Unforgettable Travel Company

The 10 Most Beautiful National Parks in Japan

 

Japan’s natural beauty is highly underrated. Many visitors to the Land of the Rising Sun imagine Japan to be all neon-drenched cities and cultural touring, but this is far from the case.

We believe getting out in the great outdoors to be a key part of any tour of Japan. The countryside – mountains, forests, streams, rugged coastline – is rich from tip-to-toe, with numerous protected reserves to explore. 

We’ve compiled a list of our favorite national parks throughout Japan. Some – such as those in northern, southern, and far off-shore Japan – are more of a specialist nature, but others can be easily folded into a typical highlights tour. 

Fuji Izu Hakone National Park

Chubu

Fuji Hakone Izu National Park

Where else to start but at Japan’s most famous and popular national park, home to the country’s icon – Mount Fuji. Hakone is located just a couple of hours outside of Tokyo, en route to Kyoto, so makes an ideal addition to most tours. 

Enjoy hikes and village visits throughout the national park, and kick back in excellent ryokan accommodation. The park also contains five volcanic lakes, including Lake Kawaguchiko, right in the shadows of Mount Fuji.

Nikko National Park

Kanto

Nikko National Park

Nikko is a popular and very rewarding day trip from Tokyo. The national park is coated in dense forests and cascading waterfalls – a hikers paradise – and is also noted for its cultural sites. 

Within the park are the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Toshogu Shrine, Futarasan Shrine, and Rinno-ji. Toshogu is one of the finest shrines in Japan, so well worth a visit on its own.

Nachi Temple Kumano Yoshino

Kansai

Yoshino Kumano National Park

This gorgeous national park encompasses the forests, mountain ranges, and spectacular coastline of the Wakayama peninsula, south of Osaka. 

It’s home to Mount Yoshino – Japan’s most famous cherry blossom viewing spot – and the incredible hiking trails of the Kumano Kodo, Japan’s most famous ancient pilgrimage route.

Nearby is the legendary Mount Koya, thought to be the spiritual home of Japanese Buddhism.

Towada Hachimantai National Park

Tohoku

Towada Hachimantai National Park

Found in the far north of Honshu island, Towada Hachimantai sprawls over Aomori, Iwate, and Akita prefectures. 

It’s an incredibly scenic, remote corner of Japan, comprised of soaring mountain ranges and placid watercourses such as tranquil Lake Towada. Fantastic backcountry hiking routes and majestic onsen make this a true hidden gem of Japan.

Daisetsuzan National Park Hokkaido

Hokkaido

Daisetsuzan National Park

Pushing even further north, Japan’s northernmost island Hokkaido is an adventurer’s paradise, known for its incredibly scenic, little-explored interior. 

Daisetzusan – translated as ‘great snowy mountains’ – is the largest best known of Hokkaido’s park, with serene Alpine hiking trails, dramatic gorges, and effervescent crater lakes.

Brown bear in Shiretoko National Park

Hokkaido

Shiretoko National Park

Continuing out to the extreme north of Hokkaido, the thin peninsula Shiretoko looks out towards Russia and is the wildest corner of Japan.

The park is one of the best in Japan for truly wild wildlife, home to brown bears, deer, and foxes. Its immense biodiversity and truly unique ecosystem saw it made a World Heritage Site in 2005.

Mount Aso Kyushu

Kyushu

Aso-Kuju National Park

Turning now to the southern end of Japan, Aso Kuju is found in the heart of sub-tropical Kyushu. It includes Mount Aso – the largest active volcano in Japan – and the magical Kuju mountains. 

With little public transport around the best – and most fun – way to explore the area is by hire car. We recommend staying in nearby Kurokawa Onsen, with its excellent hot springs and fine ryokan accommodation.

Enchanted Forest Yakushima

Kyushu

Yakushima National Park

At the very southern tip of Kyushu is the magical, mysterious island of Yakushima. The entire island forms the Yakushima National Park, along with offshore Osumi islets. 

The island is best known for its dense forests. The moss-laden cedars are the oldest in Japan – some are over 1,000 years old – and inspired the enchanted woodlands of Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece Princess Mononoke

Kerama Islands Okinawa

Okinawa

Kerama Shoto National Park

Situated over 400 miles from mainland Japan, and nearly 1,000 from Tokyo, the Okinawa islands are a completely different world. 

Kerama Shoto National Park, like the rest of Okinawa, is known for its tropical white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and coral reefs. Local Okinawan culture is also fascinating. 

Special mention also goes to nearby Iriomote Ishigaki National Park, an even remoter corner of Okinawa, and the last refuge of the Iriomote Wild Cat.

Ogasawara National Park

Ogasawara Islands

Ogasawara National Park

We end in Ogasawara, the furthest extremity of Japan, situated over 1,000 miles off the mainland out in the Pacific Ocean. 

The Ogasawara archipelago comprises over 30 tropical islands. It’s also referred to as the Bonin Islands, a mistranslation of the Japanese word for ‘uninhabited’, which gives you a clue to the remoteness of this location!

These islands are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, protected for their unique and largely untouched ecosystem, commonly referred to as the ‘Galapagos of the Orient’.

Ready to start planning your next trip?

Get in touch with our Japan specialist, Luke, to start planning your luxury Japan adventure today.

+1 844 879 7388OR

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