National Parks in Japan 国立公園
Japan has 30 National Parks designated so by the Ministry of the Environment for protection and sustainable use, and over 50 Quasi National Parks. National Parks cover around 6% of Japan's total land area.
- Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park
Rebun and Rishiri are two islands in the Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park reached by boat from Wakkanai on the far northern coast of Hokkaido. Both Rebun and Rishiri are known for their rare alpine flowers in summer. Mt. Rishiri is a beautiful Fuji-like dormant volcano in the center of Rishiri that can be hiked.
- Shiretoko National Park
Shiretoko National Park in north east Hokkaido is one of the most remote areas of Japan. Shiretoko can be explored on long hiking tours or by sightseeing boats. The coastline is rugged and lined with tall rocks, the mountains in the interior rise steeply up with Rausu-dake being the tallest at 1660m, the forests are the home of Japan's largest population of Ezo brown bears and Blakiston's Fish Owl. Beyond the coastal settlements, almost all of the peninsula is classified as UNESCO World Natural Heritage.
- Akan National Park
The highlights of Akan National Park, also in eastern Hokkaido, in mainly covered in subarctic forest, and includes Kawasu Onsen, Mt. Io (Atosanupuri), Mt. Mokoto, Lake Kussharo, Tsutsujigahara and the beautiful Lake Mashu. Lake Akan is known for its strange marimo - a species of green algae (Cladophora sauteri) that forms spheres.
- Daisetsuzan National Park
Daisetsuzan National Park is the largest of Japan's National Parks with an area of almost 232,000 hectares in the center of Hokkaido. with a huge snow-capped mountain range, and volcanic activity. Places of particular interest in the park include Sounkyo Gorge, Tokachidake with its hiking in summer and snow-shoeing in winter to the various peaks in the area, Mikuni Pass, Lake Shikaribetsu and Aizankei.
- Kushiro Shitsugen National Park
Kushiro Shitsugen National Park preserves Japan's largest wetland, and has the great Kushiro River snaking through it. This park is home to a population of Japanese cranes which can be seen at various feeding centers and observation places.
The landscape encompasses lots of small lakes, such as Lake Toro and swamps. Visitors can also ride on a romantic winter steam train between Kushiro and Shibecha stations and enjoy canoeing in the area. The natural phenomenon of omiwatari can be observed in winter on Lake Kussharo, where linear cracks and fissures appear in the ice on the surface of the frozen lake.
- Shikotsu-Toya National Park
Shikotsu-Toya National Park is close to Sapporo and offers skiing, onsen and hiking in a landscape of volcanic crater lakes and mountain peaks, with a lot of volcanic activity. Places of particular interest include Lake Toya, Lake Okotanpe, Lake Hangetsu, Mt. Tarumae and Mt. Orofure.
Tohoku, in the far north of Honshu has three National Parks.
- Towada-Hachimantai National Park
Towada-Hachimantai National Park covers areas of Aomori, Akita and Iwate prefectures. Places of interest include the Hachimantai mountain range, Lake Towada, Oirase Gorge (famous for its autumn leaves), Mt. Hakkoda plus the hot springs at Nyuto Onsen and Tamagawa Onsen.
- Sanriku Fukko National Park
Sanriku Fukko National Park is known for the fantastic seascape of the Sanriku Coast stretching along the dramatic coastline of Aomori, Iwate and Miyagi prefectures. Sanriku Fukko National Park (meaning "Sanriku Reconstruction National Park" or "Sanriku Recovery National Park") was established in 2013 to help the area recover from the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake & Tsunami and incorporated the former Rikuchu Kaigan National Park and and Tanesashi Kaigan Hashikamidake Prefectural Natural Park. Kabushima near Hachinohe is known for a breeding colony of Blacked tailed gulls, while Unosu Dangai resembles a Japanese folding fan and is a nesting site for cormorants.
- Bandai-Asahi National Park
Bandai-Asahi National Park consists of four separate volcanic mountain chains: the area around Lake Inawashiro, the Bandai-Azuma mountains, the Asahi-Gassan mountains and Mount Iide.
Kanto, the area of northern Japan surrounding and including Tokyo has six National Parks. including Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park and Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park which covers the scenic areas of Hakone and Mount Fuji.
