Expect high snow-capped peaks, picturesque villages and rolling hills in The Japanese Alps, a series of mountain ranges that include Akasishi, Kiso and Hida. This is rural Japan at its best with idyllic agricultural plots, paddy fields, tracks of forest and traditional houses. The region can easily be explored on foot, by bicycle or by train
A must for anyone that wishes to explore Japan’s quieter and more bucolic landscape, a visit to the The Japanese Alps is often a highlight for many visiting Japan. With famous trekking routes, such as The Nakesendo Highway along with picturesque historic towns and villages such as Takayama, Matsumoto and Shirakawago, The Japanese Alps offer a true contrast to Japan’s huge metropolitan cities. The Nakesendo Highway, once a series of postal towns between Kyoto and Tokyo, is now an incredibly scenic trekking route offering the opportunity to trek for two or three days staying in local ryokans in preserved Edo era villages along the way. Yudanaka and Obuse are also not far away and act as the entry point to see the famous macaques, otherwise known as snow monkeys, that regularly take a dip in bubbling hot springs.
Here are some of our highlights in The Japanese Alps:
Arguably one of Japan’s most atmospheric towns with tiny streets home to Edo period architecture, museums, craft shops and galleries.
Shirakawago is just under an hour from Takayama and just over an hour from Kanazawa. UNESCO protected, it is an extraordinary town home to Gassho style houses with steeply pitched thatched roofs that are one of a kind in Japan.
Tsumago and Magome
Tsmago and Magome sit in the Kiso Valley along the Nakesendo Walking Trail. The route between Tsmago and Magome is one of the finest along the entire trail and offers a chance to stay in brilliantly preserved Edo period villages. Tsmago is one of our favourite villages in Japan and a stay in a local ryokan is definitely a highlight here.
Yudanaka and Obuse
Yudanaka is a popular hot spring town and offers the closest accommodation to the Snow Monkey Park, an area with multiple hot springs where local macaques warm up in winter. The monkeys can be seen year round, but they are most appealing in the winter months when the valley is covered in snow and up to 100 monkeys can be seen bathing in the hot spring water. Nearby is charming Obuse, home to the Hokkusai Museum, home to original block prints such as the world famous, Wave. The whole area can explored by train or by bicycle from village to village.