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Mountain Day is a holiday for the sole purpose of giving you time to appreciate Japan’s mountains. What better way to celebrate the occasion than a hike up some of the best that the country has to offer?
Of course, there’s Mt. Fuji, but to only have climbed Fuji during your time in Japan is a shame. Hundreds of other peaks provide drop-dead gorgeous views, are more accessible and are located just around the corner from wherever you are—no matter what prefecture you’re in. Let’s start with five of them.
Here are five incredible mountains to hike in Japan.
1. Mount Shibutsu, Gunma
If you’re up for a picturesque and challenging hike, head to Mt. Shibutsu, just a few hours from Tokyo. Shibutsu, which is perennially on lists of the “100 best mountains in Japan,” is located within Oze National Park in Gunma Prefecture.
A nature retreat in the Kanto region, Oze is covered in preserved marshland areas with crystal-clear streams and wooden walking paths. You could go to Oze for a light hike, but the nearly 400-kilometer park also includes several other peaks. Stay in a nearby mountain inn and get an early start to your hike, but bring plenty of water as it can take up to five hours.
2. Mount Daibosatsu, Yamanashi
This one is an easy day trip from Tokyo, as well as a moderate hike. Daibosatsu provides one of the best views of Mt. Fuji on a cloudless day. It can be a two- to four-hour hike, depending on which way up or down the mountain you go. To be sure, take a bus up to the main starting point. The easiest place to stay nearby is Katsunuma, Japan’s wine country. This spot allows for the best of Japan: onsen, wine and nature.
3. Mount Kurama, Kyoto
The hike up the mountain takes about two to three hours and is suitable for beginners.
Mt. Kurama is known as the birthplace of reiki, a relaxing onsen getaway and is filled with so much nature. Pay a visit to Kurama-dera, the biggest temple complex in the mountain that is also home to national treasures. Whether you choose to take the cable car or hike all the way to the top the view from the summit is beautiful in any season.
4. Mount Aso, Kumamoto
As the largest active volcano in Japan and one of the largest in the world, Mt. Aso is a must-see for anyone traveling in Kumamoto. At 1,592 meters above sea level, it also boasts five soaring peaks and one amazing caldera. In the area are Aso City, Aso Takamori-cho and the Southern Aso Village, plus other outdoor activities from hiking to horseback riding to hot springs.
5. Mount Takao, Tokyo
Less than three hours from central Shinjuku, Mt. Takao offers a variety of trails for every hiker. For the less athletically inclined, Takaosanguchi Station is only a few steps away from the cable car or ropeway station that takes passengers halfway up the mountain. Most of the hiking trails take about 90 minutes to complete.
The summit boasts scenic panoramic views of the surrounding areas and Mt. Fuji on a clear day. End your excursion with a dip at the onsen near the station or drop by the Trick Art Museum.