Explore the best trails in Japan with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.
A great hike of Hiei. Take the bus to Shugakuin. You'll see a river at the stop. walk along that river up to the trailhead (called Kirara-oka). You take that all the way up, no way to get lost. You will have to pay 600 yen to enter the facilities. You can return or walk through the temple compound and descend to Sakamoto station and ride that back to Kyoto. There are wild monkeys on the hike sometimes, but they won't approach you.
Directions: Get to Kyoto Station around 7-8, take #72 bus to Kiyotaki. From Kiyotaki Station, walk down the road into town to the shrine gate across the river. The road will ascend all the way up the 5 kilometer (3 mile) climb into the Atago Shrine area. There are several return routes. You can branch over the mountain to Takao, with a bus ride back, or go back through Getsurinji temple. The trail to these are located on the right next to the final stone steps up to Atago Shrine. Getsurinji is an ad hoc temple of a couple of Buddhist statue carving recluses that live on the mountain. Go down farther on this path and it leads to Kuuya Falls, a beautiful waterfall. You can return back by bus from Takao or from Kiyotaki.
I have a friend in Japan who took me to hike Fuji-San during the season everything around it opens (like the checkpoints). When I told him I wanted to hike it, he told me the thing to do is hike it at night and watch the sunrise from the top. We hiked it starting at 7:00pm, and climbed our way to the top by 3:00 am. There were literally thousands of other people hiking it with us, so at no point did I feel like I'd be stranded alone. Bring some cash because the checkpoints along the way have refreshments, snacks, and restrooms (it was a few hundred yen to use restrooms). Once at the top we had to rush to find a spot to sit down on the eastern side as by the time we had settled in there was practically standing room only, but it was entirely worth it once the sun came up. It was one of the most incredible experiences I've ever had, and I wish I could relive every moment of it.
The scenery is beautiful, of course, especially during cherry blossom season or fall foliage, but it really is more of a stroll than anything else. The path is flat for the most part; the plus side is that it's almost barrier-free / wheelchair-friendly, the downside is that it can be VERY crowded.
Beautiful hike that starts off casual with several miles along Azusa River without much elevation gain. After the first half it gets steeper, and the last 1 or 2 miles up to Mt.Yari itself are VERY steep with many switchbacks. The trail is well maintained with lots of signage in Japanese and English.
Getting up all the way to the peak requires scrambling, but there are ropes, chains and ladders that help. You don't have to be an experienced climber to do this, but you have to be sure-footed.
Depending on your fitness you will need at least 2 days to finish this hike; i highly recommend staying in or camping at Yarigatake Sanso, a mountain cabin at the foot of Mt. Yari. The early morning views are spectacular, you might even see Mt. Fuji on the horizon.
There are 2 other cabins with campgrounds along the way, so it's possible to turn this into a multi-day hike, maybe combining it with one of the other peaks in the area.
This is our hike up Mount Fuji (富士山 Fujisan). We did this on July 5th, just after the official hiking season opened and used the Yoshida Trail starting at the Fuji-Subaru 5th station. We traveled from Tokyo on a JR train (Chūō Main Line Rapid Service) to Ōtsuki Station, and then to Kawaguchiko on the Fujikyu Railway service. This website provided particularly good instructions on how to do this and it was easy.
We actually got off a couple stops before Kawaguchiko Station, at Fuji Station, where the bus to the Fuji-Subaru Line 5th station originates. If you wait until Kawaguchiko, the buses are crowded! http://www.japan-guide.com/bus/fuji.html
Video of our hike: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M__bgbq1cQs
We started from the 5th station at about noon. The length of Yoshida trail is approximately 3.6 miles on the way up (4824’ gain) and 4.3 miles on the route down. Deceptively short!! The trail starts off very easy and is a wide volcanic ash path with bits of shade along the way. By the time you get to the 6th station, about .9mi in, the trees have disappeared and the trail starts to ascend more steeply. DO NOT FORGET YOUR SUNSCREEN LIKE WE DID! Bring a lot of 100JPY coins, restroom use is 200JPY at each station. If you have a touristy Fuji walking stick, bring even more, as it takes 200-400JPY to get it branded at each station. Also, drinks get more expensive the higher you go, from 200JPY at the bottom to 500JPY near the top. As you approach the 7th station .6mi further, the trail starts to get very steep. We stayed at the Kamaiwa-kan hut at the 7th station (http://kamaiwakan.jpn.org/english/). It was easy to make a reservation online and was not too high up the trail. We got there late afternoon and rested until dinner at 6PM, then went to sleep until midnight when we continued our journey. A good headlamp is necessary and I’m glad I had my Zebralight with me. The trail is just relentless on the way up from the 7th station. By the time we got to the 8.5 station, it was time to watch the sun rise (4:20AM). The sun rises very early on Fuji! I was also glad for the rest because my lungs could not get enough air for me to move very quickly. After sunrise, we continued to the summit. This was the most difficult part of the hike for me and I needed rest every few minutes. My legs were fine, I just could not get enough air, which caused dizziness and short periods of nausea. The Yoshida Trail summit (12267') was a welcome sight! Because we hiked so early in the season, the summit shops were still closed, as were portions of the crater circumference trail. I was told these open up after the 15th of July. NO RESTROOM and NO WATER this time of year at the summit. I hiked around to the crater side of the buildings to see the crater, which was a spectacular sight. I’d never seen the crater of a volcano before. The wind was howling at around 40mph and the temps were in the mid 30s…with the clouds blowing through, it was wicked cold. The trail back down is different from the way up and consists of mostly soft ash, which is hard to walk on…kind of like hiking on the beach. My legs were dead by the time we got back to the 5th station bus 24hrs later. This hike was definitely worth it for me, has spectacular views, and was the 1st time I’d hiked at any real altitude, let alone 12K feet. One day I plan to get to Everest base station…I need to do more cardio if I’m even going to step foot near that place!