View Full Version : Backpacking/Hiking in Japan
Anyone out there backpack or enjoy hiking in Japan? If so, what are some good areas of Japan to backpack/camp? I am thinking about bringing my equipment over when I move to Japan later this year....I just don't know if its worth it at the time.
2003-01-12, 11:42 AM
Lots of places - though Japan can be both very organised and restricted at the same time. We have been everywhere from Soyamisaki (the Northernmost point in Japan (around -30C with wind factor in Winter) to Chiran in Kyushu, where the Kamikaze pilots were based. Locals very friendly and helpful, had more than a few hot teas and sake in winter, and beers in summer.
Around Tokyo - Takao, Chichibu, Hakone, Izu, Okazaki
Tohoku - Omoshiroyama-Yamadera Trail, Zao, Kaminoyama Onsen, Sakata, Nikko, Bandai, Aizu-Wakamatsu,
Hokuriku - Wakura, Matsumoto
Shikoku - Nakamura to Tosa Shimuzu coast road,
Hokkaido - Wakkanai, Engaru, Monbetsu, Otaru
Hiroshima>Iwakuni, Yamaguchi/ Ube>Hagi,
ICI Ishi sports in Tokyo has a good range of international equipment, service and repairs, MSR, Karrimor, Coleman, NorthFace, while Field and Trek UK offers delivery to Japan. Hardware is OK, but Japanese clothing, while it looks stylish, is poorly made and will not last serious use.
A lot of Japanese "camping" is based on travelling by car/ van/ RV/SUV, and setting out elaborate stoves and kitchens, eating, then returning to a minshuku to sleep. It seems travelling with large rucksacks, food, stoves, tent, water filters, sleeping bags is rarer, and only for a hardcore few, though it is a great way to meet people. Slept in some JR waiting rooms, and met a 'ghost' once!
Enjoy the countryside!
2003-01-13, 03:59 AM
Thank you (again) for the information! I have also found a few books on the subject....and look forward to "getting lost" in Japan.
My main concern is the ability to find and access trailheads etc., as I won't have a car. Did you start and end your longer multi-day trips by car? And...if you have time....how was your encounter with the ghost?
2003-01-13, 12:10 PM
Axl - Did not have a car, used JR, local trains and buses, and a good pair of 15 year old worn in boots for the rest of the way! Trails are generally accessible and well marked, (not quite off the beaten tracks here) often targeted at retired folks, and you have choices of difficulty. Some paths are quite poor, so a stick is useful, and good ankle support in your boots.
Travelling with a large pack (80-100L +side pckts), we had to be careful on crowded buses and trains, so choose appropriate times for departures. Fuel is widely available, though we use an MSR Whisperlite that burns just about anything, and have enough fuel for a 4-5 days with us. Water can be harder, and have come across a few places refusing to supply us with any until we bought something from a shop or food outlet. You'll quickly learn that the Japanese national food is "curry rice", available everywhere.
Nothing nasty about, occasionally have run into bike gangs and hot rodders on the road at night, though have met a "yamakagishi" snake which can elicit a rather painful bite. If you go out in the cold/ snow, take high salopettes, and a good "thermarest" type mat. The new LCD torches are great for cooking, and last 150+ hours on a couple of AA batteries, while on the road, use a strobe marker, as hot rod gangs are often out at night.
The "ghost" was in an unmanned station railway waiting room, on the Senzan line, possible from a nearby tunnel accident where men had been killed. We had locked the door, (always take a good chain and padlock too) and both woke up feeling an icy presence, and looked up to see an opaque shape moving across the room, no fear, just a feeling of curiosity. Windows were barred, door locked, no nearby lights to throw shadows, so could not explain the entity other than a ghost!
Enjoy the travel!
Have you had a chance to stay in any of the "mountain huts" along the trails? A route I was interested in, Kite-dake TO Hijiri-dake, in the southern alps, has these huts along the route. Also....in general, to you come across many foriegners along the trails you have hiked?
2003-01-15, 01:09 PM
Met very few people, foreigners or Japanese, as we traveled outside of regular holiday periods.
Did not stay in huts; we used either Goretex "bivvy bags" or a small 2 person tent, which we pitched in any sheltered place, including snow holes, trees near car parks, and once in a white-out in Hokkaido between 2 toilets! We prefer to be totally independent, carrying stoves, food, water, tent, rope and shelter, in case we cannot find one. Hubby was in cubs and scouts for years and knows lots about camping, navigating and hiking. I did orienteering, and we can both read maps well.