Active holidays in Japan
Wander the ancient pilgrimage routes of the Kumano Kodo, scramble up the rocky scree to the top of Mount Fuji, walk in the footsteps of samurai as you trace your way along the Nakasendo Highway or trek through mangroves on jungle-clad Iriomote - we can arrange short day walks or multi-day hiking itineraries of all lengths and difficulties.
If cycling is your game, challenging routes through mountainous rural regions offer 1,000-metre climbs, long sweeping descents and spectacular scenery to satisfy even the most indomitable cyclist.
The vast majority of Japan's population is squeezed into towns and cities that occupy less than 30% of the country's total area, leaving huge swathes of mountainous and undeveloped terrain ripe for exploration. With steaming volcanoes, vast forests and abundant nature occupying the length and breadth of the country, it couldn't be easier to incorporate a bit of the great outdoors into your itinerary.
Recommended Active Experiences
Get off the beaten track as you explore the cosmopolitan cities, traditional hot spring towns and primeval forests of Japan's third-biggest island.
The whole family can get stuck in to Japanese culture with this hands-on activity holiday.
Active accommodation across Japan
This Japanese-style hotel has lovely views of the surrounding mountains from the traditional rooms.
The hotel has a classic Japanese hot spring bathhouse and is located right next to the famous 'Kappa' bridge.
Ku Nel Asob (Iya Valley)
The Ku Nel Asob is a superb budget accommodation option. Luxurious it is not, but it is homely, welcoming and down-to-earth – in short, everything you could want from a stay in the Japanese countryside.
What the Ku Nel Asob lacks in slick service and luxury, it more than makes up for in character and charm – qualities that have made it a firm favourite in our book over the years. In fact, we've never heard review that was anything less than glowing.
An “eco guesthouse” housed in a 90-year-old building, guests at the Ku Nel Asob find themselves surrounded by the stunning mountain scenery of Shikoku. This is one of the most remote and rural parts of Japan – and it really does feel like it.
Facilities are basic, but this only serves to heighten the authenticity of the experience. The shared toilet facilities are located in the main building, so if you are lodging in the small separate building you will need to walk across to use them. There is no bathhouse at the inn, but guests are invited to use the onsen in the village free of charge – the guesthouse owner, Nori-san, will drive you there.
Macrobiotic vegetarian meals are included in every stay, and are both wholesome and delicious! Nori-san speaks excellent English and will do everything he can to provide information about the local area and make your stay as comfortable as possible.
Blue Sky Guesthouse (Hongu)
The Blue Sky Guest house offers simple, traditional accommodation with a very warm Japanese welcome.
Located just a short walk from Hongu Taisha Shrine, one of the three major shrines in the Kumano area, this is the ideal place to be based for exploring the surrounding pilgrimage routes.
The wooden building looks out over a garden with a stream, and is surrounded by woodland. There are only four guest rooms, all of which are simple tatami-mat rooms with en suite bathrooms. Breakfast is served each morning in the communal dining room and there is also a shared kitchen which guests are welcome to use should they want to prepare their own lunch or dinners. There are plenty of restaurants nearby if you prefer to eat out.
In terms of décor, location and facilities this is already a great option for anyone wanting to explore the Kumano region. However, what makes this place truly special is the extremely helpful and friendly owner who speaks English and is more than happy to make sightseeing and restaurant recommendations and help with anything you need. There is free WiFi throughout the accommodation and also laundry facilities.
Shiki no Yado Onoaida (Yakushima)
The Shiki no Yado Onoaida is a friendly, welcoming and well-kept Japanese inn, located amid the beautiful scenery of the southern part of Yakushima. This inn is testament to the truth that superb accommodation in Japan needn't cost the earth.
The Shiki no Yado Onoaida is not a luxurious or exclusive property – it is not even the most expensive on Yakushima – and yet it is consistently adored by guests, as evidenced by its 100% positive Tripadvisor rating.
The inn is run by a local couple with two young children, and has an informal, family atmosphere that immediately endears it to visitors. The hosts, Kentaro and Chan, who both speak excellent English, are eager to answer any questions and help you out in any way they can – including arranging activities, making reservations or helping you rent a car.
The inn serves organic food sourced from its own garden and has a lovely terrace area from which to enjoy the hills and mountains of this wild island. Hiking trails stretch out from the front door, and some of the rooms have outdoor hot spring baths in which you can soak the evening away while enjoying the spectacular views.