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Lake Mashu | © Hajime NAKANO/Flickr
Lake Mashu | © Hajime NAKANO/Flickr

The 10 Most Beautiful National Parks in Japan

Picture of Alicia Joy
Tokyo Writer
Updated: 12 January 2017
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. Explore the nation’s 10 most beautiful national parks.


Kerama Shotō National Park

Located in Okinawa Prefecture, the Kerama Shotō National Park includes the tropical Kerama Islands, from which the park takes its name. The region is filled with gorgeous turquoise waters and white-sand beaches. It’s no surprise water sports like swimming and snorkeling are the main attraction here.

Kerama Islands, Japan

Kerama Islands | © SteFou!/Flickr

Beautiful blue waters beckon at Kerama Islands | © SteFou!/Flickr

Shiretoko National Park

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

Japan, Hokkaido Prefecture, Menashi District, 羅臼町

Deer in Shiratoko National Park | © Mr Hicks46/Flickr

Deer are just some of the wildlife found in Shiretoko National Park | © Mr Hicks46/Flickr

Akan National Park

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

Akan National Park, Teshikaga, Kawakami District, Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan

Lake Mashu | © Hajime NAKANO/Flickr

The view at Lake Mashu is captivating | © Hajime NAKANO/Flickr

Nikko National Park

Nikko National Park 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. Nikko National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Nikko National Park, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan

Toshogu Shrine | © DavideGorla/Flickr

Visit Toshogu Shrine at Nikko National Park | © DavideGorla/Flickr

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.

Yoshino-Kumano National Park, Japan

© Kimon Berlin/Flickr

Mount Yoshino is one of nature’s gems | © Kimon Berlin/Flickr

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 7000 years old.

Yakushima, Kumage District, Kagoshima Prefecture Japan

Jomonsugi | © Σ64/WikiCommons

The ancient Jomonsugi has been standing for thousands of years  | © Σ64/WikiCommons

Fuji Hakone Izu National Park

Due to its close proximity 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.

Fuji Hakone Izu National Park, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan

© Richard, enjoy my life!/Flickr

Hakone is filled with history and beauty | © Richard, enjoy my life!/Flickr

Towada Hachimantai National Park

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

Hachimantai, Iwate Prefecture 028-7100 Japan

© Joka2000/Flickr

Lake Towada | © Joka2000/Flickr

Kirishima-Kinkowan National Park

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

Sakurajima, Kagoshima, Kagoshima Prefecture 891-1417 Japan

© Yoshikazu TAKADA/Flickr

With scenery like this, it’s clear why Sakurajima attracts visitors | © Yoshikazu TAKADA/Flickr

Sanin Kaigan National Park

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

Tottori Sand Dunes, 2164-661 Fukubecho Yuyama, Tottori-shi, Tottori-ken 689-0105, Japan

© Hashi photo/WikiCommons

Young and old enjoy checking out the Tottori Sand Dunes | © Hashi photo/WikiCommons