Climbing Mount Fuji may be a dream for many, but Japan's real gem is the Japan Alps, a mountain range running along the centre of Honshu main island. Not only do the Japan Alps harbour superb ski resorts in the winter, but in the summer they offer hundreds of miles of beautiful scenery and superb hiking opportunities to rival anywhere in the world. From the stunning surroundings of Kamikochi to the great cedar-lined avenues of Togakushi, the Japan Alps certainly do not disappoint.
“I will never forget my first visit to this region, driving up into the mountains as dusk fell and the silhouetted peaks formed huge brooding shapes above me. When I finally arrived into the Kamikochi National Park it felt like I had entered another world. ”
Alastair Donnelly, Director
Neon lights, skyscrapers and crowded metropolises are what usually spring to mind when visitors think of Japan, so it surprises many to find there is an expanse of rocky landscape to discover for the more adventurous. More than 70% of Japan's landmass is mountainous and covered by forests, pushing much of the 127 million strong population to the well-populated coastal areas and creating a central wilderness within the country.
The Japan Alps cover a large area of central chubu, from Nagano in the north, to Shizuoka in the south. Although only two-thirds the scale of the European equivalent, the Japanese mountains have a greater variety of deciduous plants and trees, along with extinct volcanic cones. During the early autumn in late September and early October, the leaves turn to produce swathes of russet colours, attracting visitors who wish to view the Koyo or colourful leaves.
Throughout the winter months there are plentiful ski resorts for some of the best powder skiing in the world. You can choose between the Olympic resort of Hakuba, Shiga Kogen, the largest combined resort in Japan, or the smaller village-style Nozawa Onsen. All resorts offer fantastic skiing away from the crowded European resorts, a chance to experience true Japanese culture and of course the obligatory hot-spring onsen to relax the muscles for après-ski.
Once the snow has melted however, the Alps are a haven for fresh, bracing air whilst the low-lying areas are sweltering away in the summer heat. During the summer, the highlands are carpeted with a vibrant palette of alpine flowers and together with the scent of the creeping pine, the buzzing of hoverflies and the chance of sighting Japanese wildlife, hiking in this area is definitely worthwhile. Whether you like a gentle stroll across rolling hillsides, picnicking under the soft green larch trees - or a full-blown scramble to the 3000m summits, staying in mountain huts and searching for the Asian black bear ? there is something for you.
Weather in Japan Alps
The Climate Guide for Japan Alps, Japan is perfect for planning your holiday. Monthly weather averages give the best indication of what the weather is usually like for every month of the year including figures for temperature, rainfall and sunshine.
|Max Daytime Temperature (°C)||1||1||6||13||18||21||24||26||21||15||10||4|
|Min Night-time Temperature (°C)||-9||-9||-5||1||6||11||16||17||13||5||-1||-6|
|Hours of Sunshine (Daily)||5||5||6||6||7||5||5||6||4||5||5||5|
|Hours of Daylight (Daily)||10||11||12||13||14||15||14||14||12||11||10||10|
|Heat and Humidity Discomfort||None||None||None||None||None||None||None||Low||None||None||None||None|
|Days with some Rainfall||19||18||18||16||16||20||23||20||19||14||14||17|
|Monthly Rainfall (mm)||30||47||79||102||119||194||210||167||210||104||59||22|
|UV Index (Maximum)||2||4||5||7||9||10||11||10||8||5||3||2|
Featured trips including Japan Alps
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Pile into your rental car for an unforgettable family adventure around Japan, including the Japan Alps, and the outdoor adventure mecca of Minakami.
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