10 Best Hikes in Japan

Writer's Profile
Writer’s Profile

Bryce was born in California, but raised from the age of 3 near Seattle, Washington. He’s been living in Tokyo for about 7 years, and graduated from Temple University, Japan with degrees in economics and international business. He loves traveling of course, but also cooking, snowboarding, some video games as well. His biggest interest is songwriting/music production, more specifically electronic music… (think Skrillex, Marshmello, Daft Punk, etc.) He also has terrible humor as you’ll notice, but he hopes you’ll enjoy it!

This post may contain some affiliate links. When you click through and make a purchase we may receive some commission, at no extra cost to you.

Japan, a country where ancient traditions seamlessly blend with cutting-edge technology, offers some of the most awe-inspiring hiking experiences. For those that are not completely aware of Japan’s geographical makeup, it may surprise you to know that it is 73% mountainous, and 68% forested. That means that most of that incredible tech, Sushi, and Anime is only being produced in like 30% of the country, and that there is an immense variety of hiking spots. Lace up your boots and get ready for an adventure that goes beyond the ordinary. From mystical forest trails to towering peaks, Japan’s diverse landscapes beckon the intrepid traveler. Here’s our curated list of the best hikes in Japan, each promising a unique blend of nature, culture, and the unexpected.

1. Kumano Kodo

Nestled in the verdant Kii Peninsula of Kansai, Kumano Kodo is a pilgrimage through time. This ancient network of trails weaves through dense forests, connecting grand shrines and temples. In fact, these 1000 year old trails have earned the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Embrace the spiritual aura as you traverse moss-covered stone paths. Don’t miss the Nachi Falls, a serene spot for reflection. For a touch of spontaneity, join the locals in the annual Kumano Fireworks Festival, blending tradition with a burst of modern celebration.

2. Shiratani Unsui Gorge

Yakushima, a mystical island off Kyushu’s coast, welcomes you to the fantastical world of Princess Mononoke, as this area was the inspiration for its landscape. The Shiratani Unsui Gorge or ravine, with its ancient cedar trees, evokes a sense of magic. Be sure to take home a souvenir of this incredible forest; the wood here is famous for its quality and many craftsmen create intricate and high quality products from it. Another great souvenir from Kyushu is Shochu, a popular spirit. Be sure to check out the rest of Kyushu as it is filled with great nature spots and other fun!

3. Mt. Tsurugi

yano@mama.akari.ne.j…CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Escape the ordinary on Tokushima‘s Mt Tsurugi, offering a panoramic vista of Shikoku‘s beauty. The trail is a symphony of colors, with cherry blossoms in spring and fiery foliage in autumn. Embrace spontaneity by joining the Awa Odori, a traditional dance festival in Tokushima City, or reward your senses with Tokushima Ramen, a local take on an ever-popular dish. Shikoku and hiking absolutely cannot be mentioned in the same breath without also mentioning the 88 temple pilgrimage, another popular opportunity for hiking and backpacking enthusiasts.

4. Shiretoko

Hokkaido‘s Shiretoko Peninsula, a UNESCO World Heritage site, promises untamed beauty. Wander through dense forests and along rugged coastlines, a home to a diverse ecosystem of animals. The volcanic landscape is ever changing throughout the seasons, making it a great places to visit regardless of the time of year. There is no doubt that Shiretoko will leave you impressed, so be sure to put it on your list! Hokkaido is home to many other beautiful places, so be sure to consider visiting the area. Oh, and it’s also incredible for snowsports!

5. Mt. Fuji

mt fuji hike

No list about hiking, let alone Japan in general, is complete without the iconic Mt. Fuji, Japan’s tallest peak. The climbing season from July to September offers breathtaking sunrise views. For a touch of spontaneity, visit during the Fuji Shibazakura Festival when the base is carpeted in vibrant pink moss. Refuel with Hoto, a hearty Yamanashi noodle soup, and celebrate your triumph with a sip of local Fujisan whisky. Kawaguchiko is a destination for many, be sure to check it out with our inclusive tour!

