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While Mt. Fuji may be the most recognizable symbol of Japan, the ultimate destination for hikers is the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido. The high mountains, deep valleys, and massive volcanoes are a must see for anyone with hiking boots and a passport.
Mt. Rausu is located in the Shiretoko Peninsula, an area said to be the last unexplored region of Japan. The highest point in the peninsula, Rausu was registered as a World Heritage site in 2005 thanks to its natural beauty and abundance of wildlife. Hikers might want to consider buying a can of bear spray before visiting as the area has one of the highest incidences of bear sightings in the country.
This is a mountain for the serious hikers in your group. Recognized as one of the most scenic – and challenging – hikes in the country, Poroshiri is located deep inside the Hidaka mountain range. At several points during the hike travelers will be forced to trek through a fiercely flowing river, so proceed with caution if it rains before or during the trip. Midsummer to early autumn is the ideal season to hike Mt. Poroshiri.
Yet another inactive volcano, Mt. Rishiri is listed among the “100 Famous Japanese Mountains” for its conic peak and panoramic view of the ocean. While more suitable for novice and intermediate hikers than Poroshiri, the trail is still quite challenging at certain points. The mountain officially opens for hiking and climbing in early July.
Located in western Hokkaido, this active volcano sits along the picturesque shore of Lake Shikotsu. The lake view alone is reason enough to climb to the top, but it isn’t all Tarumae has to offer; near the peak of the mountain is a massive (and unstable) lava dome. It is a sight to behold, but keep your distance – this is an active volcano and the fumes and gasses from the dome are extremely dangerous.