03 Oct 2018 in In immersion
Experience Japan’s diverse landscapes through its national parks!
The best way to experience the Japanese wilderness? Head to its national parks, where huge swathes of land are all but untouched by man. You could spend months touring the different parks, but if you only have a week, we recommend a tour of 3 of the most easily accessible!
Days 1-2: Nikko National Park
Nikko National Park is just 2 hours by train from Tokyo. Set inside the park, Hoshino Resorts KAI Nikko is a great base for exploring the surrounding mountains.
It also boasts magnificent views of Lake Chuzenji overlooked by the volcano Mt. Nantai.
Situated at an altitude of over 4000ft, the lake is a great spot to start exploring the park. Take a boat trip to admire the mountains and seasonal colours up close. Or get away from the crowds by walking the forest tracks around the lake.
You can even hike the entire 15-mile perimeter via a hilly circular trail.
Other highlights near Nikko city include the lavish Toshogu Shrine and the Kegon Falls, one of Japan’s most celebrated waterfalls.
Further afield, the Senjogahara marshlands offer some of the best walking in the park, with short and long trails rewarding you with views of alpine flowers and colourful waterfowl.
Days 3-5: Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park
Also easily accessible from Tokyo, this immense park covers 4 distinct areas, taking in everything from marine life to pampas mountain plains.
The Mt. Fuji area, home to Japan’s iconic highest peak, is a mesmerizing place, worth exploring for its 5 large lakes and forested hills with Fuji-san as a constant backdrop.
There’s hiking, of course, including the ascension of Fuji itself. But why not explore the park on horseback or canoe on the lake early morning?
The Hakone area of the park is known for its spectacular volcanic landscapes.
Hike to the top of Mt. Kintoki on the outer rim of the Hakone crater and you’ll be rewarded by breathtaking views of Mt. Fuji. The recently-opened Hoshino Resorts KAI Sengokuhara, named after the nearby pampas grass fields, is a great place to stay and test the famed hot springs of the Owakudani valley.
The park’s other two sectors, the Izu Peninsula and Izu Islands, take in the rugged coastline that juts out into the Pacific Ocean. Hike along the Jogasaki coast, walk the 7-falls trail by the Kawazu River or test the sandy beaches, beloved by surfers and swimmers alike.
Out on the islands, you’ll find excellent scuba diving – and a chance to swim with dolphins. Your base? Hoshino Resorts KAI Anjin in the pleasant fishing town of Ito.
Days 6-7: Aso-Kuju National Park
Set in Kyushu, Japan’s southern island, this dramatic volcanic park is best accessed from Tokyo via a short domestic flight.
At Hoshino Resorts KAI Aso, you’ll be in the heart of the park. Your spacious private villa comes complete with your own outdoor hot springs bath.
And at meal times, you’ll have views of the five peaks of Mt. Aso. They may well be belching a steady stream of smoke into the air.
Here, the scale of nature’s might is humbling – and it’s also the great attraction of this park. The centrepiece is Mt. Aso, entrenched in a caldera of staggering proportions. Intrepid walkers will adore the volcano’s multiple hiking trails – but check ahead as paths sometimes close following volcanic activity.
Even if you’re not a walker, head to the Daikanbo observation point for a jaw-dropping view of Aso’s 15-mile wide caldera.
The other part of the park is the Kuju mountains, offering both easy walks and day-long hikes within a few miles of your hotel.
Expect rugged volcanic landscapes and sublime views that will stay with you long after your stay.
Fancy exploring other national parks? How about the sea cliffs, sea caves and surprising sand dunes of the San’inkaigan park? Or the underwater habitats and always-warm beaches of Okinawa’s Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park?
With some 34 national parks in Japan, you’ll need more than one trip to cover them all!