Hiking in japan - Feature Image

Hiking in Japan: A Guide to the Best Trails

As a fellow hiker I’m passionate about exploring the best hiking in Japan. There’s something for everyone here, from coastal paths and mountain peaks to ancient forests and remote islands. I have spent years traveling across the country ticking Japan’s hikes and trails off my bucket list.

Japan’s deep connection to nature is found in its religions, cultural practices, and the country’s love for hiking and exploring the outdoors. Shintoism holds that everything in nature is sacred. The gods reside in the mountains, rivers, and trees. Hiking and exploring nature is more than recreation; it is a spiritual experience that connects Japanese people to the divine.

Japan’s rugged terrain offers countless opportunities for outdoor exploration. The country’s extensive trails, national parks, and hot springs attract millions of visitors annually. As one hikes through the mountains of Japan, the beauty of nature is a constant companion. The changing colors of the seasons, the lush greenery of the forests, and the sparkling waters of the streams all remind hikers of the power and majesty of nature.

When to Hike in Japan

Japan is a great place to go hiking, with plenty of opportunities for year-round exploration. In the springtime, hikers can enjoy the beautiful cherry blossoms, while fall brings vibrant autumn leaves that create a stunning backdrop for any hike. No matter what season you visit Japan, there will be plenty of outdoor exploration and adventure opportunities!

Recommended Hiking Gear

The hikes in our list range from leisurely strolls to more strenuous trails, it’s important to make sure you have the right gear for your chosen hike. Hiking boots or shoes with good grip are essential for tackling Japan’s rocky trails and steep inclines. Japan is a wet county, and a good waterproof jacket is a must in case of rain while trekking outdoors. Hiking poles can be a great help in navigating rugged terrain, especially on trails with lots of up and down. And remember to bring plenty of water and snacks in your pack! You may require crampons for some of these hikes if you are hiking in the winter.

Best Hiking In Japan

Around Tokyo

Despite the towering skyscrapers and crowded city streets, there are plenty of places around Tokyo where you can find solitude and fresh air. Whether you’re looking for a stroll or a challenging hike, the trails around Tokyo offer an array of stunning landscapes that will leave unforgettable memories.

Mount Kōbō

  • Duration: 2-3 hours
  • Skill level: Easy
  • Season: All year

If you want to explore Tokyo’s hiking scene, Mt. Koubou is an ideal introduction. Nestled at the base of Mt. Oyama, this leisurely 2.5-hour trek has become especially popular during cherry blossom season. When you reach the top, the picnic tables and benches offer breathtaking views of Fuji Mountain and Sagami Bay.

Mount Kawanori

hiking in Japan - Mount Kawanori
Mount Kawanori
  • Duration: 5–6 hours
  • Skill level: Intermediate
  • Season: All year (you may need crampons for winter snow)

Although winter may bring snow, Mt. Kawanori is an all-season hiking destination. The first rest station is about 35 minutes from the trail head. After that, the precarious path leading above the river until reaching Hyakuhiro Waterfall marks the beginning of a steep 100-minute trek where at last, in reward for overcoming such obstacles, lies breathtaking picnicking grounds atop its summit!

Yatsugatake Mountain Range

Haking in Japan Yatsugatake
  • Duration: 1-3 days
  • Skill level: Expert
  • Season: Late spring to late autumn (snow-capped all winter)

For travelers looking for a unique outdoor experience, Yatsugatake provides some of the best multi-day hikes in Japan. Situated three hours from Tokyo by car, this majestic eight-peak volcanic ridge boasts uninterrupted views at every turn. Akadake is the highest peak at 2899m and is one of Japan’s renowned 100 famous mountains. You’ll also find several mountain huts where you can rest or refuel.

Around Kyoto

Kyoto, Japan, is a city of unparalleled beauty and historical significance. As the former imperial capital of Japan, this city has been home to some of the nation’s most important cultural sites for centuries, including countless temples and shrines still standing today. But beyond its vibrant history, Kyoto offers breathtaking natural scenery along its many hiking trails. Whether looking for a peaceful escape or an adrenaline-filled adventure, Kyoto’s incredible landscapes will not disappoint!


Haking in Japan - Daimonji-Yama
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Skill level: Easy
  • Season: All year

Embark on a quick and rewarding journey to the peak of Kyoto’s beauty with the Daimonji hike. Kick off your adventure at Ginkaku-ji, or what is known as the “silver temple” in Northern Higashiyama. As you ascend 220m (720ft), prepare for an incredible view overlooking this fantastic city from its hilltop lookout! If you’re feeling extra motivated, you can hike for another 20 minutes to the peak of Mt. Daimonji.

Fushimi Inari pilgrimage circuit

hiking in Japan - Fushimi Inari pilgrimage circuit
Fushimi Inari pilgrimage circuit
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Skill level: Easy to moderate
  • Season: All year

Fushimi Inari-Taisha is one of Kyoto’s most iconic sites. It is renowned for its 10,000 torii gates that line the trails around Mt. Inari. Most visitors take their Instagram shots and move on after walking through the first 100m, but what they’re missing out on is a fantastic hiking experience! The best way to get the full effect of Fushimi Inari is by ascending up to the peak. Savor the atmosphere along these magnificent trails atop this historic mountain. I recommend bringing bug spray. Most of the hike is in the shade, and we found the mosquitos to be quite aggressive.


