Known as the ‘land of the rising sun’, Japan balances tradition with high-tech modern technologies. Japan is truly a country of contrasts – from the natural spectacle of Mount Fuji and idyllic islands and beaches in the south, to the cosmopolitan energy of Tokyo and Osaka and the ancient temples, shrines and wooden houses of Kyoto. Japan is unlike anywhere else in Asia and is a truly enthralling holiday destination.
Walking in Japan
Hiking in Japan is one of the world’s best kept secrets. Whether its paving the way from village to village in the Japanese Alps, traversing the Big Snow Mountain of Hokkaido, climbing the volcanoes of Kyushu or simply walking in the hills of Kyoto, there is something for everyone to enjoy. We’ve compiled our favourite walking destinations in Japan, ideal for seasoned walkers and wanderers alike.
In Hakone, Mount Fuji dominates the landscape and on foot is one of the best ways to see its majesty both from afar and up close. Take a scenic hike to the base of Mount Fuji for spectacular views of Lake Kawaguchi and the famous snow-capped peak amidst miles of uninterrupted wilderness. Spend days hiking around the trails of Lake Ahinoko or Lake Ashi or between the months of July and August, climb Mount Fuji itself. Its snow-capped splendour is matched only by the Shinto shrine upon its summit and the crater which marks its highest point. Watch the sunrise and send a postcard from the top for the ultimate Mount Fuji memento.
Less than an hour from Tokyo sits the sacred mountain of Mount Takao. Offering a network of beautiful walking trails, there are various ways to summit and descend the mountain, each affording spectacular views. The pièce de résistance is the breath-taking vista of Tokyo from the very top, the mind boggling size of this sprawling city is a true sight to behold. Climbing up Mount Takao is the perfect option for those wanting to squeeze in some spectacular hiking into a city break in Tokyo.
The Nakasendo Way
Walk back in time through ancient Japan on the famed Nakasendo Way, a 332-mile route through the heart of the country which was once a highway between the trading centres of Kyoto and Tokyo. Whilst now it is less frequented by feudal lords, samurais and pilgrims, and more by keen hikers, it is easy to imagine the path in its heyday. Stopping off at traditional Japanese inns, or ryokans, to rest weary legs en-route adds to the authenticity of the experience.
Take a three-day expedition on the Nakasendo Highway on arguably the prettiest section of the trail, passing through many of the route’s charming post towns and Shinto shrines which have existed since the Edo period. Stroll past waterfalls, bamboo forests and cherry blossom trees, all home to a myriad of birds and wildlife.
One of only two UNESCO-listed pilgrimage routes in the world, the ancient hiking trails of Kumano Kodo have snaked through the Kii Mountain range for over 1,000 years, in Japan’s Wakayama Prefecture, around an hour south of Osaka by train. While Japanese pilgrims have walked these trails for hundreds of years, this region has remained largely undiscovered by international visitors, meaning there is a lovely sense of tranquillity to be found here.
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