Tips & Tricks for Hiking Japan

Hike the beautiful mountains and forests of Japan with ease by following these simple hiking tips.

#1 Plan your route ahead of time. Japan’s trail signs are rarely in English, so do your research beforehand. Do you prefer a difficult hike up-hill or a leisurely stroll through the woods? How many miles are you willing to trek? Would you rather hike an out-and-back or loop trail? If you have trouble finding the perfect trail, Yokota Outdoor Recreation’s (ODR) staff can help.

Once you’ve chosen a trail, plan your transportation. Japan’s trains can oftentimes be a convenient way to travel. Still, it’s important to have a general idea of where you’re going as high elevations and dense forest can lead to poor GPS signals and the train station — although usually close by — is rarely adjacent to the trail head.

If driving, research nearby parking availability as some hiking areas have little-to-no parking.

#2 Wear appropriate clothing and bring suitable gear. Check the weather when considering what gear to bring. Japan experiences all four seasons and the weather can drastically vary from town to town. Hiking shoes are preferable but sneakers are acceptable for short, leisurely treks. Wear broken-in shoes to prevent blisters. Bring a rain jacket and wear water-resistant pants as it rains frequently in Japan. A comfortable hiking pack prevents soreness. If you lack the necessary gear, ODR has plenty of hiking equipment available for rent.

#3 Pack accordingly. Consider the trail length and difficulty as well as the temperature when determining how much water to bring. Bring starchy, energy-packed foods such as rice balls and granola bars. “Conbini,” or convenience stores, and rest stops sell an array of travel-friendly snacks. When hiking at night, bring a headlamp.

If planning your own trip is more than you want to tackle, leave the logistics to ODR. Join one of the upcoming trips — Three Peak Trek at Okutama available for sign up now and Hiking and Relaxing Onsen at Mitake available for sign up 18 October.