  • Duration: 4–6 hours
  • Skill Level: Expert
  • Season: All year

If you long for an exciting adventure, Mt. Atago is the answer! Located northwest of the city with a height of 924m, Mt. Atago is a year-round hike. Just make sure to get your winter supplies during colder months since its terrain may become quite hazardous. The trail is well-marked, with many stairs helping even novice climbers. At the top, you will find stunning panoramic views and the sacred Atago Shrine, which is said to protect homes from fire disasters.

Around Osaka

Osaka, Japan, is a vibrant city known for its delicious food, bright lights, and lively atmosphere. But beyond the hustle and bustle of the city lies an incredible outdoor playground offering some of the best hiking experiences in Japan. There are plenty of opportunities to explore nature and enjoy stunning views around Osaka. Whether you’re looking for a short walk or a long trek, these hikes will leave you with unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime!

Mount Maya

Hiking in Japan - Mount Maya
Mount Maya
  • Duration: 4–5 hours
  • Skill Level: Moderate
  • Season: All year

The Rokko mountain Maya peak has much to offer for those seeking adventure. It is 698 m tall and boasts one of Japan’s top three night views. The spectacular cascading Nunobiki waterfalls are a scene to behold. You also have the option to take a detour through Nunobiki Herb Garden along your journey to the top. The mountain also has a rope way that will take you directly to the peak if you want to give your legs a rest.

Mount Ikoma

  • Duration: 3–4 hours
  • Skill Level: Moderate
  • Season: All year

Standing at 641m, Mount Ikoma sits on the border of Osaka and Nara. As you embark on your journey up the steps of the traditional shopping street, wander through Hozan-ji temple’s tranquil grounds. Its red pagoda, nestled amidst vibrant lanterns, is worth exploring before heading further up. At the top of the mountain is the Ikoma Sanjo children’s amusement park and spectacular views. A cable car option also goes directly to the temple and park attractions for quick access.

Takatori Castle Ruins

Hiking in japan - Takatori Castle
Takatori Castle
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Skill Level: Easy
  • Season: All year

Explore the crumbling walls and mossy ramparts of the unforgettable Takatori Castle. Found at the top of Mount Takatori (548m), it is one of Japan’s largest mountain-top castles. Constructed in the 14th century the castle and grounds surround approximately 30 km. The hike up is relatively easy and takes around two hours. To make it extra special, add a detour to the nearby Sousen-ji temple or enjoy a picnic on one of the many benches at the peak.

Notable Multi-Day Hikes

For those who are looking for an unforgettable adventure, Japan has many multi-day hikes on offer. Below are some of our favorite options.

Mount Fuji

Climbing Mount Fuji Japan’s highest peak at 3776 meters is one for the bucket list. There is nothing quite like journeying through the wee hours of the morning, surrounded by hundreds of fellow adventurous souls from around the globe. A favorite among Japanese hikers and tourists alike, Mount Fuji is very popular during school break (mid-July – late August). The route is often like a traffic jam during the Japanese national holiday of Obon (August). We recommend hiking Fuji in the off-peak season for a better experience.

Mount Fuji’s trail has ten stations, with the first at the base and the tenth at the summit. Paved roads extend to the fifth station, where most hikers start their ascent. Mt. Fuji has several trails leading to the peak, each with unique features with the Yoshida route being the easiest.

Most hikers time their climb to witness the sunrise from the summit of Mt. Fuji. The best way to watch the sunrise is to climb to a mountain hut near the 7th or 8th station on day one and sleep there before continuing to the summit early on day two.

The Shikoku Henro Pilgrimage Trail

The Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage Trail, known as the sacred Shikoku Henro, is one of the oldest spiritual journeysin the world. The trek traverses nearly 1200km and visits 88 Buddhist temples, taking you on an expedition through Japanese culture and history. Legend has it that this hike follows in the footsteps of Kūkai, the founder of Shingon Buddhism.

Although there are several ways to undertake the pilgrimage, one of the most popular methods is taking a bus tour which takes roughly seven days and avoids long-distance walking between the temples. On foot, the route will take 40 – 60 days, and cycling will take approximately two weeks.

Michinoku Coastal Trail

The Michinoku Coastal Trail opened in 2019 and is the longest trail of its kind in Japan. Spanning over 1,000 kilometers along Japan’s northern Honshu region, the path follows the coastline from Hachinohe City to Soma City (Aomori Prefecture and Fukushima Prefecture). Built as part of recovery efforts after the tragic Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11th, 2011, the hike delivers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.

The sections of the trail are split it into accessible routes for various skill level. Though the Michinoku Coastal Trail is relatively new, it is quickly becoming one of Japan’s most beloved hiking routes! The English Michinoku Shiokaze Trail site has detailed information about the route and facilities for hikers. 

