This island nation of Japan is located in East Asia and offers an amazing mixture of the ultra modern and historically ancient. With huge, bright cities and large areas of beautiful countryside and wilderness, it is a country of contrast and beauty.
Be blown away by the fantastic inner city architecture, then visit magnificent ancient temples. Visit Mount Fuji to enjoy some breathtaking views. You can enjoy climbing, walking, skiing, rafting, but try to leave some time for the more tranquil side of Japan.
Japan for the climbers
Mount Fuji stands majestically at 3,776 metres and is an enjoyable climb. Visible from Tokyo on a clear day, it is Japan’s highest mountain. If you want to climb Mount Fuji as part of an adventure holiday, you will need to visit between July and August. Climbing outside this season is extremely dangerous and definitely not recommended. Bear in mind that Tokyo may be 40°C, but it can still be well below freezing at the summit of the mountain.
Another one for the climbers is Mount Aso. This active volcano boasts the largest volcano in the world and attracts many visitors including serious hikers. You should be aware; however, that Mount Aso is active and on occasion does emit some rather unpleasant sulphurous gas. When this occurs in significant amounts, the cable cars are stopped and all climbing is suspended. However, this caldera lake is an amazing sight and well worth a visit.
Dewa Sanzan means ‘Three Mountains of Dewa’ and is another destination popular with climbers and hikers. This place is truly special. Mounts Haguro, Gassan and Yudono have particular significance to the Japanese Shinto religion and it is popular with pilgrims. Haguro is the lowest summit, making it accessible throughout the year. The climb is via 2,466 stone steps through a forest of ancient Sugi trees, some of which are over 600 years old. This is a truly spectacular and atmospheric place and well worth the trip.
White Water Rafting
No adventure holiday would be complete without the thrill of some white water rafting. For the best experience Japan has to offer in this area, take a trip to the remote and beautiful Lya Valley. These are grade 4 rapids and these are not for the faint-hearted! Take an organised tour and be shown the ropes by the experts before taking to the water. The Valley has a lot to offer including hiking and cycling.
Taking it easy
When it comes to adventure travel, Japan has it all, including opportunities to relax in an exciting way. Japan has a number of fantastic hot springs, the most spectacular and famous of all being The Hells of Beppu. The coastal city of Beppu has much to offer, but the largest attractions by far are the Hot Springs Resorts, known in Japan as Onsen Resorts. As well the traditional bathing facilities, Beppu offers hot sand baths, hot mud baths and revitalising steam baths.
Japan is a country of contrast and complexity. A place where the ancient is juxtaposed with the modern. It is a country of culture and beauty as well as adventure and excitement and should be on everyone’s ‘must do’ list.
Maggi Simpkins writes regularly on adventure travel for a range of travel websites and blogs. She is married with two children and lives in The Lake District.