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Hiking in Japan
Hiking in Japan

Can I go walking and trekking in Japan? 2020 Coronavirus restrictions.

Wes Lang
By Wes Lang
10 minute read

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, things are far from normal in the Japan Alps. Not only have most huts reduced capacity, but others have opted to remain closed for the entire duration of the hiking season. Wes Lang has shared this news for Cicerone readers.

Last updated: July 16, 2020

Those planning trips to the Japan Alps should plan well in advance and keep in mind that nearly all accommodation, including campsites, require advance booking.

The following information will be continually updated and is subject to change. Listings are based on the treks outlined in our Japan Alps guidebook, so please reference it when planning your hikes. For full information please check our author's page dedicated to the Covid-19 changes to Hiking in Japan.

Kita Alps

Walk 1 – Mt Shirouma-dake (campsite and hut by advanced booking only)

The trails to Mt Shiouma-dake are currently open, but the hut situation is in a constant state of flux. Hakuba-chojō-shukusha hut is planning to open on July 18th. However, due to the bad weather, helicopter deliveries have been delayed, meaning meals will not be served. Visitors are urged to camp instead and bring their own provisions.

Sarukurasō is currently open for business and is selling supplies to hikers heading for the summit. Those interested in staying at the hut are advised to contact them directly to inquire about availability. Don’t just show up expecting a room for the night or you may be sleeping in the adjacent public toilet.

Hakuba Sansō is currently open for business, but advanced bookings are required. For the upcoming holiday weekend (July 23-26) the hut (and campground) is fully booked. However, cancellations are a possibility, so inquire by telephone on the morning of the 23rd to check on last-minute cancellations. Hikers without advanced booking may be denied accommodation so please plan accordingly.

My advice: Avoid exposing yourself to risks in the hut and consider doing Mt Shirouma-dake as a day hike if you’re fit and fast. Otherwise, book a tent space and stay clear of other groups.

Trek 1 – Mt Shirouma-dake and Hakuba-Yari Onsen (Closed)

Walk 2 – Mt Tateyama (open – COVID-19 counter-measures in effect)

The Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route is currently running, but with special measures to help prevent COVID-19 infection. Be sure to budget extra time for access to Murodō, especially during the weekends and on holidays. Please wear a mask and make use of the alcohol disinfectant where provided, and avoid traveling to Tateyama if you experience a fever or any other symptoms of infection.

Mikuri-ga-ike Onsen hut is currently open, but advanced reservations are required. The hut has asked visitors to avoid staying in groups larger than three. Masks are required for all visitors, and alcohol disinfectant has been installed at the entrance. Please use it upon entry. The hot spring is open for day-trippers as well, but a mask is required to enter the building.

Raichōsawa hut and campground are currently open and the hut requires advance booking. There’s no indication on whether the campground requires a booking, so I would phone the hut directly (076-463-1835) directly to inquire. Better to be safe than sorry.

Walk 3 – Mt Oku-dainichi-dake (open – COVID-19 counter-measures in effect)

See Walk 2 above. Those continuing past the summit to Shōmyō Falls should be aware that Dainichi-goya will be closed for the remainder of 2020.

Trek 2 – Mt Tsurugi-dake (open – COVID-19 counter-measures in effect)

Tsurugi-gozen-goya will open on July 17th and, in addition to an advanced booking, a mask is required for all guests. Alcohol sales have also been suspended for the 2020 hiking season.

Tsurugi-sawa-goya is currently open for business, but an advanced booking is required. Tatami rooms have been partitioned with plywood dividers to help spread infection. Masks are also required. Tsurugi-sawa campground is also reported to be open, but it unclear as to whether advanced booking is required. Phone the management company directly (090-1632-9140) to inquire.

Kenzan-sō is open for business, albeit with a 50% reduction in capacity as a COVID countermeasure. Advanced bookings are required. This is the closest hut to the trailhead and will surely fill up quickly this summer.

Hayatsuki-goya will be closed for the duration of 2020. Hikers climbing via the Hayatsuki-one route should be aware that there is no water source on the route. Campers are welcome to set up camp next to the hut but should bring enough water to sustain them for their trip.

Trek 3 – North Alps traverse (open for experienced, self-sufficient campers only. Huts en route have limited capacity and many are already fully-booked).

