Think of Japan and you’ll picture the buzzing city of Tokyo, ancient temples, and a fun-loving culture built around anime. You might even think of their infamous, high tech, music-playing toilets.

As far as the more natural attractions go, you may recall the annual cherry blossom festival that takes place throughout the nation in the spring. But would you think to visit the mountains in Japan? Tied into a city-hopping trip, step into nature, even just for a few days, and you’ll be glad you did. Here are four reasons why.

mountains in Japan

The journey

Your first leg of the journey will likely be by bullet train from Tokyo, otherwise known as the Shinkansen – a high speed, high tech, high comfort environment. But as you near the mountains in Japan, it’s not just the train that you’ll change.

After sweeping through the country at speeds of up to 200mph, you’ll get onto an older model instead, with rows of seats along each window and room to stand in the middle if it’s busy. The railway won’t be so smooth or anywhere near as fast either. Instead, you’ll be zig-zagging up ever steeper hillsides, climbing up into the clouds ever so slowly.

Don’t be deterred by the slower progress though. You’ll have all the more opportunity to take in the incredible landscapes from the windows. Expect to see some areas covered in dense vegetation, some more open, and some pretty, traditional mountain villages en route.

mountains in Japan

The scenery

If you head to the mountains in Japan, you’ll almost definitely be above cloud level at least once. For the luckiest travellers, you’ll step straight off the train into the wispy clouds. When they’re thin enough not to obscure your view, they’ll create an almost other-wordly feel. Paired with your sublime mountainous location, it’s pure magic.

While many visit Japan in the spring for the cherry blossom, don’t dismiss the chance to visit in autumn too, when the views from the mountains are an exquisite spectrum of russet, copper and golden leaves.

Be warned, though, with the higher altitudes often comes cooler temperatures, so while you might have been okay in Tokyo in a T shirt and jeans, keep a few layers handy to pull on if you need them when you visit the mountains in Japan.

mountains in Japan

The onsen

Being a volcanic island, Japan has multiple regions that are home to hot springs, known as onsen. Visit the onsen in Hakone, situated in the mountains in Japan, for the chance to experience this for yourself – it’s the ultimate in relaxation. These naturally heated pools are the traditional Japanese take on the spa. Look out for hotels that have been built around these pools to indulge without even needing to leave the building.

mountains in Japan

The attractions

A trip on the cable cars is a must with the Hakone Ropeway when the weather is relatively clear. As you gently rumble along in your transparent pod, you’ll pass over smoking vents in the still active volcano. You’ll also have a bird’s eye view of the rocky, volcanic landscape and, if it’s clear, you’ll even catch sight of Mount Fuji itself.

At the end of the ropeway, you’ll reach Lake Ashi, another stunningly scenic spot to explore. There are several tourist boat trips across the lake. Many include stops for you to disembark, explore and find the iconic Hakone shrine.

Plan your visit for spring or autumn to make the most of the seasonal changes as well as the year-round attractions. If you’re serious about seeing as much of Japan as you can, then combine a few days in the mountains with city hopping, temple spotting and even a trip to the beach – Japan is an island after all!

Inspired to visit Japan? Find out why Kyoto in Japan made it onto my bucket list for romantic getaways. You might just be surprised!

4 reasons to visit mountains in Japan

34 COMMENTS

  1. Great article – You really capture my imagination in what the mountains of Japan would be like. I cant wait to eventually get to Japan, I know it will just be one of those countries I fall in love with 😀

  2. We visited Japan during sakura season and caught the beginning but it was still far too cold this spring for them to bloom! However the delayed winter meant we got some great snow in the Japanese alps. I’ve seen some photos of autumn foliage in the Japanese mountains and would love to visit during the fall.

  3. these are all beautiful photos, way gorgeous. and japan has been on my list for ever, I so wanna be able to visit before i turn 30. hopeful it does come true.

  4. If there are mountains in countries I visit, I am always there. I love mountains. I havent been to Japan yet but these mountains look totally awesome and I hope one day I will check them out 🙂

  5. Oh my goodness how beautiful!! I was in Tokyo a few years ago for a short spur-of-the-moment trip so didn’t have a time to do the research and make sure we tackle everything – certainly wish we would have made it to the mountains…just a good excuse to make a return trip!

  6. You’re completely right, I don’t immediately think to visit the mountains when I think of Japan even though if I think about it, I know they have mountains! I love a good view, so I really would enjoy visiting mountains and all the surround scenery, great post!

  7. I love Japan. I was lucky enough to visit Osaka and Kyoto though didn’t get a chance to visit the mountains. I guess now I have a legit reason to schedule a trip back! 🙂

  8. Wow! Absolutely beautiful! Japan is on my bucket list to visit. I love looking at friend’s pictures of their trips to Japan. One day I’ll see these mountains in person!

  9. The Japanese mountains look stunning! I would love to visit someday and check out the hot springs and beautiful scenery. I don’t think I would want to leave though.

  10. I am…well mountain obsessed to put it lightly. Backcountry snowboarding the fresh powder in the mountain of Japan has been on my bucket list since I can remember. This post has me drooling!

  11. Beautiful pictures! Japan is always one of my favorite destinations and one that I wouldn’t mind going again and again. I also loveeeee onsen! Need one right now

  12. Wow! Your pictures are stunning! Well, the views, as well. I am totally convinced about Japan now.

  13. I think you are right with how everyone pictures Japan. Tokyo and temples. I am very thankful you shared the adventures and nature you can explore while in Japan. The way you described the trip is magical. We always try and plan some sort of hike while on a vacation.

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