Akasaka Azabu

best japan hikes
  • Date Published: April 29, 2024

Japan offers a diverse range of hiking trails that cater to both seasoned hikers and beginners. Whether you’re looking for popular hiking destinations or off-the-beaten-path adventures, Japan has it all.

Embark on a journey through Japan’s remarkable landscapes and immerse yourself in its rich culture. From challenging mountain trails to scenic routes, here are the top hiking trails in Japan that promise amazing experiences and breathtaking views.

Key Takeaways:

  • Japan offers a variety of best mountain trails and scenic hiking routes.
  • Popular hiking destinations in Japan showcase the country’s natural beauty.
  • Must-visit hikes in Japan provide amazing experiences for all levels of hikers.
  • Japan’s off-the-beaten-path hikes offer a chance to explore hidden gems.
  • Challenge yourself with the exciting and rewarding hikes in Japan.
  • Beginner-friendly hikes in Japan provide an opportunity to start your hiking journey.

Summit Mount Yari and Mount Okuhotaka (via Daikiretto Gap)

The Japanese Alps, comprising the Hida Mountains, Kiso Mountains, and Akaishi Mountains, offer stunning hiking opportunities. Among these majestic peaks, the trek to summit Mount Yari and Mount Okuhotaka via the challenging Daikiretto Gap stands out as an adventure that should not be missed by experienced hikers.

The Daikiretto Gap, also known as “The Big Cut,” is a notorious section of the trail that requires careful navigation and mountaineering skills. It presents a thrilling and demanding challenge for those seeking an adrenaline-pumping experience in the Japanese Alps. But with great challenge comes even greater reward.

This 180-mile (67km) route typically takes 3-5 days to complete, offering hikers unparalleled views of the Japanese Alps and the surrounding alpine landscapes. Along the way, you’ll encounter breathtaking vistas, glacial valleys, and picturesque mountain lakes that dot the landscape. The awe-inspiring beauty of the Japanese Alps will leave you spellbound.

Key Highlights:

  • Summit Mount Yari, standing at 10,433 feet (3,180 meters), and take in panoramic views of the surrounding peaks.
  • Conquer Mount Okuhotaka, the third-highest peak in Japan, reaching a height of 10,466 feet (3,190 meters).
  • Navigate the treacherous Daikiretto Gap, a challenging section that demands concentration, agility, and mountaineering skills.
  • Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Japanese Alps, with its serene valleys, alpine meadows, and towering peaks.

Embarking on this epic adventure requires meticulous planning, proper gear, and physical fitness. It is recommended to undertake this hike during the summer months when the weather conditions are favorable.

Prepare to be captivated by the breathtaking landscapes of the Japanese Alps as you conquer the summit of Mount Yari and Mount Okuhotaka via the Daikiretto Gap. This extraordinary hiking experience will surely make it onto your list of the best hikes in Japan.

Difficulty Level Duration Distance
Challenging 3-5 days 180 miles (67km)

Hike the Nakahechi Route on the Kumano Kodō Pilgrimage Trail

The Kumano Kodō Pilgrimage Trail is a network of routes that have been walked by emperors and samurai for centuries. This ancient pilgrimage trail holds great significance in Japanese history and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Among the various routes, the Nakahechi Route stands out as the most popular and celebrated.

The Nakahechi Route spans over 113 miles (70km), taking hikers through a captivating journey that traverses ancient pine groves, picturesque villages, and breathtaking viewpoints. Along the way, you’ll witness the awe-inspiring beauty of the surrounding landscapes and immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Japan.

Embarking on the Nakahechi Route is like stepping back in time, as you follow in the footsteps of pilgrims who have made this sacred trek for centuries. The trail is lined with historical sites, shrines, and temples that reflect Japan’s deep spirituality and reverence for nature.

“Walking the Nakahechi Route is a truly transformative experience,” says Hiroshi Tanaka, a seasoned hiker who has completed the pilgrimage several times. “The serene atmosphere, ancient forests, and stunning vistas create a sense of tranquility and connection with both nature and Japan’s history.”

Key Highlights: Distance Duration
Ancient pine groves 113 miles (70km) 4-5 days
Scenic viewpoints
Cultural landmarks

Throughout the hike, you’ll be rewarded with magnificent panoramic views, including sweeping vistas of the Pacific Ocean and lush valleys. The tranquility of the trail allows for moments of self-reflection and introspection.