6. Kamikochi Yarigatake

Kamikochi, a pristine alpine valley in the Japanese Alps of Nagano, beckons with the towering Yarigatake peak. This hike is no joke, and certainly a contender to Mt. Fuji, being Japan’s 5th tallest peak. Hike through lush meadows and crystal-clear rivers, surrounded by 360-degree mountain views. Keep in mind that Nagano is definitely right after Hokkaido in terms of incredible opportunities for snowsports! In general, Nagano is a great spot for nature enthusiasts.

7. Nakasendo Trail

Step back in time on the Nakasendo Trail, a historic route through Nagano connecting Kyoto and Tokyo during the Edo period. Stroll through post towns with preserved traditional architecture. Along the way be sure to relax with a dip in the Yabuhara Onsen. Relish Kiso Valley’s famed pickles and locally crafted Sake, adding a modern flavor to your historical journey. The Trail is 60 kilometers long, so be prepared for a multiple day adventure! 

8. Mt. Tateyama

Σ64CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tateyama, part of the Japanese holy mountain trio, promises a high-altitude adventure. Accessible by the scenic Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, the trip offers surreal vistas of snow walls in spring. The hike itself is actually not too long considering the height breaching 3000 meters, at a somewhat brisk 4 hours round trip. The hike is not too challenging (but maybe not “easy”) and offers some truly memorable views.

9. Mt. Karakuni

tsuda from Tsushima, Aichi, JapanCC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Venture to Kirishima of Kyushu, where a cluster of volcanic peaks awaits. Mt. Karakuni offers a challenging ascent with rewarding views of crater lakes and smoking vents, as well as the famed Takachiho Gorge (though it might be hard to see the “good part”) and Sakurajima, another volcano. Nourish your sore muscles with a dip in the Kirishima Jingu Onsen after your trek. Savor local Kagoshima Kurobuta pork dishes and Shochu, encapsulating the volcanic spirit of the region. Kyushu was mentioned as a great place for nature earlier, but Kagoshima alone is an incredible place to visit and create core memories.

10. Asahidake

Asahidake, the highest peak in Hokkaido, invites you to a world of geothermal wonders. Hike amidst steam vents and hot springs, culminating in panoramic views. The hike is well reviewed for its accessibility among other spots in Hokkaido, and thus a favorite for many. For spontaneity, relax in the Asahidake Onsen and let the volcanic waters rejuvenate you. Refuel yourself with some wonderful rice dishes; the proximity to fresh spring water and mountain runoff makes the environment great for cultivating delicious rice.

Japan Wonder Travel Tours 

Japan Wonder Travel is a travel agency that offers guided tours throughout Japan. 
From private walking tours to delicious Food and Drink tours, we can help you organize the best tours just for you! If you want to explore Japan and learn more about the history and backstories of each area you are visiting, our knowledgeable and friendly English speaking guides will happily take you to the best spots! 
In addition, we can provide you with any assistance you may need for your upcoming trip to Japan, so please feel free to contact us if yu have any questions or need some help! 

Tokyo Tsukiji Fish Market Food and Drink Tour
Explore the most lively and popular fish market in Tokyo and try some of the local’s favorite street foods and sake with one of our friendly and knowledgeable English speaking guides! 

tsukiji tour

Tokyo 1–Day Highlights Private Walking Tour (8 Hours)
There’s no better way to explore an area than taking a tour with a knowledgeable local guide. You will have the chance to learn about the history and interesting background stories of Tokyo, as well as discover some hidden gems which can be hard to do without a guide.

Asakusa Tokyo private tour

Mt. Fuji Day Trip Bus Tour from Tokyo
Experience the breathtaking views of Mt. Fuji by visiting the highlights of the area on our guided sightseeing bus tour! Departing from Shinjuku in central Tokyo, you can travel comfortably to all of the best spots in the area by bus.

mount fuji chureito pagoda

Follow us on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and TikTok for more travel inspiration. Or tag us to get featured!

Happy traveling!

Stay informed of the best travel tips to Japan, the most exciting things to do and see, and the top experiences to have with the Japan Wonder Travel Newsletter. Every week we will introduce you to our latest content.

Other Articles you Might be Interested in:


Sponsored links
Share this article on your social media
Copied title and URL