If I’m honest I still find the idea of hiking in the Japanese Alps daunting. It’s only recently that I’ve started making the switch from cycling and bike packing to hiking and exploring the mountains on foot so planning a trip can feel overwhelming at times. I know a little about Mt. Ontake and Mt. Norikura, and have briefly explored parts of the Chuo Alps (Central Alps/中央アルプス) and Minami Alps (South Alps/南アルプス), and know almost nothing about the Kita Alps (North Alps/北アルプス). There’s so much more that I need to learn before I can feel confident. I could join a local hiking club but that doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest. Small talk with strangers in the wilderness? No thanks. It’s solitude I’m after.
So it was an absolute blessing when I came across this book. It’s superb. It is clearly written, has detailed maps and directions with plenty of advice on mountain lodges (yamagoya/山小屋). I’m not sure how well these lodges will do post coronavirus as guests are usually crammed in together like sardines in a tin but the information is there for you in the book regardless. I stayed in one once and vowed never to stay in one again.
There are numerous treks listed to chose from divided between the three major mountain ranges in the centre of Japan, as well as Mt. Fuji. There’s also advice on getting to the trailheads, places to refill on water, alternative routes, and more.
In short, this book eliminates the apprehension I have when planning a trip and combined with the equally wonderful Yamap app covers pretty much all you’ll need to know when heading for the mountains. This year I plan to hike more than ever and have my eyes set on a mini traverse of the Minami Alps sometime in early autumn. This book will be indispensable.
This is not an affiliate link so I get no money from recommendations but if you’re interested in taking a closer look the publishers website is here. You can also download gps files.