the Kumano shrines on the Kii Peninsula. Walk the 11th century Kumano Kodo pilgrim’s trail through rural Japan to the three grand shrines of Kumano, staying overnight in traditional Japanese minshuku and ryokan. Perfect if you are making your own arrangements as part of a longer... Lire la suite
Snp Wandelreizen
Netherlands
  • Japan - Japanse Alpen en Hokkaido
  • Van modern tot shintoïsme, van ruige kusten tot gemanicuurde kasteeltuinen en van de Japanse Alpen op Honshu tot Japan’s laatste wildernis op het noordelijke eiland Hokkaido. Japan is en blijft een land van contrasten. De nieuwe individuele Japan wandel- en cultuurreis voert je langs alpiene flora, herfstkleuren en weidse uitzichten. Met... Lire la suite
Macs Adventure
United Kingdom
  • Nakasendo Trail, Tokyo, Kyoto, Mount Koya & Nara
  • Combine four days of walking along the Nakasendo Trail with time to explore Japans' highlights; vibrant Tokyo, ancient Nara, Mount Koya & Nara. Combine four days of walking along the Nakasendo Trail with time to explore Japans' highlights; vibrant Tokyo, ancient Nara, Mount Koya & Nara. You’ll discover the highlights of Japan over 11 days,... Lire la suite
Macs Adventure
United Kingdom
  • Nakasendo Trail - Kyoto to Tokyo Self Guided Walking Holiday
  • Walk the Nakasendo Way through rural Japan from Kyoto to Tokyo. Walk the Nakasendo Way through rural Japan from Kyoto to Tokyo. A route used since feudal times the Nakasendo Trail, one of a network of ancient highways, linked Kyoto and Tokyo through the central mountains. Travellers would rest each night at juku - post towns - and today it is... Lire la suite
Macs Adventure
United Kingdom
  • Kumano Kodo - Kyoto to Osaka Self Guided Walking Holiday
  • Self guided village to village walk on the Kumano Kodo trail to the Kumano shrines on the Kii Peninsula. Walk the 11th century Kumano Kodo pilgrim’s trail through rural Japan , staying overnight in traditional Japanese minshuku and ryokan. To complete your experience of Japan your trip begins with two nights in Kyoto, and finishes with a night... Lire la suite
Macs Adventure
United Kingdom
  • Nakasendo Trail Self Guided Walking Holiday
  • Walk the Nakasendo Way through rural Japan from Kyoto to Tokyo. Walk The Nakasendo Trail, a route used since feudal times and part of a network of ancient highways which links Kyoto and Tokyo through the central mountains. This tour includes only the walking section of our longer Nakasendo Trail from Kyoto to Tokyo and starts on day 1 when... Lire la suite
Macs Adventure
United Kingdom
  • Shikoku Pilgrimage Trail
  • Self guided walking on thhe Shikoku 88 Temple trail including time spent in the cities of Kyoto and Osaka. Walk the highlights of the 88 Temple pilgrimage trail on the island of Shikoku. Starting in Kyoto and ending in Osaka, this tour brings together the best of Japan; city life and peaceful rural walking. Follow trails to ancient Buddhist... Lire la suite
Macs Adventure
United Kingdom
  • Shikoku Pilgrimage Trail Walk Only
  • Self guided walking on the Shikoku 88 Temple trail. Walk the highlights of the 88 Temple pilgrimage trail on the island of Shikoku. This tour includes only the walking section of our longer Shikoku Pilgrimage Trail itinerary. Catch the train/bus from Osaka or Kyoto to Tokushima, where your 5 day walk on Shikoku begins. Follow trails to... Lire la suite
More walking holidays…

Forum

  1. Annuler