This post was contributed by David Lowe. I asked him to contribute after he dropped me a line and introduced me to his blog, Ridgeline Images. David is a passionate outdoorsman who hails from Melbourne, but has been living in Japan since 2007. He blogs about his hiking and sightseeing trips, as well as gear reviews and other musings, but my favourite part is the photos.
As a long term resident of Tokyo, the question usually arises what aspect I enjoy most about living here. For me that can be easily answered in the Japanese Alps.
While the majority of the populous is jammed into tight urban spaces, the natural environs surrounding the cities are surprisingly well cared for and often have stringent environmental regulations. Case in point are many of the hiking trails on the fringes of Tokyo; there is one particularly famous mountain known as Mount Takao which has upwards of 2.5 million visitors a year.
While such mountains make a nice escape for shorter outings, it’s those a little further afield that I regularly head out to explore.
Here is a short run down of three excellent day walks that are worth pencilling in for your next Japanese hiking holiday.
At the top of the list is the absolutely splendid Nishizawa Gorge in Yamanashi Prefecture. Located around 100 kilometres from downtown Tokyo, this relatively unknown gorge is famous for its crystal clear emerald waters. The circuit hike from the bus stop takes around 4 hours and transports you deep into the clutches of the ravine. While most popular during the autumn when the Japanese maple leaves are decidedly iridescent the hike can be undertaken year round though be prepared for snow and ice during the winter months.
This sacred mountain in Kanagawa Prefecture is the smaller sibling of Mount Tanzawa, one of the 100 Famous Japanese Mountains. Its close proximity to Tokyo and Yohohama means it’s always a major drawcard for mountain climbing, as well as religious pilgrimage. There are essentially two stages to the climb, with a cable car ferrying day trippers to the shrine half way up. From here a relatively steep trail rambles its way to the top. The rewards are significant with great views that suitably frame the Mount Fuji skyline. From the summit views also are afforded towards Yokohama and even the volcanic Oshima Island.
As one of the closest of the 100 Famous Japanese Mountains to Tokyo, Mount Daibosatsu was historically an important yet strenuous leg of the route from Tokyo to Nagano. During the spring and autumn when the skies are clearest, the mountain provides a wonderful vantage point to gaze over Mount Fuji. Again like so many hikes in Japan, the trail head can be accessed by train and a connecting bus service.
Ever been hiking in Japan? Got some killer trails to add to the list? Let us know by commenting below.