The Nakahechi Route on the Kumano Kodō Pilgrimage Trail is not only a physical challenge but also an opportunity to delve into the depths of Japanese history and spirituality. It offers a unique perspective on the country’s cultural heritage and is a testament to the enduring traditions that have shaped Japan.

So, pack your hiking boots and embark on the adventure of a lifetime along the Nakahechi Route. Experience the beauty and tranquility of the Kumano Kodō Pilgrimage Trail, and discover why it is considered one of the best hikes in Japan.

Hike the Mount Fuji Pilgrimage Trail

Mount Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan, is not only a breathtaking natural wonder but also a place of immense cultural and spiritual significance. Hiking the Mount Fuji Pilgrimage Trail is a bucket-list experience that allows you to immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring beauty of this iconic mountain.

The Mount Fuji Pilgrimage Trail offers two popular routes: the Yoshida Trail and the Gotemba Trail. The Yoshida Trail is the most commonly chosen route, attracting a large number of hikers every year. This trail starts from the 5th Station and takes you through lush forests, volcanic terrain, and striking landscapes. The ascent is challenging but rewarding, culminating in panoramic views from the summit.

The Yoshida Trail is the most popular route, while the Gotemba Trail offers fewer crowds and similar views.

On the other hand, the Gotemba Trail provides a quieter and less crowded alternative. This trail starts from the Gotemba 5th Station and offers hikers a chance to experience the serene beauty of Mount Fuji without the hustle and bustle of the more frequented Yoshida Trail. Although it may be less crowded, the Gotemba Trail still offers breathtaking views and unique hiking experiences.

Hiking the Mount Fuji Pilgrimage Trail is a moderate to challenging endeavor, with an elevation gain of approximately 3,775 feet (1,150 meters) and a roundtrip distance of around 12 miles (20 kilometers). Most hikers complete the hike over 1-2 days, camping or staying in mountain huts along the way. The climbing season for Mount Fuji is during July and August when the weather is more favorable.

Mount Fuji Pilgrimage Trail Comparison

Trail Starting Point Difficulty Scenery
Yoshida Trail 5th Station Moderate to Challenging Breathtaking panoramic views
Gotemba Trail Gotemba 5th Station Moderate to Challenging Serenity and unique landscapes

Embarking on the Mount Fuji Pilgrimage Trail is a memorable journey that allows you to challenge yourself physically, connect with nature, and appreciate the cultural heritage of Japan. Whether you choose the well-trodden path of the Yoshida Trail or the less crowded route of the Gotemba Trail, both offer unforgettable experiences and stunning views that make your hike in Japan truly remarkable.

Summit Mount Takao from Tokyo

Looking for a quick and convenient hiking escape from the bustling city of Tokyo? Look no further than Mount Takao, located just outside the city limits. This stunning natural landmark offers a refreshing retreat for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers.

The hike to the summit of Mount Takao is a popular activity among locals and visitors alike. With a trail distance of approximately 2.5 miles (4km), it can be completed in around 2 hours, making it a perfect day trip from Tokyo. Lace up your hiking boots and embark on an unforgettable journey through the scenic Tokyo hiking trails.

Omotesando Trail:

The Omotesando Trail is one of the most renowned hiking routes on Mount Takao. As you traverse this well-maintained trail, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes and lush greenery. Embrace the serenity of nature as you make your way to the summit and discover why this trail remains a favorite among hikers.

Biwa Waterfall Trail:

For a more challenging adventure, the Biwa Waterfall Trail offers a thrilling hiking experience. This trail takes you through dense forests and rocky terrain, leading to the enchanting Biwa Waterfall. Feel the exhilaration as you conquer steep slopes and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature.

“The hike to the summit of Mount Takao is a thrilling journey that combines the beauty of nature with the convenience of being just outside Tokyo. It’s the perfect escape for hikers of all levels.” – Anonymous hiker

Whether you choose the serene Omotesando Trail or the more adventurous Biwa Waterfall Trail, a hike up Mount Takao is a must for anyone seeking a memorable outdoor experience in Japan.

