11 Best Day Hikes In Japan - A Day To Immerse In Nature Beauty

Japan is among the top-visited countries in Asia for its cultural heritage and delicious cuisine. But this country is also a paradise for anyone who wants to explore the world of hiking. Many hiking trails are designed all over the country with scenic views that can satisfy anyone. They are easily accessible too, which is convenient for visitors to pack their bag and go on the day. 

If you don’t have much time or simply want to enjoy the beautiful nature in a day when visiting this country, there are 11 Best Day Hikes In Japan you should try out:

  1. Yoshida trail
  2. Magome Tsumago trail  
  3. Omotesando trail
  4. Ebino Kogen trail
  5. Sharikimichi trail
  6. Choishi-Michi trail
  7. Shirakawa-go trail
  8. Tatni trail
  9. Fushimi-Inari pilgrimage
  10. Mount Shosha trail
  11. Daisho-in course

1. Yoshida Trail

Best day hikes in Japan - CabinZero

Yoshida trail is the most popular day hike route for climbing Fuji Mountain. Photo by KnoB - stock.keadobe.com

  • Location: Fuji Mountain, Kamiyoshida, Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi.
  • Distance: 12km
  • Duration: 8-12 hours
  • Level: Moderate

Open only from July to September after the rainy season, the Yoshida trail is the most popular day hike route to climb Fuji Mountain. It is the easiest way to reach the top of the mountain among the four routes and has the most facilities.

Thus, it’s a great day hike for beginners and professionals alike in Japan (if it’s your first time hiking, remember to pack the right gear).

The ascent of this trail starts from the Fuji-Subaru Line 5th Station, which is around 7km long. The most challenging part might be from the 7th to the 8th station, where the height and terrain change and more rocks appear.

From the 8th station, the Yoshida and Subashiri trails will converge all the way to the summit and down. So when going down the descent, don’t forget to pay attention to the sign. 

Due to its popularity, this trail is packed with facilities like a cafe, post office, huts, etc. Therefore, the experience might be much like a tourist trip to admire the view from atop. However, this doesn’t mean that this trail is easy to finish.

2. Magome-Tsumago Trail

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Magome Tsumago trail is a part of the ancient Nakasendo. Picture by pen_ash on Unsplash.

  • Location: Kiso Valley, Nagano
  • Distance: 8km
  • Duration: 2-3 hours
  • Level: Easy

The Magome Tsumago trail connects two old villages named Magome and Tsumago of the Kiso Valley. This trail is popular for being a part of Nakasendo - a road to travel from Tokyo to Kyoto during the Edo Period.

Walking on this trail, you will go straight through the forest and the countryside. The trip will be quite leisurely with the houses and shops that are preserved to look just the way they were when served travellers of the Nakasendo, as well as the scenic view of fields and hills.

Some parts of this trail intersect with the asphalt road and there is also a baggage-forwarding service, so no need to worry if you are a beginner. There is also a nice rest stop in the middle of the trail, where you will be served snacks and tea inside a traditional house with various historical artefacts.

3. Omotesando Trail

Best day hikes in Japan - CabinZero

Takao Mountain is a popular day hike near Tokyo. Photo by picture cells - stock.adobe.com

  • Location: Takao Mountain, Hachiōji, Tokyo
  • Distance: 4km
  • Duration: 1-2 hours
  • Level: Easy.

The Omotesando trail, also known as Trail Number 1, belongs to Takao Mountain, a natural recreation area one hour from central Tokyo by train. It is the most popular trail among the five trails of the mountain and undoubtedly one of the best day hikes in Japan. 

The trail is mainly paved and has many attractions. It is also equipped with cable cars and chairlifts, and it is friendly to beginner hikers and even children.

You can begin the hike from the train station. You can visit the Yakuoin Temple and the monkey park along the way. The cable car’s top station will also have an observation deck with a stunning view of Tokyo. If you have the chance, visit this place during spring (from March to May) to enjoy the lovely pink petals of cherry blossom.

4. Ebino Kogen Trail

Best day hikes in Japan - CabinZero

Ebino Kogen (or Ebino Plateau) is home to one of Japan's most active volcanic groups. 663highland, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Location: Karakuni Mountain, Kirishima, Kagoshima
  • Distance: 10.5km
  • Duration: 5-6 hours
  • Level: Easy

This trail leads you to Karakuni Mountain, the highest peak of active volcanoes in the Kirishima National Park, and Onami-like Lake. The trailhead starts at the Information Centre of Ebino Kogen, where you can get more information about the Volcanoes or prepare food and water.

