Take a moment and imagine Japan. What comes to mind? Is it the glowing city lights, the overflowing road crossings, or the tiny restaurants tucked inside narrow alleyways?
Beyond the bustling city is a unique side of Japan that is seemingly untouched. Over 70% of Japan's land is covered by mountains, forests, small local towns and stunning shrines. I arrive in central Japan on a two-week adventure to experience this country's pristine lands.
Best time to go
By November, Fall is over in Ontario, but it's a stunning time to visit Japan. The weather is not too cold, festivities are just around the corner, and foliage colours are at their best (colours peak anywhere from mid-October to mid-November).
The majority of Japan is in the temperate zone of the Temperate Rainforest. In other words, it rains cats and dogs (similar to British Columbia in Canada). Combine moisture with high altitudes, and the weather can feel considerably colder. Prepare layers that keep you warm and dry, and focus on being lightweight because you'll be walking a lot! Running shoes are sufficient as roads are exceptionally well-maintained but bring hiking shoes if you're planning a challenging hike in the mountain ranges.
I'm testing the Cerium LT Hoody
from Arc'teryx. It checked all the boxes: lightweight, easy to layer, and kept me safe from the elements.
is a 1.5 hr train ride from Tokyo and is a popular weekend spot for hot springs and views of Mt. Fuji. A short stay at a traditional inn called Ryokan is a must; they feature tatami-style rooms with private indoor/outdoor onsen (hot spring). Multi-course dinner and breakfast are included for a multi-sensory experience. At dawn, head down to Ashinoko Lake to see the iconic Hakone-jinja torii gate, one of the most popular photography spots. Come early to avoid crowds!