Long distance paths in Japan almost invariably have long and rich histories. Many of them originated as an ancient pilgrimage route used by the pious to visit a region’s most sacred temple. Other trails have their origins in the routes of travelling merchants, samurai or even feudal lords.
This history, coupled with a stunning landscape and an intriguing vibrant culture, means that walking in Japan offers an intoxicating mix of heritage, beauty and fascination. In contrast to the frenetic pace of its major cities, Japan’s long distance paths enable travellers to explore the country’s more remote, peaceful and slow-paced areas.
More than seventy percent of Japan is covered by mountains - volcanic peaks and snowcapped summits. Whilst mountains have traditionally held religious and cultural significance, they have also become a haven for outdoor sports including walking. Japan is home to some of the world’s best walks which showcase the spectacular natural beauty of Japan’s countryside. There is a wide variety of scenery ranging from the subarctic region in the north to the subtropical region in the south.
The Kumano Kudo is one of only two pilgrimage trails officially recognised by UNESCO.
The entrancing landscape features coastline, forests, valleys, mountains, waterfalls and agricultural fields. Springtime features a myriad of shades of green foliage whilst Autumn offers show stopping forest colours. Paths are dotted with sacred shrines, pagodas, temples and traditional villages. Walkers also get the opportunity to stay in local wayside inns as well as sampling regional cuisine and hot spring onsen baths.
Some of the best walking regions in Japan are listed below. Click on the ‘Learn More’ button for more information on a region.
Click on the region name below for information on walking in that area