Japan is endowed with so many mountains, making hiking a popular activity for young and old alike. Through this activity, one can see and experience first hand the changes that happen to the scenery and activities through the seasons. Scenery is one of the major reasons why many people hike.
From the beautiful cherry blossoms in the spring to the snow covered mountains in the winter, hiking brings people somehow closer to nature. A great part of Japan’s landmass is made up of mountains, Mt. Fuji being the most popular of all. Mt. Fuji has been the object of mountain worship, model for many paintings, and goal for many climbers. Many people climb Mt. Fuji to watch the sunrise called Goraiko from the top. The mountain is officially open for climbing during July and August via several routes. These being summer months, the mountain is usually free of snow, with the weather mild and public transportation many. For those who are beginner climbers, it is strongly suggested that you schedule your Mt. Fuji hike on these official climbing months.
Another mountain that boasts of a variety of hiking courses, historic temples and a breathtaking view from the summit is Mt. Takao. Just an hour trip travelling west from Tokyo, Mt. Takao offers a unique blend of Japanese culture and beautiful nature. At the mountain is a statue of a ‘tengu,’ a long-nosed mythical figure, associated with the ancient Japanese practice of mountain worship to acquire magical and spiritual powers. Six well-maintained hiking courses starting from the foot of Mt. Takao and leading up to the 600-meter-high mountaintop allow visitors to learn about the nature of the mountain.
One can ride halfway up the mountain by cable car or lift, so that the remaining climb to the top is not so difficult. This takes about one-and-a-half hours. In summer a beer garden with a magnificent view is open at the half-way point. The Mt. Takao Natural Zoo and Botanical Garden, where you will be greeted by monkeys that roam freely throughout the area is also found near the cable car terminal.
For those who are interested in religious pilgrimage, there are 88 Buddhist temples that form part of a 40 day hike around Shikoku Island. There is also the spiritual Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route, a set of World Heritage listed trails around Wakayama prefecture. The quiet beauty of these places will surely revive your spirit and clear your mind off the hassles of the mundane world.
Photos from Japan Guide and akio designs