The Most Beautiful National Parks in Japan

Head to Shiretoko National Park to see the resident population of brown bears
Head to Shiretoko National Park to see the resident population of brown bears | © Scott Sim / Alamy
Alicia Joy

Tokyo Writer

Japan is home to dozens of national parks and a wide range of habitats, from tropical beaches and active volcanoes to ancient forests and crater lakes. Ready to explore? Here are the most beautiful national parks in Japan.

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Kerama Shotō National Park

In the Okinawa Prefecture, the Kerama Shotō National Park includes the tropical Kerama Islands, after which the park is named. The region is filled with gorgeous turquoise waters and white-sand beaches. It’s no surprise water sports such as swimming and snorkelling are the main attractions here.

Shiretoko National Park

Shiretoko Park in Hokkaido is famous for wildlife, and in particular the large resident population of brown bears. In summertime, wary travellers can view them from the safety of sightseeing boats. The unspoiled beauty here and value as a conservation area has earned it recognition as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Akan National Park

Another Hokkaido national park is Akan. This draw here is the cluster of volcanoes surrounding three main lakes. One of these is Lake Mashū, famed for its beauty.

Nikko National Park

Nikko National Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site, is located in the Kanto region and is easily accessible from Tokyo. It’s home to the beautiful Toshogu Shrine, where the late Tokugawa Ieyasu rests, as well as the Kinugawa Onsen, a hot spring town along the banks of the Kinu River.

Yoshino-Kumano National Park

Yoshino-Kumano National Park includes Mount Yoshino, often called the best place for hanami (welcoming spring) in all of Japan due to the multitude of sakura (cherry blossom) growing there. It’s also home to the Kumano Sanzan, a group of sacred ancient shrines in the Kumano Region.

Yakushima National Park

Heavily wooded Yakushima National Park is home to some of the oldest trees in Japan. The most famous of these is Jomonsugi, an enormous cedar believed to be up to 7,000 years old.

Fuji Hakone Izu National Park

Close to Tokyo, Fuji Hakone Izu is the most popular of Japan’s national parks. Beautiful Hakone is famous for its ancient history, its shrine and hot springs in addition to views of nearby Mount Fuji.

Towada Hachimantai National Park

In the northern Tohoku region, Towada Hachimantai National Park – home to Lake Towada, Nyuto Onsen and the Hachimantai Mountains – attract thousands of visitors each year. It’s particularly beautiful in autumn when the leaves change colour.

Kirishima-Kinkowan National Park

Live volcanoes can be found on Kirishima-Kinkowan’s Sakurajima, while the Kirishima Coast is a well-travelled hiking route.

Sanin Kaigan National Park

This vast coastal park hugs the Sea of Japan. The enormous Tottori Sand Dunes are one of the highlights here, as well as the picturesque Kinosaki Onsen town.

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