*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Hiking Japan

Is very much worth doing, but like anything else in Japan, better done by minimizing the Japanese:
- access the mountains on weekdays, unless you like standing in buses on twisted mountain roads, and waiting in line up the side of a mountain
- ask yourself what's going to cost you less, the cost to your body of your camp on your back, or 9000y/night for a sleepless night in a hut
- hut dinners are too early and local cunts wake you at four
- Japanese snore, and loudly
- 'wild camping' is not allowed (and rarely easy to do, as anywhere flat and with water is taken by a paid site)
- Rainy-season is a wash everywhere (a month of June/July)
- Forget the 3000m Chubu mountains, Tohoku or Hokkaido from November through May
- Much under 2000m one can hike year round
- make sure a tent is built for rain and humidity, and for wind if above treeline
- each 1000m of elevation is a month colder, more or less, so dress for it
- Fuji sucked
- it will suck harder now that it got UNESCO
- if you must go to Fuji, do it as a day hike a few weeks out of official season (official season is July and August) as I did
- its huts are the biggest suck
Information and links
- make sure you know the train and bus schedules for your trip before going, leaving and returning, as many of the train and bus schedules get sparse in the mountains
- you need maps, but none are in English, so get 'yama-to-kogen' maps at any large bookstore or outdoor shop (山と高原地図)
- 'Hiking in Japan'
- Lonely Planet's 'Hiking in Japan' book
- Japan's '100 Famous Mountains'\

- Koujitsu-Sanso in Shinjuku or in Ginza
- Kamoshika Sports in Takadanobaba


This is what Japanese mountains can look like, several days' hike in, mid-week.


  1. For me, getting out to nature is about getting away from people. I don't like going unless it's to a place where I know there's a risk of an absolute novice getting seriously injured or dead...

    1. I am afraid that the Japanese noob goes to those too, on weekends. It is the price of the good transit access to mountains here, and the easy trail access to mountaineering, and the fact there are too many people on these damned islands. Still, if you go up Tsurugi, the 'daikiretto' or such on a weekday: not so bad.

  2. Damn, the Japanese sure love to leave litter everywhere when they go to the countryside. Last time I went to Yoshino Yama for O-hanami, the mountainside looked like a landfill. 'We Japanese are in harmony with nature' used to elicit a 'Fuck off' from me, now it elicits a 'Fukushima'.

    1. The one time I mentioned the fact of littering Mt. Fuji, my Japanese acquaintances all said "that's from the Chinese tourists".

    2. Of course! But when I was living in China I never could find any 'litter-dropping crime-spree tours holiday in Japan' advertised anywhere!

    3. China was atrocious for litter when I was there in '93, and wealth cannot have made it any better. To be fair to the Chinese, anyone else at that population density would litter as much. The Japanese will of course blame the Chinese, and Koreans, for any spoilage, despite the facts that: it's probably untrue, they blame them because Japanese psychology is allergic to reflection, and they should smarten up because they need tourism dollars and nobody's flying from Europe or North America, now that Japan's less fun than the Bubble, and covered in even more concrete.

  3. :< Ugh so many humans! I like to hike and when I was really young I would hike to prance around in the nude knowing full well I would be the only one there. This kind of hiking -_- I dunno.... so many people.
    Though your last two pics look amazing, prance worthy though probably a bit on the chilly side.

    1. Cannot imagine where you could be comfortable nude outdoors in Japan, unless you are an exhibitionist. The best thing about canoeing north of Toronto, or anywhere out of town in Canada, is swimming naked. Nothing so liberating. Must be a treat in a climate where the water gets anything above 15C.

    2. Folks out in the rural areas don't seem to mind. Not like grandmotherly waist-level cleavage is anything to write home about.

      As for the prevailing attitude
      people have here about trash...it's a lot like their approach toward dentistry, there really is a lack of awareness. Maybe people are just so used
      to it that it doesn't bother them.

      If I'm not mistaken, the locals have a long tradition of leaving their trash along the trails on Mt. Fuji sacred slopes.

      "But there is a track--a yellow track made by thousands of cast-off sandals made of straw (waraiji), flung aside by pilgrims. Straw sandals quickly wear out upon this black grit; and every pilgrim carries several pairs for the journey. Had I to make the ascent alone, I could find the path by following the wake of broken sandals--a yellow streak zigzagging up and out of sight into the blackness." -L. Hearn, Fuji-No-Yama, 1898