The Chubu region of Japan is a large region at the center of the country and is marked by beautiful mountains, forests, valleys, and rivers. Though each of the best hikes in Chubu offer breathtakingly gorgeous scenery, the best possible words that describe the hiking trails of the region are "Significantly Historic". At the very top of Chubu's (and Japan's) hiking destinations stands iconic Mount Fuji. Arguably the most popular hiking destination in the whole country, Fujisan wows hikers with its rugged landscape and sights from the four different climbing trails, with the sunrise view from the summit nothing short of awe-inspiring. For nature-loving travelers simply happy with viewing the beauty of the iconic mountain, the surrounding Fuji Five Lakes region is the best spot to spot the snow-capped peak peeking out between the clouds, with other smaller mountains available to hike in the vicinity. Discover the trails of the enchanting Izu Peninsula, where hiking trails lead by the famed Seven Waterfalls of Kawazu, which are especially lovely during the spring and autumn season. Or take the Nakasendo Trail that heads through historic Kiso Valley, in a beginner-friendly hike that takes travelers through the charming post towns that flourised during the Edo period, past rows of old-fashioned wooden houses and shops. Hiking up through Gifu, Nagano, and Niigata prefectures finds you enjoying incredible views of the Japanese Alps. A gorgeous land that furnishes hikers with idyllic mountain scenery and wildlife, the alpine beauties of Japan are every bit as beauteous as their Swiss counterparts, with trekking trails for every challenge level. Try out one of the best hikes in Chubu during your next Japan hiking tour!
The Izu Peninsula is the portion of Fuji-Izu-Hakone National Park located in Shizuoka Prefecture, and is famed for its variety of gorgeous landscapes including coastlines, waterfalls, rugged mountains, cliffs, and rocky islets. The Jogasaki Coast offers scenic views of the rugged natural coastline and rocky shore, with hiking trails leading over 10 kilometers, with its most popular section featuring the Kadowakizaki Suspension Bridge. The Seven Waterfalls of Kawazu are one of the Izu Peninsula's biggest charm points. Hikers are beckoned through a verdant trail lined with lush jungle scenery to seven equally spectacular waterfalls. Be sure not to miss the two statues commemorating the famed Izu Dancer, a short story by Nobel-winner Yasunari Kawabata. Further down the peninsula, the hiking trails reach towards the charming town of Shimoda - famed in history as one of the ports first opened to western trade at the end of the Edo period.
Explore the Mount Fuji Hiking Trails, especially from July to early September when the routes up the mountain are fully opened. Mount Fuji is the crown jewel of Japan's beauteous landscape, and hiking up the iconic mount is almost a rite of passage for adventurous travelers coming to Japan. There are four main routes up the to the summit, each with varying levels of difficulty. The Yoshida route is perhaps the easiest, attracting the majority of climbers, and is well supplied by a few charming huts scattered here and there up the path. The next is the Fujinomiya Trail, which is less traveled than Yoshida and equal in difficulty. The Subashiri Trail is more difficult - a more challenging option for travelers looking for a route with fewer climbers. Finally, the Gotemba trail is the longest and most difficult route up the mountain, featuring more open, unspoiled nature, but with less opportunities to resupply, and with portions that recommend climbing gear. Along the way be prepared to be wowed by incredible views of the world through the sea of clouds, which roll over the rocks like waves the higher you climb. Hikers often commemorate the visit with the purchase of a special climbing stick before the climb, which can be branded with special stamps at the huts up the Yoshida trail.
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Mount Fuji Hiking Trails
The Fuji Five Lakes region, or "Fujigoko" is at the base of Mount Fuji, and refers specifically to the Saiko, Yamanakako, Shojiko, Motosuko, and Kawaguchiko Lakes at the base of the majestic peak. The lakes offer wondrous trails for hikers to enjoy, even on overcast summer days that don't permit a good view of Fuji. Lake Kawaguchiko offers the best opportunities for a good view on clearer days, and the surrounding trails, caves, nature parks, and shrines means that the trip is enchanting even when it's shrouded in fog. Lake Motosuko offers more raw, unspoiled nature than Kawaguchiko. There is an 11.4-mile loop around the lake that features a viewpoint for Fuji captured as the reverse image for the 1000-yen bill, making it one of the most famous nature sights in Japan. The hike goes up "Dragon's Peak" - a smaller mountain west of Fuji. The largest lake in Fuji Five Lakes, Lake Yamanakako, provides an easy walking / cycling path around the shore. The other lakes have their own trails as well, and can be enjoyed year round, but are especially lovely in spring and autumn.