- Nikko National Park
Nikko National Park in Tochigi and Gunma prefectures includes the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Nikko - the Toshogu Shrine, the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Tokugawa shogun, as well as Lake Chuzenji and the Kegon Falls area and the Kirifuri Highland and Kawaji and Yumoto hot springs. Places of natural beauty in Nikko National Park are Mt. Shirane, Mt. Nantai, Mt. Nasu-dake and the Senjogahara and Kinu marshes.
- Oze National Park
Oze National Park is a popular hiking spot about 100km north of Tokyo. In autumn the high marshland grasses turn a lovely red and yellow color. In early autumn the nikko-kisuge (yellow alpine lily) can also be seen. The highland marshland is at an altitude of around 1,400 meters and the Oze National Park covers areas in four prefectures: Gunma, Fukushima, Niigata and Tochigi.
- Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park
Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park encompasses outstanding scenery in Saitama, Tokyo, Yamanashi and Nagano prefectures. Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park is a 1,262 square kilometer (487 square mile) national park comprising the Tama, Chichibu and Kai districts. Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park is mainly mountainous, covered with forest, wound through with gorges and rivers, and includes several towns as well. Highlights include the Mitake-Shosenkyo Gorge and Nishizawa Ravine.
- Joshinetsu Kogen National Park
Joshinetsu Kogen National Park is the second largest National Park in Japan and includes the volcanic peaks of Mt. Asama (2,568 meters), Mt. Shirane (2,138 meters), Mt. Tanigawa and the Shibu Pass on the former Kusatsu-Kaido Highway. Shiga Kogen is a popular ski resort.
- Ogasawara National Park
Ogasawara National Park includes parts of Chichijima Island, Minamishima Island and the Senjiniwa ("Heart Rock") on the south coast of Chichijima Island. The subtropical Ogasawara Islands are located far out in the Pacific Ocean, 1,100km south of Tokyo and are a three part cluster of more than 30 islands. The extreme isolation of these volcanic, oceanic islands makes them a fascinating example of evolutionary processes in action. The waters around the islands are particularly rich in corals, fish and cetaceans, while onshore the flora is a unique combination of Southeast Asian and northwest Asian colonists, with a number of endemic species that have evolved in situ. One of several endemic birds, the Bonin Island Honeyeater, still survives (several other species are extinct).
- Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park
Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park includes the hot spring resort of Hakone as well as Mount Fuji (3,776 meters) and the Fuji Five Lakes area at the foot of the mountain. To the south, parts of the coastline of the Izu Peninsula are also part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.
Chubu (Central Japan)
The Chubu area of central Honshu has three National Parks. These include areas of outstanding beauty in the Japanese Alps in Nagano and Gifu prefectures and also parts of the Nakasendo Highway, a very popular hiking route. These mountain areas are perfect places to escape the hassles and crowds of Japan's major cities.
- Chubu-Sangaku National Park
Chubu-Sangaku National Park includes the the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, Kamikochi with its spectacular mountain scenery and Mt. Tateyama, one of the three most sacred mountains in Japan, together with Mt. Fuji and Mt. Hakusan. Other highlights are Kurobe Dam, Kurobe Gorge, Mt. Norikura-dake, Shinhodaka and Hakuba Daisekkei Gorge, Japan's largest snowy gorge.
- Hakusan National Park
Hakusan National Park includes Mt Hakusan, the tallest peak in western Japan at 2,702 meters. Other attractions in Hakusan National Park are Heisenji Temple, famous for its carpets of moss under tall cedar trees, the man-made Lake Hakusui and Shiramizu-no-taki, one of the three most famous waterfalls in Japan.
- Minami Alps National Park
Minami Alps National Park (South Alps National Park) includes the high peaks of Mt. Kita-dake, Mt. Kaikomagatake and Mt. Senjogatake in the northern part of the park and Mt. Hijiri-dake, Mt. Akaishi-dake and Mt. Arakawa-dake in the south.
Western Japan (Kansai)
Kansai has two National Parks.
- Ise-Shima National Park
Ise-Shima National Park includes the coastline of the Ise-Shima region famous for its pearl diving and pearl cultivation and the Ise Jingu Grand Shrine, a complex of over 120 shrines in Mie Prefecture.
