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1. Mount Fuji

The official season for climbing Mount Fuji is July and August when there is no snow and the huts are open. Unfortunately it is also the summer vacation season and it does get quite crowded. If you want, you should try to climb before July 20th which is when the school term finishes. Try to avoid mid-August when most of people take their vacations. There are four different routes to climb Mount Fuji from the 5th Station which you can get to by car. Depending on which route you choose, the ascent can take from 5 hours to 10 hours and the descent 3 to 6 hours. 

2. Yakushima, Kagoshima

Yakushima is famous for its beautiful wilderness and ancient cryptomeria trees and was designated as a natural World Heritage Site in 1993. There are various hiking routes of different lengths, ranging from half day hikes to 3 to 4 day hikes. The oldest cryptomeria tree is known as Joumon Sugi since when it was initially discovered, it was believed to be from the Joumon period, about 4000 years ago. After further research, it is now believed to be between 2700 and 7000 years old. The hike to this tree is 22km and will take about 10-11 hours. To visit Yakushima, fly to Kagoshima and then take either a high-speed boat, which will take around 2-3 hours, or a ferry, which will take around 4 hours. 

3. Shirakami Sanchi, Aomori

Shirakami Sanchi is also a World Heritage Site and famous for its untouched wilderness. There are various hiking courses, with the most popular ones ranging from half an hour to 8 hours, so you can choose a course depending on your condition. There are also many famous hot springs in the area so after the hike, you can enjoy relaxing in the hot spring. You can visit Shirakami Sanchi either from Aomori or Akita.  

4. Mount Koya, Wakayama

At Mount Koya, you can hike the pilgrimage trails. There are several routes but the traditional one is the Koyasan Choishi Michi which is 23.5 km and takes about seven hours. If you would like to try this trail, take Nankai Koya Line to Kudoyama Station. If you are looking to push yourself, you can try the Kohechi Trail, which is a remote mountainous route and will take a week or so to complete, but please note that you will definitely need some preparation for this one. 

5. Mount Nikko-Shirane, Tochigi/Gunma

Mount Nikko-Shirane has a beautiful volcanic lake, and from the peak you can see Mount Fuji (if the weather is good). Most of the hikes are done between the end of April to early December but a winter hike is possible if you are properly equipped. There is a cable car so the hike can be done in around six hours. Young children can also enjoy this hike. To visit, take a train from Ueno station to either Numata station or Kaminoge Kougen and then a bus to Kamata and then to Marunuma Kougen. 

6. Shiretoko, Hokkaido

Shiretoko also is a World Heritage Site and is still full of wilderness. The beginners trekking course is around the lakes and hikers can admire the beautiful Shiretoko Mountain Chain. The starting point is the Shieretoko Goko parking area and is only 5km so this hike can be done in an hour and half. More advanced hikers can hike through the Shiretoko Mountain Chain. Although the season starts from July, there are still some snow in the beginning of July, so if you are not familiar with the routes, you should go when the snow has melted. If you are lucky (or unlucky depending on the situation), you might encounter some bears. 

7. Oze, Gunma

Oze is a 8,690ha national park and is famous for the Ozegahara Marshland and the Ozenuma Pond. You can enter Oze from Aizu, Fukushima or Numata, Gunma or Echigo, Nigata. Depending on where you enter, the hiking course you can take will be different, so you need to plan ahead of time to be able to hike the route you want. In late spring to early summer visitors can enjoy the blooming of skunk cabbages and in autumn, the seasonal colors. Although you can do most of the trails in a day, there are also mountain huts. 

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