Thursday, April 15, 2010

Japan: Top Adventures

Mountains, volcanoes, rivers, lakes and ocean – these may not be the first things that pop to mind when you think of Japan. In fact, you are probably more inclined to think of Japan’s metropolises. You will be surprised to know that more of Japan is covered by mountains than cities and this means there is no shortage of outdoor activities to enjoy.

Skiing - You will find the best resorts in the Hokkaido, Nagano, Niigata and Tohoku regions and runs to suit all levels.

Trekking/ Hiking – Every year in July and August, thousands of Japanese and international visitors alike make the climb to the top of Mt. Fuji, Japan’s tallest and most revered mountain.
If it is a religious pilgrimage you are interested in, there are 88 Buddhist temples that form part of a 40 day hike around Shikoku Island. Or travel to the spiritual Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route, a set of World Heritage listed trails around Wakayama prefecture. The tranquil ambience will carry you away to another world.

Mountain Biking/ Cycling - Mt Fuji is not just for climbing. At the base of the mountain you will find a myriad of trails for walking and biking. Hop on your bike and explore the local landscape of waterfalls and streams.

Heading over to Nagano, you will find mountain biking trails to suit most levels around Hakuba. Mountain biking has grown in popularity here recently and there are new trail building projects, races and annual events to keep you entertained.

Kayaking/ Rafting – Up north in Niseko (Hokkaido), take to the rafts as the snow melts and floods the rivers in spring. For something a little less challenging, raft or kayak the rivers in summer when the water is much calmer.

For world-class rafting, head to the Tone River in the Minakami region of Gunma prefecture. From April to June the river provides consistent grade four rapids for over twelve kilometres.

Kayak on Lake Aoki or navigate the rivers in Hakuba (Nagano). Alternatively, you may like to challenge yourself to the grade two rapids of nearby Hime River.

Scuba Diving/ Snorkeling – The Izu Islands are a string of seven islands floating in the Pacific Ocean south of Tokyo. They form part of the Fuji volcanic belt. Their moderate climate makes them the perfect destination of marine sports, including scuba diving.

Surfing – Surfing may be the last thing you would think to do in Japan. You will find plenty of waves without having to travel too far. Kujukuri-hama beach is in Tokyo’s neighboring, Chiba prefecture and is a rare 66 kilometers coastline. The lack of reefs makes for some consistent and powerful beach breaks. Kamakura in Kanagawa is another beach also close to Tokyo and is quite popular due to its accessibility.

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