Spring Hiking (Cherry Blossom Season)

Spring is a great time to go hiking in Japan, and the country offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor exploration. With its beautiful cherry blossom season, Japan’s nature comes alive with vibrant colors, making it the perfect backdrop.

Mount Misen Miyajima (Hiroshima)

hiking in Japan - Mount Misen
Mount Misen
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Skill Level: Easy
  • Season: Spring

Found on the island of Miyajima, Mount Misen is one of the most popular hikes in Japan. The summit has a blanket of beautiful cherry blossoms during peak season. Several Buddhist temples are near the peak, with trails perfect for hiking. The Momijidani Course, Daisho-in Course, and Omoto Course lead up to the top of the mountain from town. For an easier climb and beautiful views, we suggest the Daisho-in trail.

Hanamiyama Park (Fukushima)

Hiking in japan - Hanamiyama Park
Hanamiyama Park
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Skill Level: Easy
  • Season: Spring

Hanamiyama is less a hike and more a walk through Fukushima’s largest cherry blossom park. With over 1,200 cherry trees and panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, Hanamiyama is one of Japan’s best-known spring destinations for flower viewing. Initially started by local farmers who planned flowering trees to draw tourists, the area is now one of the city’s most treasured attractions. The park opened its doors to visitors in 1959, and thousands of visitors come annually to view the breathtaking sight of cherry blossoms.

Autumn Hiking (Fall Foilage Season)

Fall is a magical time in Japan, with the changing seasons bringing breathtakingly beautiful views. Nature comes alive as lush green foliage turns to vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows that transform the landscape.

Mount Takao

  • Duration: 1.5 hours
  • Skill Level: Easy
  • Season: Fall

Every autumn season, an influx of adventurers and sightseers flock to Mt. Takao for its breathtaking beauty. The mountain’s trees burst into vibrant shades of red between mid-November and early December (though the exact date may vary). At 599m tall, it is a relatively easy hike, but there is also a ropeway that can take you most of the way to the top. At the western edge of Tokyo’s Tama region, Mt Takao is a short 1-hour train ride from Shinjuku Station.

Nikko National Park (Mount Nantai)

Hiking in Japan - Nikko National Park - Nantai
Nikko National Park – Nantai
  • Duration: 6 Hours
  • Skill Level: Challenging
  • Season: Fall

The illustrious Nikko National Park lies between Fukushima, Tochigi, and Gunma prefectures. Easily accessible from Tokyo, this area has cultural, historical, and natural treasures abound that make it a must-visit destination. For hikers, Mount Nantai offers an unforgettable experience; selected as one of Japan’s 100 most famous mountains, its conical shape rises on the northern shore of Lake Chuzenji, where you’ll find Futarasan-jinja Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Kamikochi (Yarigatake & Oku-Hotaka)

Hiking in Japan - Yarigatake
  • Duration: 2 Days
  • Skill Level: Expert
  • Season: Fall

Kamikochi, located in the Japanese Alps, is one of Japan’s most popular hiking destinations. This spectacular valley sits at an altitude of around 1500m. It boasts a beautiful plateau with a scenic turquoise river running right through it – perfect for those seeking casual strolls or weekend camping. Many tourists visit Kamikochin during peak season, but for intrepid hikers, the peaks of Yarigatake and Oku-Hotaka mountain offer an escape from the masses. Connected by the Daikiretto ridgeline, they are some of the best multi-day hikes in Japan. Be aware, though; some routes can be hazardous if you don’t have rock climbing experience. From late September to mid-October, these mountains burst into life with vivid hues as vibrant foliage transposes them.

Map of Japan’s Best Hiking Trails


Does Japan have good hiking?

Yes, Japan has some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world. With an endless array of natural beauty, from mountainous terrain to stunning coasts and lakes, there is something for everyone. Hiking has been a part of Japanese culture for centuries, and the country has created a well-maintained network of trails, making it easy to explore its gorgeous landscapes.

What month is best for hiking in Japan?

The best month for hiking in Japan will depend on where you plan to hike. Hiking season usually kids off in April/May and runs until late September.

What is the best mountain to hike in Japan?

The best mountain to hike in Japan is Mount Fuji. The iconic mountain stands 3,776 meters high and is considered the symbol of Japan. It’s an excellent choice for experienced hikers looking for an exciting challenge with incredible views.

What is the most famous walk in Japan?

The Nakasendo Trail is one of the most famous walks in Japan. This historic path winds through the mountains between Kyoto and Tokyo and takes you through post towns, castles, temples, and shrines. It’s an incredible way to explore traditional Japanese culture while enjoying nature.

Final Thoughts

Hiking in Japan is a memorable way to explore the country’s natural beauty, culture, and history. From Mt. Takao to Mt. Fuji, Japan has an almost endless selection of trails for every level of hiker. With some preparation, you can easily find the best hiking trail to experience Japan’s stunning landscapes and hidden gems. So lace up your shoes and prepare for an adventure that will remain in your memory forever.

See you on the trail!

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