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Recommend backpacking trips in Japan
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(beenay25) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
Recommend backpacking trips in Japan on 03/26/2010 06:04:17 MDT Print View

I seem to remember that there are some people on this forum whose home base is Japan so hopefully they and anybody who has done backpacking in Japan will see this and chime in. I'd greatly appreciate any input at all. I will have about a week to travel in Japan this July and would love to do some backpacking or (moderate) mountaineering while I'm there. I've never been to Japan before and for the month prior to that time I'll be going to a language school for study abroad.

Mt. Fuji seems like an obvious destination, but I'd rather avoid it and any other places that draw the most massive crowds. Right now I'm looking at the Japan Alps as a primary destination, but am open to any recommendations that I can get. I do not want to do a technical mountain climb (anything involving ropes, harnesses or helmets), but am fine with steep walk-ups. Daytrips, overnight out-and-back trips or 15-30 mile loops are OK, but the longer the better.

What I know:
-There are lots of mountains and a few national parks around Nagano
-Mt. Fuji is extremely crowded in July
-Lots of trailheads can be reached by public transportation and moderate walking
-Enough Japanese to find my way around a website if I know what I'm looking for
-Not much else

What I want to know:
-Specific trails, destinations, mountains or trips, anywhere in Japan (more specifically, places I can access without having to rent a car)
-Recomended cities or towns to use as a hub -for food and gear supplies and hostel (or any cheap accomodations) on the first and last nights
-Keywords to use on the Japanese internet to find things like trip reports, trail information, trail maps and camping regulations
-Any websites with specific information
-Do you recommend a tent or could I get by with a tarp? For instance, if I'd have to stay in campgrounds some nights, I wouldn't want to tarp it because there's no privacy and a campground might not have suitable ground for all the stakes (i.e. wood or gravel platforms like in some U.S. "designated camping areas")
-Recommended guide books?
-Anything not mentioned?

Any other information on:
-Camping/climbing regulations (what do I have to do to clear any red tape/obtain permits to camp or climb these areas)
-Places to find trail maps, for sale or viewable for free online, in Japan, etc.
-Fishing license cost for non-citizens?
-Any info on flyfishing regs in Japan... is it worth it to bring the fly rod?


Edited by beenay25 on 03/26/2010 06:44:35 MDT.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Recommend backpacking trips in Japan on 03/26/2010 10:09:28 MDT Print View

Hi Bob,

I'm one of the people here who've been in Japan a long time and know it well for the mountains and such. I've written quite a lot about the topic here in the forums, so you might want to check out at least two threads that might help:

You might want to check out these blogs, too:

Just some extra information. Compared to the States it is crowded everywhere in Japan, even in the remotest areas. In July you will be a little ahead of the biggest crowds, but count on LOTS of standing and waiting for BIG groups to pass and having to say "Konnichiwa" to every hiker who passes by. HIke another 20 minutes and go through the same thing again. The South Alps tend to be less crowded than the North Alps. The mountains in Tohoku have fewer people still, but often there is no camping allowed.

Permits are not necessary in Japan. Nor are there any fees. However, campsites at the mountain huts, especially in the North Alps can be very expensive. It is recommended that you sign in at the trail head (basically leaving your name and address on formal sheets just in case they need to go find you.

A small tent with a small footprint is recommended over such huge shelters as the TT Squall or tarps with long guy lines. Since the mountains are so steep (volcanic terrain) space is at a premium. Having a smaller footprint means you'll much more easily find a place to set down for the night. And popular places like Karasawa are so filled with boulder fields that trying to find stake out points for a tarp can be frustrating.

And I warn you, it RAINS here! HARD! So hard that every year entire mountainsides get washed away. At the same time, at lower altitudes it is extremely humid. So make sure you have well-ventilated rain gear. Below 2,000 meters in summer it is usually so hot and humid that I don't bother with wearing my rain gear... preferring to let the coolness of the rain keep the heat down and letting my body heat dry me off quickly under shelter.

If you can find someone who is willing to take you (I don't have the experience to lead anyone in this), I suggest giving "sawanobori" (creek climbing) a try: a sport that originated in Japan. You'll get a completely different perspective on UL techniques.

I know that there are fishing permits in Japan, but I know nothing about them. Arapiles or Brett or Aoyagi-san... have you fished in Japan? Would you know what to do? I doubt very much that license costs are different for non-citizens. Fishing is a passion here... you'll find more fishing shops than you'll ever get a chance to visit while you are here. From what I've heard the best fishing is in remote, very steep mountain creeks, and because of over-fishing the fish are small. Still, "Ayu" is considered the expert fisherman's challenge in skill.

Hope that is of some help at least.

(beenay25) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
Re: Re: Recommend backpacking trips in Japan on 03/26/2010 21:10:46 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the links and advice. I don't know how I missed those threads on BPL, and those blogs have awesome pictures. I feel like knowing about little things like sawanobori help a lot too, as I can punch 沢登 into Google and find out more about it directly. Something is telling me not to bother with flyfishing, but maybe if I could find a stream that's not jammed with creek climbers...

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Recommend backpacking trips in Japan on 03/26/2010 21:48:45 MDT Print View

Creek climbers are a rare breed. You won't find many of them around because creek climbing is strenuous and cold (swimming in ice cold mountain streams). But you will find lots of fishermen. If you're going to go fishing here I'd recommend that you talk to someone who really knows the best places to go fishing.

Arapiles .
(Arapiles) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Re: Re: Recommend backpacking trips in Japan on 03/29/2010 05:39:02 MDT Print View

Funny, I missed this when it was posted.

I'd suggest a walk somewhere where you can see Fuji, perhaps Kitadake, which you can get to by public transport - that said, the view from Fuji at sunrise can be spectacular.

Re fishing, I don't know anyone who does in Japan but a quick google brought up a couple of relevant sites:

this one explains the permits thing:

This site is foreign fisherpeople:

Miguel - the One Hundred Mountains blog is impressive, I can't wait for the translation of Hyakumeizan (but I never intended to do Fukuda's list anyway).