The Japan Trail Advocacy Committee supports the creation of a 10,000 km long JAPAN TRAIL, linking together the existing walking trails criss-crossing the country from Okinawa in the south to Hokkaido in the north. The JAPAN TRAIL will give everyone from long-trail enthusiasts to recreational walkers and children the opportunity to (re)discover Japan and (re)connect with nature, using nothing more than their own two feet.
Modeled after the Appalachian Trail, Trans Canada Trail, and England Coast Path in the UK, the JAPAN TRAIL will link together Japan’s existing long walking trails, such as the Shinetsu Trail on the border between Nagano and Niigata Prefectures.
The route will start on the subtropical islands of Okinawa and Amami, cross the mountains of Kyushu from Mount Kaimondake to Honshu, through the San’in and Hokuriku regions, over the Japanese Alps where hikers can stop to look up at Mt Fuji. Traveling northwards across the Joshinetsu and Tohoku mountains, the JAPAN TRAIL will finally arrive in Rausu-dake, Shiretoko: the tip of subarctic Hokkaido. For international travelers as well as Japanese people, this offers a unique chance to experience the true diversity of Japan from the landscape to the seasons, the people and their culture.
JAPAN TRAIL will give people of all ages and abilities the opportunity to get out into nature and enjoy walking in ever-changing, beautiful scenery. Under the banner of Hiking Nippon, people who are new to long-walking, as well as seasoned hikers, will come together on the JAPAN TRAIL. International hikers, long-trail walkers, and other tourists will enjoy seeing a new side of Japan as they walk along the JAPAN TRAIL.
The Japan Trail Advocacy Committee believes this is the right time to finally link together the well-loved and now increasingly popular long trails across the country. Walking trails have been used for over a thousand years, since the days of the Shikoku, Oise and Kumano pilgrimages. The travelogs of the great haiku poet Matsuo Basho, such as Oku No Hosomichi (The Narrow Road to the Deep North), continue to serve as inspiration today. This tradition is gaining in popularity as people seek the mental and physical benefits of spending time outdoors.
Long trail walking is a form of slow travel, and the JAPAN TRAIL will give hikers the chance to form a deeper connection to local people, cultures, food as well as the natural environment. These journeys are meant to educate and have an emotional impact, in the present moment and for the future, while remaining sustainable for local communities and the environment. The tourism industry in these communities will be revitalized by interest in walking the JAPAN TRAIL.
The JAPAN TRAIL will give people a chance to decompress and relax, whether it’s for an afternoon, a weekend, a week, or longer. Neither the length nor the route people choose to take matters: of importance here is only the experience, and the long-lasting effects it will have on those who put one foot in front of the other, and begin their walking journey.