Trail Name Difficulty Level Distance Estimated Time
Omotesando Trail Easy 5 miles round trip 2 hours
Biwa Waterfall Trail Moderate 3.5 miles round trip 3 hours

So grab your hiking gear and embark on an unforgettable journey to summit Mount Takao. Experience the beauty of Tokyo’s hiking trails, connect with nature, and create lasting memories as you explore one of the best hikes in Japan.

Hike the Seven Waterfalls of Kawazu

For those seeking enchanting forests, mesmerizing rivers, and ancient folklore, the hike to the Seven Waterfalls of Kawazu is a must. This 3-mile (5km) trail winds through native beech forests, farmland, and leads to seven beautiful waterfalls of varying heights. Along the way, you’ll also find wild swimming spots, hot springs, and cultural landmarks.

Immerse yourself in the tranquil beauty of the Amagi Highlands as you venture through this picturesque trail. The Amagi Highlands, located in Shizuoka Prefecture, offer breathtaking panoramic views and a glimpse into the rich Japanese folklore associated with the area.

Legend has it that the seven waterfalls are inhabited by mystical creatures and spirits, adding an air of mystery and intrigue to your hiking adventure. Each waterfall holds its own unique charm, providing a serene and rejuvenating experience for hikers.

As you hike through the forested trails, don’t forget to explore the surrounding attractions. Take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear pools formed by the waterfalls or relax in one of the natural hot springs known for their therapeutic properties.

For those interested in Japanese folklore, the Seven Waterfalls of Kawazu are steeped in legends and stories passed down through generations. Each waterfall has its own tale to tell, adding a touch of magic and wonder to your hike.

Whether you are an experienced hiker or a nature enthusiast, the Seven Waterfalls of Kawazu offer an unforgettable experience. Lose yourself in the beauty of nature, connect with ancient traditions and immerse yourself in the captivating allure of Japanese folklore.


Japan is a paradise for hikers, offering an array of diverse and breathtaking hiking trails that are sure to captivate outdoor enthusiasts. From the popular and well-trodden routes to off-the-beaten-path hidden gems, the country’s hiking destinations cater to all skill levels and interests.

For those seeking a challenge, the towering peaks of the Japanese Alps beckon, promising awe-inspiring panoramas and thrilling adventures. If you prefer a more serene experience, the tranquil waterfalls of Kawazu offer a peaceful respite amidst lush forests and mythical landscapes.

Japan’s hiking trails not only showcase its natural beauty but also provide a window into the country’s rich history and cultural heritage. Whether you’re scaling Mount Fuji, following in the footsteps of ancient pilgrims along the Kumano Kodō Pilgrimage Trail, or exploring the scenic routes of the Amagi Highlands, each trail offers a unique and unforgettable experience.

So pack your hiking gear, lace up your boots, and embark on an incredible journey through the best Japan hikes. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, there’s a trail waiting for you to discover, offering amazing vistas, challenging terrains, and memories that will last a lifetime.


What are the best hikes in Japan?

Some of the best hikes in Japan include the summit of Mount Yari and Mount Okuhotaka via the Daikiretto Gap, the Nakahechi Route on the Kumano Kodō Pilgrimage Trail, the Mount Fuji Pilgrimage Trail, the hike to the summit of Mount Takao from Tokyo, and the hike to the Seven Waterfalls of Kawazu.

How long does it take to complete the summit of Mount Yari and Mount Okuhotaka hike?

The summit hike of Mount Yari and Mount Okuhotaka via the Daikiretto Gap takes 3-5 days to complete.

What can I expect on the Nakahechi Route on the Kumano Kodō Pilgrimage Trail?

The Nakahechi Route on the Kumano Kodō Pilgrimage Trail takes you through ancient pine groves, small villages, and stunning viewpoints. It typically takes 4-5 days to complete.

Which is the most popular route for hiking Mount Fuji?

The most popular route for hiking Mount Fuji is the Yoshida Trail. However, the Gotemba Trail offers similar views with fewer crowds.

How long does it take to hike Mount Takao?

The hike to the summit of Mount Takao takes around 2 hours and covers approximately 2.5 miles (4km).

What can I find along the hike to the Seven Waterfalls of Kawazu?

Along the hike to the Seven Waterfalls of Kawazu, you can explore enchanting forests, mesmerizing rivers, and discover native beech forests, wild swimming spots, hot springs, and cultural landmarks.

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