Hiking or mountain climbing is one of the popular hobbies in Japan. There is even an anime about it – Yama no Susume – that shows the joy and fulfilment of conquering a summit.
Japan’s Setouchi region is blessed with mountain scapes where visitors can choose from a number of trails from slow, easy ambles around the islands to more adventurous and advanced treks with several different mountains to climb.
Here is a roundup of a few of the more challenging hikes for visitors to explore:
Ehime – Mt. Ishizuchi and Mt. Kamegamoi
Found in the Saijo area of Ehime Prefecture stands Mt. Ishizuchi and Mt Kamegamoi. Mt. Ishizuchi is one of Japan’s seven sacred peaks, it is named the ‘Stone Hammer’ as a result of its sharp and rocky summit.
It is the tallest mountain in western Japan with a peak of 1,982 meters, not only known for its beauty but also for the challenge it presents climbers. Once hikers have tackled this tough hike up, they can relax and enjoy the views with peace and tranquillity at its peak.
Nearby peak, Mt. Kamegamori, is one of the ‘Three Peaks of Iyo’, it is a short and relatively easy climb that still provides amazing views of the surrounding mountain range.
Hyogo – Mt. Maya and Mt. Rokkosan
Mt. Maya and Mt. Rokkosan are both found in the Kobe area of the Hyogo Prefecture, hiking up either one of these mountains will offer visitors stunning views of both Kobe and Osaka. Mt. Maya is one of the main peaks in the Rokko mountain range to the north of Kobe city and is often referred to as a ‘ten-million-dollar night view’.
Mt. Rokko is another hiking gem of the Kobe area located close to the hot springs of Arima Onsen, as well as the cities of Osaka and Kobe. Once hikers reach the top, they can expect a panoramic view of Osaka Bay or a wonderful view over the city of Kobe.
Kagawa – Mt. Ilnoyama
Mt. Ilnoyama, also known as ‘Sanuki Fuji’, is located in the Marugame area of north Kagawa. Ilnoyama is a 422-meter-high mountain that is designated as the Seto Inland Sea National Park. The area is dotted with Japanese tea rooms where hikers can relax in after their day out and learn more about authentic Japanese culture.
Whilst hiking, visitors will set sights on a number of local treasure troves including; wild birds and Japanese megaliths, these are large stone structures that have been constructed into a monument. During the months of April and August when the sun rises, the summit of Sanuki Fuji reflects on the surface of the water creating a gorgeous diamond image in the water.
Tokushima – Mt. Tsurugi
Mt. Tsurugi is 1,955 meters in height making it the second-highest mountain in western Japan after Mt. Ishizuchi. It is surrounded by a 1,800-meter-high class mountain range making it a gorgeous setting to hike around. This is the perfect place for those who want the chance to experience stunning panoramic views of the Seto Inland Sea at height without having to walk for too long.
There is a chairlift that takes hikers from the trailhead to the middle of the trail. Enjoy walking around this area throughout the seasons and get a glimpse of spectacular Japanese nature and wildlife throughout the year. This area boasts colonies of alpine plants and rare virgin forest, this is a forest that hosts a mature, densely populated ecosystem uninfluenced by human activity.
Yamaguchi – Suo Oshima
Suo Oshima is the third largest island in the Seto Inland Sea, it is located at the eastern end of Yamaguchi Prefecture and is famous for being the hometown of immigrants from Hawaii, the USA and Kauai Island from the Meiji Restoration period. The Seto Inland Alps are nicknamed as the ‘600m ridgeline’, included in this line of mountains is Mt. Monju, Mt. Kano, Mt. Genmeizan and Mt. Dake.
Visitors tend to start the Suo Oshima Trekking after a scenic drive to the Monju Temple, this is located just halfway up the mountain, it is roughly a three-hour round-trip by car from lodgings. The ridgeline is easily walkable with the top of Mt. Kano offering traces of a former Japanese army artillery battery, as well as a fantastic view. For those who want to extend the hike and test their ability can embark on a five-hour long course.