Just one more step. That’s the mantra. Through fatiguing legs, panting breath and beads of sweat starting to form on your skin, you keep telling yourself to push through to your goal – the mountain summit. In spite of the constant, nagging thought telling you how nice it would be to take a rest, you persist.
And when the treeline finally parts, the sky opens up wide and the horizon stretches out to the edge of the earth, beautiful beyond reason, you know it was all worth it.
Mountains in Japan offer some spectacular views no matter where you go. Since more than 70% of Japan is mountainous, you’re sure to find amazing vistas and great hiking experiences regardless of where you live.
Check out a few of our favourites with scenery that need to be seen to be believed.
Mountains in Tokyo
No need for an extended trip, panoramic views are everywhere in Japan! Start your ascent with these scenic summits in Tokyo.
Takaosan (高尾山) is conveniently located under an hour away from central Tokyo. It’s just 90 minutes to the summit, making it a perfect day trip. For beginners, try using Trail 1 for an easy hike along broad, elevated paths. If you’re more experienced, try Trail 6 or the Inariyama trail.
You’ll enjoy views of dense woodlands separating you from the sprawl of Tokyo beyond. Take a rest at a temple, macaque monkey park, or a nature museum on the way to the top.
Okutama (奥多摩) is in the western-most part of Tokyo. It’s about 90 minutes away from the city center via the JR Chuo line. There, you’ll find the best area of Tokyo to experience raw nature in Japan. 5 mountains, 2 rivers, 2 lakes, and quaint, rural towns are all waiting to be explored. Two great places to start are Mt. Mitake and Mt. Kumotori.
The wide open views of forests, rolling mountains, and a historical shrine draw hikers to the 929 metre summit of Mitakesan (御岳山). Make a day trip out of a hike to the summit, or book a night in one of the cozy inns nearby to take in the connected network of trails all day long.
You might want to check out the mossy Rock Garden path that leads to Ayahiro Falls either way.
At the top, you’ll be rewarded with a wide-open view that you won’t believe is so close to Tokyo. The expanse of forests and mountains stretch out into the horizon, reaching into the open skies above.
If you’re looking for more of a challenge, try ascending the peak of Kumotorisan (雲取山). Mt. Kumotori is the highest point in all of Tokyo, standing at an impressive 2,017 metres high. The gently sloped trail to the top makes it fairly easy to get going.
But, the 12 kilometre hike takes about 7 hours to complete. So, spending the night at one of the mountain’s tatami huts or reserve campsites is recommended.
On a clear day, you’ll get to enjoy an unobstructed, panoramic view of all the surrounding nature of Japan and even catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji.
Mountains near Tokyo
Let’s branch out a bit further. The surrounding areas of Tokyo are home to plenty of must-see destinations too!
Kamakura (鎌倉市) is a popular tourist destination about 2 hours away from Tokyo via the JR Yokosuka line. The wealth of traditional temples, pretty scenery and proximity to the ocean give this seaside city a unique charm that shouldn’t be missed.
For a nice hike, try the Daibutsu Hiking Trail that’s part of a larger network of Kamakura trails. It’s an easy path that’s popular with locals and tourists alike. You’ll end up at an 11+ metre tall bronze Buddha statue (also called daibutsu: 大仏), the second largest of its kind in Japan.
Nikko National Park
Nikko-she (日光市) is a haven for hikers in the form of a spread of peaks around this mountainous Tochigi city. The long, intermediate trails here wind around views of lush wildflower fields and gorges and waterways below.
To access this massive network of trails head to Nasudake (那須岳); it’s the heart of Nikko’s mountain ranges and an ancient volcanic eruption site.
No list of mountains in Japan is complete without its most famous peak – Fujisan (富士山). The trails are only open from July to September, so plan your visit accordingly.
While anyone in decent shape should be able to make it to the summit, you should prepare and not take this nearly 4,000 metre peak lightly. The climb takes 7 hours in total but ascending slowly is a must to avoid altitude sickness. Staying in a mountain hut to rest a night is highly advised if you are planning to hike up through the night to catch the sunrise in the morning.
Read through the official safety tips before your trip to make the climb a smooth experience.
Mountains outside of Tokyo
Of course, mountains in Japan exist well beyond Tokyo too. If you live in other parts of the country, you can find some of the most beautiful mountains in Japan within these four gorgeous regions below.
The capital of Yamanashi Prefecture, Kōfu-shi (甲府市), is surrounded by mountains on all sides making it an ideal place to live for avid hikers. The city is 2 hours away from Tokyo and living in Kōfu offers a more idyllic alternative to Japan’s metropolis.
Look to Kinpusan (金峰山) for the highest and most rewarding climb in the area. The summit reaches up 2599 metres, a hike that takes about 7 hours roundtrip. Reaching the peak will reward you with a celestial view of unspoiled nature in Japan.
The seaside Fukuoka-shi (福岡市) is known for its oceans and great quality of life, but there are some excellent chances for hiking too. Two solid options are Sefurisan (脊振山) and Aburayama (油山).
Try Sefurisan for the highest peak in Fukuoka at just over 1000 metres with unobstructed views of nature. Or for a wonderful cityscape vista, climb the more modest 597 metre Aburayama.
Sapporo-shi (札幌市) is the capital city of Japan’s northern Hokkaido Prefecture. Living in Sapporo is a wonderful option for people who want a big city feeling without the bustle or crowds of cities like Tokyo. You’ll have plenty of chances to enjoy Hokkaido’s natural scenery including mountain hikes.
Sapporo’s mountains are well-suited for beginners with peaks under 500 metres at Murayama (丸山), Hakkenzansan (八剣山), or Sankakusan (三角山). Or check out Moiwasan (藻岩山) at night for a stunning view of the sparkling city lights of Sapporo.
There’s more to life in Kobe (神戸) than eating the world-famous beef. The port city has plenty to see and do including mountain climbing!
A 56 kilometre range of peaks called Rokkōsan (六甲山) is the best place to start. Mayasan (摩耶山) is the most popular for its stellar night view. Or you might try Iwakurasan (岩倉山) for something a bit more rugged, with a traditional stone shrine at its summit.
Experience mountains in Japan
As any hiker will tell you, photos can never quite capture the profound feeling of standing on a mountain summit and realising just how big and beautiful the natural world. The only way to enjoy these views and experience all the natural beauty Japan has to offer is seeing it live, in person.
Contact us to find out how to start your life in Japan and see it all for yourself. Or discover more amazing Japanese destinations on our blog.