A Guide to Solo Mountain climbing in Japan | Travel

I moved to Japan at age 39 – a yr after quitting my full-time lawyering job, with no definite job prospects within the country and with no close friends. Unlike most individuals, it was not the temples, the manga culture, or the delicious Japanese food that drew me to this foreign land. I used to be as a substitute fascinated with the often-underrated great thing about Japan’s nature and the countless mountaineering trails that it offered.   

Through the three years that I actually have been living in Japan, each mountaineering experience, often solo, made me feel more connected to the country. I not only found nature’s beautiful landscape welcoming however the friendly mountaineering culture has encouraged me to develop a private reference to Japan’s soil. 12 months after yr, these are the three destinations in Japan that I all the time count on. From mesmerizing scenery to easily-formed trail camaraderie, all features by some means feel unique to Japan.

Daisetsuzan National Park is considered one of the wildest places in Japan

Daisetsuzan National Park in Hokkaido: Japan’s largest national park 

Daisetsuzan, the most important national park in Japan, sits in the course of the northernmost and wildest island of Hokkaido, Japan, occupying a land area of two,268-kilometer square. The park is home to quite a few trails to explore on day hikes or week-long traverses, pleasing each beginners and advanced hikers alike. Mountain scenery encompasses the energetic volcano Mount Asahidake, which can also be the very best mountain in Hokkaido, flower fields roll endlessly along the mountain-base slopes in summer, and wildlife including grizzly bears thrive. It is usually a region that draws a whole bunch of solo hikers through the peak summer season (late July-August) who’re greater than wanting to keep one another company and look out for one another. During my solo summer trip to the park, it was not my bear bell however the friendly company of other hikers that gave me the comfort to explore the paths occupied by alpine flowers without being discouraged by the wildlife to which the park is home.

When one other hiker had warned us a few bear sighting on my solo hike, it took merely a number of seconds to share a moment of reference to two fellow hikers. Luckily, we never encountered a bear on the Asahidake and Nakadake loop route but, had a pleasant day chatting with each other throughout.  On one other solo hike, I tagged together with an elderly couple after that they had noticed that I used to be wandering into bear-dense territory. Little did I do know that (until I overheard their phone call) the couple modified their plans and prolonged their hike only for me in order that I’d not need to hike alone in bear territory. 

Despite the delightful sense of remoteness that it passes on to its visitors, Daisetsuzan is well accessible with a direct bus from Asahikawa Airport. As well as, two cable cars are provided to take trekkers all the way in which as much as the predominant two trailheads — departing from Asahidake Onsen and Sounkyo Onsen. Each of those are tranquil onsen towns, making excellent bases for visitors to the park. 

Kuju Mountain Range in Kyushu: Easy trails, friendly company

 Kyushu, sitting on the alternative end of Japan, is fortunately not home to any bears (last sighting reported in 1987) but is home to many mountains. It’s a magical island where mountaineering trails often demand relatively less effort but still reward those that visit to see the graceful scenery.  

As a reasonably popular destination in Japan, Kyushu is well-served each by an in depth rail network and sight-seeing buses that also stop at most of the predominant trailheads on the island. Despite quite a few visits to Kyushu, it took me a number of years to find the Kuju mountain range sitting within the northern a part of Aso-Kuju National Park. With diverse sceneries, a superb visitor center, dozens of trails, and a mountain-top onsen that may only be reached by mountaineering, Kuju is a hiker’s heaven like no other.

Like Daisetsuzan, Kuju has quite a few trails involving difficult peaks and simple, flat marshland terrain. With a Heidiland-like scenery with bloomed azaleas, Kuju attracts quite a lot of hikers in late May and early June. Hikers also can spend the night within the Hokkein Onsen, only accessible by mountaineering, where freshly cooked food, clean rooms, and an onsen awaits. That is the proper place to mingle with other hikers and exchange trail stories, often in the corporate of a chilly beer.   

During my recent May visit to Kuju in quest of the azaleas, a fellow hiker from Niigata prefecture and I may need shared an unwise amount of beer to have fun our protected arrival at Hokkein Onsen. Earlier within the day, we found one another on the trailhead looking down the steep – and understandably empty – trail in a somewhat perplexed state. We for hours dreadfully negotiated one of the difficult and highly “unrecommended” routes in Kuju mountain range (Naka-Dake to Hokkein Onsen via Shirakuchi route) finally making our option to the recent onsen and cold beer – a feat that will likely not be possible if it was not for the emotional support that we, as two complete strangers, prolonged to one another.  

Jomon Sugi, Japan’s oldest tree, is estimated to be between 2000 and 7000 years old. | Credit: touristinjapan.com

Yakushima: The center-shaped island

 Yakushima Island situated off the coast of Kagoshima in Kyushu is one of the well-known mountaineering regions of Japan. Shiratani Unsuikyo, one of the popular mountaineering routes on the island, is believed to have inspired Hayao Mizaki’s Princess Mononoke, released in 1997. This put the island on the radar of not only hikers but in addition Miyazaki fans all around the world.

Yakushima Island, considered one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, has been in a position to preserve its forests for hundreds of years, holding Jomon Sugi, Japan’s oldest tree. Since the island is home to countless trails, explorers won’t ever get bored having fun with a more off-the-beaten-track experience once they wander off the predominant tracks. 

One other alternative to popular routes – which ended up being considered one of my most rewarding experiences in Yakushima  –  is to explore the island with a road walk that circles your entire circumference of this perfectly heart-shaped island.  

I did the walk a number of years ago in three days. Trading the forests with a road walk gave me the chance to higher appreciate the local life on the island and explore often ignored communities reminiscent of Kurio or Nagata, where the seaside scenery can easily compete with the majestic great thing about the island’s forests.

While I did the walk alone, I used to be pleasantly surprised to be greeted by two other visitors to the island waving and cheering me at the tip of my walk. I discovered that they – within the comfort of the bus – saw me multiple times during my three-day walk and thought that I deserved a celebratory beer.

These are only three of the various regions of Japan where astonishing sceneries and friendly hikers are able to welcome latest explorers. I’d recommend to anyone exploring Japan for its culture to branch out and provides the luxurious landscape a likelihood. You can be surprised by how much you’ll be able to find out about this country by exploring its mountains.

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