Four Adventurous Ways to See Japan's Natural Beauty
Despite its reputation for urban density, Japan has no shortage of natural wonders — many of which are best seen on foot, bicycle, or a pair of skis. Budget a few extra days into your travel plans for a wilderness adventure.
Walk Japan offers more than 20 guided small-group multiday tours around the country. Highlights include a trek in the footsteps of the 17th-century poet Bashō through the mountainous Tōhoku region; a ramble from Kyoto to Tokyo along the ancient Nakasendō way; and an expedition along the Kumano Kōdō forest trails, which spiritual seekers have been following since the sixth century.
Known for its heavy snowfall, Hokkaido is a haven for skiers. Among the many resorts near Mount Yotei in the southwestern part of the island, Niseko Village is popular for its profusion of powder, while nearby Rusutsu Resort provides great tree skiing. Kiroro Resort, about an hour north, is more family-friendly, with a ski school and snow park.
The bucolic Nara Prefecture is one of the best places in this bike-friendly country to explore on two wheels. A seven-day guided tour by DuVine visits tea fields, Buddhist temples, and luxurious onsens, with stops for kaiseki meals, yakitori, and sake along the way.
Since 2000, tour operator Canyons has been leading rafting excursions on the wild upper reaches of the Tone River near the town of Minakami, 100 miles northwest of Tokyo. The company also offers canyoning tours that include ziplining down canyons and rappelling off waterfalls.