Once you start, it will take around 1 hour and 40 minutes to reach the Karakuni summit, which offers a stunning overview of the National Park from 1,700m above sea level. You can also see other volcanoes in the Kirishima mountain range and even Kinkowan Bay.

Hiking down from the peak, you will soon get to the famous Onami-ike Lake. This is Japan’s highest crater lake, where you can admire the beautiful deep blue water surrounded by the greenery of the trees. The circumference of the lake is around 1.9km, which will take around 1 hour and 30 minutes to finish.

According to the hikers, the road is paved and well-preserved. Therefore, it’s pretty easy for anyone to hike this trail. And if you visit this trail from May to June, you might be able to see the Kyushu azaleas bloom brightly.

If you only want to hike around the crater lake, you can start at the Onami Lake trailhead. This way, it will only take around 40 minutes to the first viewpoint of the lake. However, this trailhead isn’t as big and full of facilities as the one at the Information Center.

5. Sharikimichi Trail

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The famous “view to hell” at Nokogiri Mountain. Picture by wanderplans.com on Unsplash.

  • Location: Nokogiri Mountain, Futtsu, Chiba
  • Distance: 5km
  • Duration: 2-4 hours
  • Level: Easy

This trail is only 2 hours away from Tokyo and is usually mentioned as a “view to hell”. This is because of its famous edge cliff with a view of Tokyo. Despite the “dangerous” name, the Sharikimichi trail is actually beginner-friendly.

Though the height doesn’t fluctuate much, certain spots aren’t marked clearly, which can make you confused. You should bring along a map to make sure you’re heading in the right direction. And you can always choose the ropeway or cable cars if you don’t want to hike for long. 

On the top of the mountain, you can see the famous Jigoku Nozoki cliff and the largest cliff-carved Buddha in Japan. Leading to the giant Buddha will be 1500 Arhat statues with different facial expressions and hundreds of small Jizo statues.

6. Choishi-Michi Trail

Best day hikes in Japan - CabinZero

You’ll find 180 of these stone signposts (choishi) that mark the way every few hundred feet. Photo by beibaoke - stock.adobe.com

  • Location: Koya Mountain, Ito, Wakayama
  • Distance: 24km
  • Duration: 7 hours
  • Level: Moderate

Koya Mountain (or Koyasan) is a famous pilgrimage site in Japan, with over 100 temples. The Choishi-Michi trail is the original way to enter this sacred place. The trailhead is at Kudoyama Station on the Nankai Koya Line, but you can save time by starting at Kami-Kosawa or Kii-Hosokawa Stations.

The Choishi-Michi trail is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to the kanji stone pillars that hikers used to mark the route since the Kamakura time.

Currently, the Choishi-Michi trail is marked as closed due to damage from the rain in 2023. However, according to the hikers, there are only a few landslides that are easily passed. That said, you shouldn’t risk it and wait until there’s an official reopening.

7. Shirakawa-go Trail

Best day hikes in Japan - CabinZero

Shirakawa-go village is famous for its unique houses. Photo by alon - stock.adobe.com

  • Location: Ono, Gifu
  • Distance: 2-3km
  • Duration: 30 mins-1 hour
  • Level: Easy

This Japanese day hike is a loop up to the hills and around the famous Shirakawa-go village. The trail winds through the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Shirakawa-go, which is known for its traditional gassho-style farmhouses with distinctive thatched roofs.

Hiking the trail offers stunning views of these picturesque villages nestled amidst the Japanese Alps. However, this is more of a walk-through of an old village rather than a hiking walk.

Surrounded by hills and forests, you can easily choose the route to different viewpoints or go back, depending on your liking. On the way, there are local temples, ancient houses and museums to explore.

8. Tatni Trail

  • Location: Shiretoko, Hokkaido
  • Distance: 5.2km
  • Duration: 2 hours 
  • Level: Easy

Shiretoko National Park is a famous destination in Japan for any nature lover. It is a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site with various flora and fauna and beautiful views.

