All About Japan

5 Unbelievable Hiking Spots in the Japan Alps

Mountains Hiking Japanese Countryside Great Outdoors Cheap Tours Shoryudo Gifu Nagano Toyama Yamanashi Chubu Hokuriku Koshinetsu

Japan has a reputation abroad for its buzzing urban sprawl and and its always-on-the-go lifestyle. Few realize that this country is mostly mountainous, with a huge hiking culture to match. The Japan Alps are the perfect place to experience this firsthand. If you have an inclination for outdoor adventure, don't miss these five hikes!

5. Mount Hotaka (Nagano/Gifu)

Japan's third-highest peak (3,190 meters/10,466 feet) also happens to be one of the 100 Famous Japanese Mountains. This trek isn't for the faint of heart, with a steep ascent and some scrambling with ropes and ladders required. The views from the top make it all worthwhile, with spectacular views of the Alps. During hiking season, you can catch direct night buses from both Tokyo and Osaka to Kamikochi, where you can catch the trailhead.

4. Mount Yake (Nagano/Gifu)

Another hike in beautiful Kamikochi, this trek sees hikers climbing up an active volcano for a bit of added excitement. The hike takes about six hours total and is pretty straightforward, although there's some ladder work that might cause trouble for folks who are afraid of heights. Be sure to make a pit stop at the steam vents close to the summit. Direct night buses from Tokyo and Osaka depart for Kamikochi, where you can find the trailhead.

3. Mount Shirouma (Toyama/Nagano)

Mount Shirouma is a beautiful trek no matter the season, as the peak is covered with snow fields for most of the year. From the top (2,932 meters/9,619 feet), you'll be rewarded with sweeping views of the surrounding mountains. While this is a relatively simple hike, it's worth noting that this mountain is prone to avalanches, so it's best to time your trip for a season when the snow and ice are more stable. An overnight Alpico Group bus from Shinjuku Station takes travelers straight to Hakuba, where the trail starts.

2. Mount Yari (Nagano/Gifu)

Mount Yari is one of the most famous hikes in Japan. The trail is off of the beaten path, so be sure to allow two days for this hike. Spend the first day climbing to just below the summit, enjoying the deep forest and crystalline mountain streams along the way. Set up camp, and in the morning, make that final push to the top, where you can take in views of the sunrise over the Japan Alps. Again, you can take a direct night bus from Tokyo or Osaka to Kamikochi, where this trail gets its start. At 3,180 meters (10,433 ft), this is the fifth-highest mountain in Japan.

1. Mount Senjo (Yamanashi/Nagano)

The 18th highest mountain in Japan at 3,032 meters (9,949 ft), Mount Senjo is a great place to catch views of the entire Japan Alps range, including both the Minami (Southern) and Chuo (Central) Alps. It's also one of the most forgiving climbs in the Alps, with little scrambling or technical ability required. The total trip takes anywhere from five to eight hours depending on your pace. Visitors can catch the Super Azusa train from Tokyo's Shinjuku Station to Kofu Station. Switch to the bus headed for Kitazawa-toge and alight at the final stop.