From Woody Hills to Fuji-san

The mountainous landscapes of Japan

By Elena Lisina    - 3 min read

Mountains and hills are very common in Japan, and mountainous landscapes are loved as much as seascapes. During my trips I've encountered all kinds of mountains - from moderately sized woody hills, all the way up to the tallest volcano mountain of Japan that needs no introduction: Fuji-san.

Some hills and mountains are located around Tokyo, such as Takao-san and Buko Mountain in Saitama. It’s possible to reach the summit of Takao-san via hiking trails or part-way by a cable car, and there are grand views to be enjoyed from the top. On clear days, Fuji-san can be seen from Takao-san, but even on a cloudy day the view of the layered hills is just wonderful!

Nagano Prefecture is famous for its high mountains often referred to as the ‘Japanese Alps’, but their official name is the Hida Range, a mountain group in the Chūbu region. The Hida Range stretches from north to south along the borders of Toyama, Niigata, Nagano, and Gifu Prefectures, and the highest mountains of the range are covered with snow almost all year round. The highest peak of Hida Range located not far away from Matsumoto is Mt. Yari or Yari-ga-take which is 3,180 meters high and can be climbed. I've enjoyed wonderful views of the Hida Range in places such as Azumino, Matsumoto and Yudanaka. Along with the amazing views, on fine spring days I enjoyed quietness, serenity, silence and clean air – all of those things were really healing.

The Kiso Valley in Nagano Prefecture is home to some famous post towns that are still preserved in their old time style. The valley stretches along the Hida Range and some views on the way are very picturesque.

Another mountain range in Northern Japan is the Ou Range or Rikuouku which stretches for 400 kilometers. The highest peak is Iwate volcano, at 2041 meters high. I haven't had the chance to travel to Iwate yet, but the mountainous views in Sendai and Miyagi Prefecture were great, too. Travelling north from Sendai to Yamadera and Naruko I viewed mountains covered with thick woods. Naruko Gorge is famous for its gorgeous autumn colors that are really worth seeing!

Hills surround Kyoto as well, and many can be viewed from high spots such as Kyoto Tower or Kiyomizudera Temple. The iconic Fushimi Inari Taisha is located on the Inari Mountain, offering grand views on the way to its summit.

Of course, Fuji-san stands apart from all of Japan's mountains, being the highest and the most sacred volcano mountain. Viewing it from afar is exciting, but the climbing experience is even more exhilarating!

Aside from viewing these mountains, there are many options for snow sports such as skiing and snowboarding at numerous resorts all over Japan.

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Elena Lisina

Elena Lisina @shiroi.tenshi

I love Japan very much! I like small towns of Japan where I can watch people doing their business and talk to them carefully. They're always friendly. I like Japanese gardens where I can just sit or walk and take my time. Also I like Shinto Jinja as being there I feel in peace. I like to watch sunsets and then to dine in some small local places. I like to soak into onsen after a long day of wandering. I like Japanese crafts very much as all items are made with great taste and skill. Nihon wo daisuki desuyo!