Long Distance Hiking in Japan
Replies: 9 - Last Post: Mar 20, 2013 10:34 AM Last Post By: hakatasaki
Feb 5, 2013 2:28 AM
Long Distance Hiking in JapanHi,
Does Japan have any long-distance hiking trails? Is it possible (I'm sure it's possible, but I mean, would it make for a nice hike) to walk along the backbone of Honshu for, say, a couple of weeks or longer? I would really like to visit Japan, but don't have a budget that stretches even to ordinary backpacking in the country, and think that taking a long walk through the Japanese countryside would be a lovely way to spend some time in Japan without breaking the bank. Any suggestions on routes, or ideas on how feasible this might be?
Feb 5, 2013 2:43 AM
Feb 5, 2013 3:02 AM
2I imagine that walking along the backbone of Honshu would mean mountains most of the way. So if your interest is mostly in nature/landscape, you could be happy. You'd probably want to carry camping equipment in this case.
If you are more into Japanese culture than nature, you might prefer closer to civilization.
Perhaps look into the 88 temple pilgrimage on Shikoku or follow one of the old roads (e.g. Tokaido), though the latter might make you walk along roads for at least some of the way.
Feb 5, 2013 3:49 AM
3Japan has several long-distance hiking trails, though I don't know anyone who has hiked any of them and I believe most info on these hikes - unlike the hikes in, say Lonely Planet's Hiking in Japan - is mostly in Japanese. Scroll down to the Japan entry on this page for a starter list . I expect it would take a fair amount of research and planning to undertake any of these trips.
Feb 5, 2013 5:30 AM
4I'd follow #2 advice and look at the Shikoku loop...I've done some parts of it,and enjoyed it a lot.Beautiful scenery and generally well maintained trails.Speaking some Japanese is not a bad idea...you won't see many foreigners along the way ;-)
Feb 5, 2013 10:36 AM
5The Tokai Nature Trail is probably the closest thing to what you have in mind. Unfortunately there's not much information about it in English.
You could walk either the Tokaido or the Nakasendo between Tokyo and Kyoto in around three weeks. In terms of "countryside" scenery the Nakasendo is better, but both involve walking along roads for much of the time.
Feb 9, 2013 6:40 AM
6Thanks for the tips. The Tokai Nature Trail and Nakasendo definitely sound like the sort of thing I'm looking for. I suppose I'd probably prefer the route through the mountains. The lack of English information is going to be a bit of a problem though, because I do not speak Japanese.
#5 - Have you walked either of these trails yourself? When you say roads, do you mean paved roads with regular through traffic, or pistes through the fields with little more than tractors or village-to-village cars? Do you have any idea how I'd go about getting English information on these trails? I suppose there's no English-language guidebook for either of the trails (do Japanese-language guidebooks exist for these trails?). Do you know if these trails are way-marked? Can you buy a set of maps (Japanese maps would be fine) for either trail?
#2 and #4 - I think I prefer the idea of walking on Honshu, but I know next to nothing about Shikoku. Could you give me an explanation of what the Shikoku loop is?
#1 - I've heard great things about bicycling in Japan, but have very little personal experience with bicycle touring and have no equipment for it (where as I do have everything I need for a long hike with me already). Maybe next time...
Feb 9, 2013 2:02 PM
7I think with roads we mean paved roads with regular traffic, so I guess it is more for somebody interested in following an old road than for somebody looking for pretty environments.
No idea about the Tokai Nature Trail. My guess would be that most any information would be Japanese only.
As for the Shikoku loop: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shikoku_Pilgrimage
There are some blogs or trip reports in English out there which you should be able to locate searching for "shikoku pilgrimage 88 temples" or some such. Also check the thorntree archive. While not on the main tourist track, some foreigners have done the loop and reported back. Without Japanese language I would expect it to be easier than the Tokai Nature trail.
Feb 10, 2013 9:03 PM
I've walked the Nakasendo, but not the Tokai Nature Trail. You can read a dairy of my Nakasendo walk here:
It's in reverse order, so scroll down to the bottom and read from there. There are also a few links (Under "Nakasendo/Tokaido links" on the left) if you're interested in reading more about the Nakasendo. But to answer your main question, a lot of the trail is along modern, paved, busy roads. So maybe it's not the sort of thing you're looking for.
Mar 20, 2013 10:34 AM
9There is a trans Kyushu trail that is mostly in the mountains. It is well used locally for day trips up mountains but almost nobody walks the trail itself.
How about following one of the old Kaido roads from Kyoto to Yamaguchi. Most would be parallel to major roads and rail lines and much would be urban however quit a bit would be through mountain passes and there are plenty of interesting historical places in the old post station towns.
I walked the Nagasaki Kaido. It is about 230 km from Tokiwa bridge in Kitakyushu to Nagasaki straight but I am sure I walked well over 500 km as I often got sidetracked and got lost a couple of times. It was one of the best things I have ever done.
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