- Yoshino-Kumano National Park
Yoshino-Kumano National Park is best known for the twin peaks of Mt. Omine and Mt. Yoshino. The former is a UNESCO World Heritage Site on an ancient Shugendo pilgrimage route which includes the popular Kumano Kodo walk, the latter is world famous for its spectacular cherry blossoms in spring. Other must-sees in the park include Nachi Falls, Dorokyo Gorge, the Ugui Peninsula, Kushimoto Marine Park and Shichirimihama Beach.
Chugoku & Shikoku
The regions of Chugoku and Shikoku in west central Japan have four National Parks.
- Daisen-Oki National Park
Daisen-Oki National Park includes parts of the prefectures of Shimane, Tottori and Okayama. Highlights of this area are the unspoiled Oki Islands off the coast of Shimane, reached by ferry from Matsue, Mt. Daisen (1,731 meters) in Tottori Prefecture, and the Kuniga and Akiye coastlines.
- Sanin Kaigan National Park
Sanin Kaigan National Park stetches 75km along the Sea of Japan coastline combining the Tottori Sand Dunes and Kinosaki Onsen, a popular, traditional onsen with the feel of ages gone by. Other notable places in the park are Takenohama, the Tango sand dunes in Amino in Kyoto Prefecture and Genbudo Cave.
- Setonaikai National Park
Setonaikai National Park covers the Inland Sea of Japan and sections of its lovely coast. The area stretches from Mt. Rokko in Kobe to Mount Takasaki in Beppu, Oita Prefecture. The sea is studded with picturesque islands, the most famous of which is Miyajima in Hiroshima, where the sacred Ikutsushima Shrine is situated. Other islands within the National Park are Inujima, Megijima, Naoshima, Ogijima and Shodoshima.
- Ashizuri-Uwakai National Park
Ashizuri-Uwakai National Park in Shikoku includes scenic Cape Ashizuri on the southernmost tip of Shikoku, Cape Komo, the uninhabited island of Kashima, Uwakai Marine Park, Tatsukushi Marine Park, the Oki Coast, Nametoko Gorge, Mt. Sasa and Kashiwajima.
Kyushu & Okinawa
The Kyushu and Okinawa region in south west Japan has six National Parks.
- Saikai National Park
Saikai National Park in north western Kyushu includes the Goto Islands (Cape Ose, Wakamatsu Seto, Takahama) and parts of Hirado Island (Ishidake Observatory, Nagushiyama Park, Obae Lighthouse) in Nagasaki Prefecture.
- Unzen-Amakusa National Park
Unzen-Amakusa National Park was one of Japan's first designated National Parks established way back in 1934. Mount Unzen in Nagasaki Prefecture is an active volcano. A ropeway ascends part of the way up the mountain from where a number of hiking trails radiate over the slopes to the top.
- Aso-Kuju National Park
Aso-Kuju National Park features Mount Aso, the largest active caldera in Japan with numerous hiking trails reaching up to its various craters, lakes and peaks in this spectacular natural feature. Mt. Kuju in Oita Prefecture is the highest peak on Kyushu Island at 1,791 meters. Highlights are Kurodake Nature Forest, Mt. Taisen's azaleas, Shirakawa Suigen spring and Komezuka peak.
- Kirishima-Yaku National Park
The Kirishima-Yaku National Park, in Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures, features the Kirishima highland, a scenic hiking area, where it is possible to view crater lakes and a wide array of flora and fauna. Mt. Takachiho, 1574m, has magnificent scenery and views - Sakurajima is visible on a clear day. In order to reach the top of Takachiho, you must climb to the top of Mt. Ochahi and hike around the crater lake, which is 2-3 meters deep and has a stunning color. It is not advised to make this hike on windy days, as it can be quite dangerous. Kirishima has ten crater lakes, but this is the only one that you are able to get close to. The summit is a 3-hour hike from Kirishima-Yasu or half that from Takachiho-gawara, 7km up the road.
- Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park
Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park comprises the tropical islands and marine environments of the Yaeyama Islands in south west Okinawa. Highlights of this National Park consist of Iriomotejima, which incorporates the Urauchi River, the longest river in Okinawa Prefecture, the the Nakama River and its mangrove swamps, the Pinaisara Falls on the Hinai River, the highest waterfall in Okinawa and Haemida Beach with a view of Haterumajima, the most southerly island of Japan. Iriomote National Park preserves over 34% of the island's 289 square kilometer area. Mt. Komi at 469m is Iriomote's highest peak.
- Kerama Shoto National Park
Kerama Shoto National Park covers areas of scenic beauty in the Kerama Islands - a group of 22 islands located 32 kilometres southwest of Okinawa Island, four of which are inhabited. Takara's House on Geruma Island, Nishibama Beach on Aka Island, Kaminohama Recreational Ground on wetlands on Zamami Island and Mt. Takatsukiyama on Zamami are all noted tourist attractions.
- Yakushima National Park
Yakushima is one of Japan's last great wildernesses. With a backdrop of lush green mountains, sparkling blue water, and rare flowers and animals, Yakushima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture is an incredible place to spend a few days. Included areas of interest in the National Park are Kuchinoerabushima with a a unique volcanic landscape, Kurio Marine Park Zone, Nagata Beach, a breeding site for loggerhead turtles and the Mae-dake and Oku-dake mountains.
Quasi National Parks 国定公園
Japan has over 50 Quasi National Parks which are managed by the prefectures under the supervision of the Ministry of the Environment.
- Abashiri Quasi-National Park
- Hidaka-sanmyaku Erimo Quasi-National Park
- Niseko-Shakotan-Otaru Kaigan Quasi-National Park
- Onuma Quasi-National Park
- Shokanbetsu-Teuri-Yagishiri Quasi-National Park
- Chokai Quasi-National Park
- Hayachine Quasi-National Park
- Kurikoma Quasi-National Park
- Minami-Sanriku Kinkazan Quasi-National Park
- Oga Quasi-National Park
- Shimokita Hanto Quasi-National Park
- Tsugaru Quasi-National Park
- Zao Quasi-National Park
- Minami Boso Quasi-National Park
- Meiji no Mori Takao Quasi-National Park
- Suigo-Tsukuba Quasi-National Park
- Tanzawa-Oyama Quasi-National Park
- Aichi Kogen Quasi-National Park
- Echizen-Kaga Kaigan Quasi-National Park
- Echigo Sanzan-Tadami Quasi-National Park
- Hida-Kisogawa Quasi-National Park
- Ibi-Sekigahara-Yoro Quasi-National Park
- Mikawa Wan Quasi-National Park
- Myogi-Arafune-Saku Kogen Quasi-National Park
- Noto Hanto Quasi-National Park
- Sado-Yahiko-Yoneyama Quasi-National Park
- Tenryu-Okumikawa Quasi-National Park
- Yatsugatake-Chushin Kogen Quasi-National Park
- Biwako Quasi-National Park
- Kongo-Ikoma-Kisen Quasi-National Park
- Koya-Ryujin Quasi-National Park
- Meiji no Mori Mino Quasi-National Park
- Muro-Akame-Aoyama Quasi-National Park
- Suzuka Quasi-National Park
- Tango-Amanohashidate-Oeyama Quasi-National Park
- Wakasa Wan Quasi-National Park
- Yamato-Aogaki Quasi-National Park
Chugoku and Shikoku
- Akiyoshidai Quasi-National Park
- Hiba-Dogo-Taishaku Quasi-National Park
- Hyonosen-Ushiroyama-Nagisan Quasi-National Park
- Ishizuchi Quasi-National Park
- Kita Nagato Kaigan Quasi-National Park
- Muroto-Anan Kaigan Quasi-National Park
- Nishi-Chugoku Sanchi Quasi-National Park
- Tsurugisan Quasi-National Park
Kyushu & Okinawa
- Kitakyushu Quasi-National Park
- Genkai Quasi-National Park
- Yaba-Hita-Hikosan Quasi-National Park
- Iki-Tsushima Quasi-National Park
- Kyushu Chuo Sanchi Quasi-National Park
- Nippo Kaigan Quasi-National Park
- Sobo Katamuki Quasi-National Park
- Nichinan Kaigan Quasi-National Park
- Amami Gunto Quasi-National Park
- Okinawa Kaigan Quasi-National Park
- Okinawa Senseki Quasi-National Park