Whether you’re looking for a multi-day outdoor adventure or just some natural beauty to refresh your thoughts, Japan’s gorgeous national parks are waiting for you.
National parks can be a nice respite for individuals tired of the hustle and bustle of city life or a refreshing break from the routine of an office job. Perhaps you’ve grown tired of the vista from your daily commute and want to see Japan’s off-the-beaten-path destinations.
Here’s a list of Japan’s 5 national parks for you to visit.
The first two are both located in Kanto-Koushinetsu. The third and fourth parks, which represent Japan’s northern and southernmost regions, are located in Hokkaido and Okinawa, respectively. Finally, on the eastern side of the Kii Peninsula, you’ll come to a park with gorgeous scenery.
1. Visit the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park
The iconic cone-shaped volcano of Japan, Mount Fuji, is the focal point of this vibrant national park, but there are many more great things to see here. Shiraito Falls, for example, provides a stunning 360-degree panorama of a chorus of waterfalls. Otodome Falls, a nearby cascade, is also worth seeing. The falls are at their most powerful in late spring and early summer, when it funnels the flow of melting snow from Fuji-san.
For your exploration of the Izu Peninsula, Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park has developed a five-day, four-night itinerary. The excursion, which includes sea kayaking, hiking, and swimming, may be a pleasant respite from the hustle and bustle of city life.
There’s also the difficult two-night, three-day experience of climbing Mount Fuji. The climb, which is usually open from July to mid-September, allows you to stamp your hiking stick as you pass through several stations. Near the summit of the mountain, a small post office is available, where you can mail a humblebrag postcard to friends and family. This plan will take you to Shiraito Falls and the mountain’s summit.
2. Go to Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park
If you live in the Tokyo area and don’t have the time to travel far, the Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park, a two-hour train ride from Tokyo station, is a good option. To get to Oku-Tama station, use the JR Chuo/Ome lines all the way.
There are numerous possibilities available from there. You could, for example, hike through the Hikawa Gorge and along the Tama River. However, before settling in at the Hikawa Camp Site, try some wasabi (Japanese horseradish) at one of Okutama’s numerous wasabi outlets.
Stop at Hinatawada station and take the 21-kilometer Mount Mimuro-Mount Mitake Trail if you just have a few hours off work and want to go hiking for the day. The level of difficulty is moderate, and there are a few rest stations along the way. As you pass the Gennokonpira Shrine, you can enjoy a distant view of the mountains and perhaps notice some of the park’s animals, such as the Japanese serow.
3. Take a trip to the National Park of Akan-Mashu in the north
Eastern Hokkaido has a long and complicated history that spans thousands of years. With its ancient sites, Akan-Mashu National Park is an excellent spot to start learning about Japan’s northernmost prefecture.
The Akanko Ainu Kotan, located near Lake Akan, is a small community committed to maintaining traditional Ainu culture and traditions. The Ainu Theater Ikor (ikor in Ainu means “treasure”), a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage site, lies nearby and hosts traditional classical Ainu dance performances.
Mountain climbing, hiking, beautiful automobile rides, and canoeing are all available in the park. The Kushiro River Canoe Course, a 90-minute guided tour down the Kushiro canal, is a delightful site. You might see red-crowned cranes, Yezo deer, and rare white-tailed eagles while paddling.
If you’re up for a challenge, there’s the Mount O-akan Mountain Climbing Course. This trip and climb takes about six hours and culminates in a magnificent 1,370-meter vista atop Mount O-akan, from which you’ll be able to take in the park’s immensity—its forests, lakes, and active volcanoes—all at once.
Flying into Kushiro Airport is the quickest way to get to this remote park. Then it’s a lovely 70-minute bus ride to Akanko Bus Center, from whence you may stroll to the Ainu Kotan.
4. Travel south to Keramashoto National Park
Keramashoto National Park is a quick 50-minute high-speed boat journey from Naha for those who want to stay warm. Depending on the season, you might even spot some whales.
Between December and April each year, visitors to Keramashoto National Park can see humpback whales breaching the Pacific’s waters. If you’d rather stay on the island and observe them, the Inazaki Observatory, which is highly recommended, offers a more panoramic view of the whales.
Because Zamami Island is noted for its pristine waters, a three-hour paddle boarding and snorkeling combo tour is highly recommended for water lovers. Visitors of all skill levels can try paddle boarding and then dive below to see sea turtles and a variety of colorful fish.
If you want to take a trip back in time, visit the Takara Residence on Geruma Island. This ancient mansion may be seen combined with an excellent walking tour of Zamami village to give visitors a flavor of what life was like on the isle in the late 19th century.
5. Explore Ise-Shima National Park’s hidden gems
Ise-Shima National Park is mostly in Mie Prefecture and encompasses the 125 jinja (Shinto temples) of Ise Jingu, a sacred spot spread out over a large region. The Sengukan Museum, located near Ise-Outer Jingu’s Shrine, is a great spot to start.
A range of cultural events are also available along the coast. Traveling to beach facilities and sampling local cuisine produced by the ama freedivers is a once-in-a-lifetime chance between May and October. You’ll have the chance to meet and speak with local divers to learn more about their culture and traditions. These legendary divers dive as deep as 18 metres using ancient techniques and little to no equipment to catch sea cucumber, shellfish, and other delights.
Glamping at Ise-Strawberry Shima’s Beach is one of the most sumptuous outdoor experiences, with local barbecued fish served within a fully equipped and roomy tent. A helicopter journey along the Ria Coast affords many photo opportunities for those courageous enough to brave the heights.