Tatni trail (or Bokyo-no-Mori) is a trekking course in the Rausu area, located near the central town. Despite being easily accessible, the trail is quiet and offers a relaxing atmosphere. You will pass through Erman's birch forest and the Tatni-usu River.

After finishing the loop, you can join in different activities at the National Park, such as kayaking, diving, visiting the famous lakes and waterfalls, etc. A little notice is that this place usually has brown bears, so make sure you know what to do if you encounter one.

9. Fushimi-Inari Pilgrimage

Best day hikes in Japan - CabinZero

More than 10,000 tori create a hall at Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine. Picture by Adrien Bruneau on Unsplash.

  • Location: Inari Mountain, Fushimi, Kyoto
  • Distance: 5km
  • Duration: 3 hours 
  • Level: Moderate

The Fushimi-Inari trail leads to the famous Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine. This head shrine dedicated to Inari kami - the Shinto god of rice and prosperity - can be reached after making your way through a tunnel of over 10,000 tori (traditional red shrine gate of Japan). Along the trail, there are various smaller shrines, cultural heritages, and a wonderful view.

This is one of the most popular pilgrimages in Japan, so be prepared to get crowded and squeezed with hundreds of visitors. After getting to the head shrine, you can choose to climb up to the 233-m peak of the mountain or turn back down.

If you choose to go up, there will be different shrines where you can make a wish. A popular stop will be the stone lanterns with Omokaru Ishi (round rocks for wishing). Here, people will make a wish and then lift the Omokaru Ishi. If they are lighter than expected, then the wish will come true.

Once you reach the Kami-no-Yashiro shrine, you finally reach the top of Inari Mountain. Enjoy the breathtaking view and take a break. Don’t forget to visit the waterfall at Yakurikisha on the way down. This is where severe Shinto worshippers pray under the water.

10. Mount Shosha Trail

Best day hikes in Japan - CabinZero

Do try to visit the temples here. Photo by Red Pagoda - stock.adobe.com

  • Location: Himeji, Hyogo
  • Distance: 6km
  • Duration: 2-3 hours 
  • Level: Moderate

Mount Shosha is famous for its Engyoji Temple, which has more than 1,000 years of history. After reaching Shosha Mountain by bus, look for the signs that mark the trailhead to begin your journey.

This trail is not for beginners, as there are rocky paths and build-up stairs. If you are not sure about your hiking capability, you can choose the ropeway or the cable car.

The buildings of Engyoji Temple are spread over the mountaintop. After passing the Niomon Gate, you will find various wooden temple halls named Maniden, Daikodo, Jikido, and Jogyodo. At the final spot, there is the Kaizando temple with a large Buddha statue.

11. Daisho-in Course

Best day hikes in Japan - CabinZero

Misen Mountain has a view of the Seto Inland Sea. Photo by niradj - stock.adobe.com

  • Location: Misen Mountain, Itsukushima, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima
  • Distance: 6km
  • Duration: 2-3 hours 
  • Level: Moderate

Misen Mountain is the highest peak on Miyajima. It is famous for its beautiful view and is a sacred place for religion. You can get to the peak by cable car or through various trails. But the Daisho-in course is considered the least steep and most beautiful route.

The trailhead of the Daisho-in Course is at the Daisho-in Temple. On the way to the peak, there will be many destinations you can visit. 

Two places you shouldn’t pass are the Misen Main Hall and the Hall of the Spiritual Flame. The second hall, also known as Reikado, preserves the fire Kobo Daishi lit when he began worshipping the mountain, which means it’s over 1,200 years old.

Besides the historical shrines, if you are lucky, you might encounter deer and monkeys in the Misen Virgin Forest.

The summit of Misen Mountain is gifted with a panoramic view of Hiroshima City and Seto Inland Sea. You can relax at the Shishi-iwa Observatory, have lunch and admire the glittering blue water.

H2. Follow your path

Above is a list of the best day hikes in Japan for beginners and professional hikers. Keep in mind that the duration is only estimated, and how fast you hike is entirely up to your liking. The most important thing when hiking is to enjoy the journey.

Japan is undoubtedly one of the best places in the world for its natural scenery. Which trail will you pick when you get the chance to visit this charming nation? Tell us all about it in the comments below. And don’t forget to share this post with your friends or anyone planning to visit Japan.

Claire Thuc

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