Fuji Five Lakes
Kamikochi is a high river valley in the northern Japanese Alps in Nagano prefecture. This stunning location within Chubu-Sangaku National Park is considered one of Japan's most beautiful and breathtaking mountain resort locations, and is sometimes called "the Yosemite Valley of Japan" by visiting travelers. In the early summer Kamikochi is lush and green, and nature-loving visitors enjoy hiking the various nature trails running along the clear blue Azusa River, which range from beginner to expert level in difficulty. Enjoy the delightful mountain and forest scenery full of local wildlife, including the curious Japanese macaque, or "snow monkey". Kamikochi is open to hike year round, and features a peaceful blanket of snow in winter and bright red leaves in autumn.
Another magnificent mountain in the northern Japanese Alps, Mount Norikura is a volcanic mountain bordering Nagano and Gifu prefectures. Mount Norikura is one of the first places in Japan to see the change in the fall foliage, with its abundant leaves reddening around mid-September. It is one of Japan's 100 famous mountains, and has some well-maintained, easy hiking trails around the peak, even to Kengamine - the highest point of Mount Norikura. The winter trail is also popular for its snowy mountain trails through the woods, with natural slopes that attract skiiers to enjoy Mount Norikura's natural splendor.
The Nakasendo is an old walking route from the Edo period, and was one of the main roads for nobles, samurai, and merchants traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto. The weathered stone along the road maintains the Nakasendo's old world feel, and the quaint post towns one passes along the way makes the walk truly enchanting, as though having stepped back in time 300 years. The original Nakasendo Road connected several prefectures, and one of the prettiest and most well-maintained portions of the road stretches between Magome and Tsumago in the Kiso Valley, in Nagano and Gifu prefectures. The relaxing hike can be taken at a leisurely pace on a mixed stone and pavement path perfect for beginning hikers. On every side travelers will see old-fashioned Japanese houses built of wood and stone, and surrounded by lush forest scenery. Both Magome and Tsumago work to maintain their Edo-era aesthetic, and while walking through the towns and visiting the charming shops, travelers feel surrounded in an atmosphere of traditional Japanese hospitality.
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The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is an incredibly gorgeous mountain pass through the Northern Japan Alps. Spring is the best season to enjoy this spectacular route, when traversing the path between Bijodaira and Murodo (the highest point on the route) includes an enchanting trek through the Tateyama Snow Corridor. Twenty-foot high walls of snow and ice create the still atmosphere of winter - almost as though you are walking between two glaciers during an Ice Age. This walk is enjoyable for beginner-level hikers or children, and the most scenic parts of the route are accessible by cable car, train, ropeway, and bus. Autumn is also a favorite season for hiking the Alpine Route, where splendid vistas of mountains framed in fiery autumn colors create a landscape that captivates artists and nature-loving travelers.
Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
The Japanese Alps is the name of a series of magnificent mountain ranges, an idyllic dream for hikers and trekkers, stretching between Niigata and Shizuoka Prefectures. These spectacular mountains took on this name since it was first climbed by foreign hikers during the Meiji Era, and are divided into three ranges: the Northern, Central, and Southern Alps. They include everything one could want from the perfect Japan mountain hiking trip: dazzling alpine scenery, relaxing natural hot springs, hidden mountain villages, cultural treasures, both rustic hotels and well-maintained campgrounds, and gorgeous routes that appeal to hikers of every level. Top Spots to include on your hiking trip include the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, Jigokudani, Kamikochi, the Kiso Valley Nakasendo Road, Mount Kita-dake, Mount Hotaka-dake, and Shirakawa-go Historic Village. June to late October is the top season to enjoy hiking the Japanese Alps - when the rest of the country feels the heat and humidity of mid-summer, though there are portions of the Alps that are picturesque at other times of the year.
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The Japanese Alps
Mount Hakusan is Japanese for "White Mountain", and is a dormant volcano bordering Gifu and Ishikawa prefectures. As one of Japan's Three Sacred Peaks (with Mount Fuji and Mount Tateyama), the mountain is one of Japan's National Parks and a favored hiking spot of the region. Early summer to Autumn (from June to October) is the climbing season for the stunning peak, which becomes snowed in during winter. Most travelers enjoy hiking the Bettodeai Trail, connecting to one of two trails up to the summit, which is possible to reach in the course of a day with an early start. The hike is also a popular pilgrimage route for those interested in Japanese folk spirituality: a satellite of Shirayamahime Shrine stands at the summit. Because Hakusan is a dormant volcano, there are many natural hot spring baths open in the region. Birding hikers will also enjoy the region for the opportunity to sight the local golden eagle (Ishikawa's prefectural bird) and the rock ptarmigan.