Hiking

Images and reflections from long walks in Japan. Most of these articles include detailed access information and route guidance in case you wish to attempt these routes yourself. All can be reached by public transport and completed without specialist equipment.

A cultural icon of Japan, and its highest mountain at 3,776m. An account of a night ascent to see the sunrise from the summit, along with detailed information on how to climb it.
A photographic overview of hiking opportunities in Japan, including images from some mountains not covered in this blog.





In order of prefecture:
1) Tokyo
2) Kanagawa
3) Saitama
4) Yamanashi
5) Ibaraki
6) Tochigi
7) Fukushima
8) Aomori
9) Hokkaido


1) Tokyo

Ōtama Trail
A short and relaxing walk along the upper Tama River provides the best introduction to the Oku-Tama area and a pleasant excursion through its villages, woods and ravines.
A gentle ridge in sleepy Hinohara village, suitable for casual hikers, with views of the distant mountains of Oku-Tama and a visit to a legendary waterfall.
Tokyo's most popular mountain. Take the cable car for a casual day out, or choose from several ascent routes and a long ridge to Mt. Jinba for a more serious excursion. Legends of tengu and ascetic mountain hermits abound, but beware massive crowds on weekends and holidays.
Much quieter than the main Takao ridge, and easy walking most of the way amidst evergreen forests.



The ridge north of Takao-san is similarly tranquil, but a much more strenuous ordeal. The haunted grounds of Hachiōji Castle harbour bloodstained secrets.



Mt. Mitake is a popular peak with a small village, cable car access, and a sacred heritage associated with mountain hermits. More adventurous walkers can explore the "Rock Garden" ravine or climb on to the pointy Mt. Ōdake.
The three mountains of Takamizu offer a nice easy-to-intermediate circuit of good views, local shrines and temples, and a genenrally pleasant all-round Japanese hiking experience.



Mitō-san
In the corner where Oku-Tama and Hinohara meet, a three headed mountain of lush wild beech and maple forests. Popular and open to all as part of the Hinohara Citizens' Forest and suitable for beginners, but remote, immersive and beautiful.
The "falcon's nest": a demanding hike up a high mountain in deeper Oku-Tama, featuring a merciless ascent, but spectacular mountain views and a long, long ridge like a walkway through the skies.




2) Kanagawa

The Tanzawa Mountains in Kanagawa are full of splendid flora, fauna and geology. The most accessible and popular is Ōyama, which has cable car access. This was my first hike in Japan.



A stroll over the gentle foothills of the Tanzawa Mountains, overlooking Hadano and Sagami Bay. Excellent sakura in spring. Suitable for beginners, picnickers and small children.


The "watchtower peak": a strategic vantage point over Ashigara Pass, the historic entryway to the Kantō Plain. An intermediate-level climb to splendid views of Mt. Fuji on one side and Sagami Bay on the other.




A challenging mountain in the deeper Tanzawa Mountains, popular in late spring for the white and purple rhododendrons that flourish around its peak. Beautiful topography, breathtaking ridges and exciting technical scrambles up and down rock faces.

Kanagawa's famous hot spring resort offers plenty of good hiking of its own. The birthplace of Japanese folk hero Kintarō, the bamboo-carpeted northern ridge, and the central lava dome are all worth exploring.


Kamakura Hills
Kamakura is rich in history, but it is also surrounded by mountains and sea. Here is a walk that blends some of the best of both its natural and human heritage.





3) Saitama

North of Tokyo, the moutains of Oku-Musashi rise towards the beautiful wilds of Chichibu. Izugatake is not too far in, but nonetheless offers a challenging day's ramble. A steep ascent, with a famous chain-assisted rock climb, is followed by a long ridge, gorgeous views, and a temple enshrining a god specialising in protection from leg ailments.


A village in lower Saitama harbours secrets of an ancient Korean heritage, and spectacular flower fields of pink cherry blossoms in spring and red spider lilies in autumn.



Chichibu's independent and instantly recognisable mountain. Despite having its face mined off for its limestone this is a great mountain to hike, and its woods still whisper of more spiritual days gone by.


A traditional town in north-central Saitama, where the Chichibu lowlands meet the edge of the Kanto Plain. A gentle hike in mixed surroundings, combining small peaks with nice views and some pleasant rural neighbourhoods.



4) Yamanashi

A wooded intermediate-level peak just west of Tokyo, whose scenery exemplifies Japan's blurred boundaries of town, country and wilderness.
A long trek across two peaks in the Ōtsuki valley, featuring the curious Monkey Bridge, close views of Mt. Fuji, and a section along one of the ancient Edo Five Routes and its old Inume post station.



Katsunuma and Kōshū Takaō-san
Vineyards, autumn colours and very old temples in the birthplace and heartland of Japanese wine-making at the edge of the Kōfu Basin.





5) Ibaraki

Tsukuba-san
The iconic double mountain of the Tsukuba science city, on the plains east of Tokyo. Good for either a relaxing day out or a casual hike, with good views, an optional cable car, bizarre rock formations, and one of the oldest shrines in the country.



6) Tochigi

The marshes, mountains and grasslands of Oze National Park span four prefectures, and feature unique plants and scenery.





7) Fukushima

Aizu-Komagatake
This article on a trip to southern Aizu includes discussion of some beautiful 2000m mountains in the upper reaches of Oze National Park, and images from a climb up one of them amidst fantastic autumn colours.



8) Aomori

The last of five articles from a journey around Aomori Prefecture. Its central mountains are a wild and marvellous place of volcanic lava domes, untamed weather, and wetlands the colour of fire - and also hold some deadly history.



9) Hokkaido

Atop the Daisetsuzan mountain range in Hokkaido, an unimaginable realm of unparalleled landscapes and adorable chipmunks.


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