Stage 1

Goshiki-ga-hara sansō hut will open for business on July 18th with a capacity of just 40 guests per night. Advanced bookings are required, and currently the hut is completely booked for the remainder of July and most of August. Campers are advised to time their treks so they avoid camping during the weekend, as the campsite is expected to be unusually crowded. Advanced bookings for campers are not required, but early arrival is essential to secure a favorable tent location.

Stage 2

Sugo-no-koshi-goya hut is open for business but advanced booking is required. Campers do not require a booking but are advised to show up early to claim a site, as capacity is limited. Yakushi-dake sansō hut is accepting guests with advanced booking only. Yakushi-tōge campground is also open, but is expected to be unusually crowded this summer. Campers are advised to show up early to secure a favorable tent location. Tarōdaira-goya hut is open for with reduced capacity for those with advanced bookings.

Stage 3/4

Both Kurobegorō-goya and Sugoroku-goya (and the campgrounds) are planning to open on July 20th. Advanced bookings are required at both huts and campsites are expected to fill up quickly, so plan on arriving early in the day to secure an ideal tent site.

Yari-ga-take sansō hut is currently open for those with an advanced booking, but a mask is required. In addition, guests are encouraged to bring their own alcohol disinfectant and a thermometer and to check their temperatures daily.

Stage 5

The route to Kamikōchi is currently open to hikers, but hikers should be aware of the recent earthquake swarm affecting the Kamikōchi area. If a quake should occur during your descent, be on the lookout for rockfall and try to protect yourself. In addition, the recent heavy rains have caused landslides and road closures, so hikers should inquire with the hut staff prior to setting out on Stage 5about the current state of public transport access at the end of the trek in Kamikōchi.

Walk 4 – Mt Yake-dake (open, but recent earthquake swarm makes climbing dangerous)

Yake-dake-goya hut is now open, but advanced booking is required. While Yake-dake can be done as a day hike from Kamikōchi, hikers should be aware of the recent earthquake swarm near the mountain and perhaps hold off on climbing for the time being (it is an active volcano after all)

Walk 5 – Mt Nishihō-Doppyō (Closed – ropeway is currently undergoing maintenance)

Trek 4 – Mt Oku-Hotaka-dake and Karasawa Ciruqe (Closed – Dakesawa route closed due to earthquakes/rockfall, Karasawa route closed due to flooding/landslides)

Due to the recent earthquake swarm, Dakesawa-goya is currently closed but is scheduled to open on July 22nd. The Dakesawa route has been damaged due to rockfall and landslides, and hut staff currently recommend not using the route at this this time.

Hotaka-dake-sansō is currently closed due to heavy rain and trail damage (July 15). Hut staff hope to have the trail repaired in time for the public holiday on July 23rd, but it will depend on the weather conditions over the coming week.

Both Karasawa Hut and Karasawa-goya hut were scheduled to open on July 15 but this has been delayed due to trail damage from heavy rains and landslides.

Trek 5 – Mt Yari-ga-take (Open, but recent earthquake swarm and heavy rains make the route dangerous. Route in Stage 2 between Yaridaira and Shin-Hotaka is currently closed due to flooding/landslides)

Yari-ga-take sansō hut is currently open for those with an advanced booking, but a mask is required. In addition, guests are encouraged to bring their own alcohol disinfectant and a thermometer and to check their temperatures daily. Camping does not require an advanced booking but space is limited and will be on a first-come-first-served basis. The campground is incredibly exposed to the wind and elements, so make sure you have a tent strong enough to cope.

Yaridaira-goya will be closed for the remainder of 2020 but campers are welcome to pitch their tent next to the hut. The route between Yaridaira and Shin-Hotaka is currently closed due to flooding/landslides.

Trek 6 – Mt Chō-ga-take and Mt Jōnen-dake (Open, but recent earthquake swarm and heavy rains make the route dangerous.)

Chō-ga-take Hut will open for guests on August 3rd. Space is limited to parties less than 6 people and advanced booking is required. Campers do not need a reservation but are advised to show up early as space is limited. The route between Tokusawa Lodge and Nagakabe-yama has been partially damaged due to earthquakes and landslides. Caution is advised.

Trek 7 – Mt Kasa-ga-take (Closed due to earthquake swarm and trail damage)

Kasa-ga-take sansō hut will be closed for the duration of 2020.

Walk 6 – Mt Norikura-dake (Closed due to road damage. Shuttle bus to Tatamidaira is currently not running)

Due to heavy rains and landslides, access to Mt Norikura-dake is not possible at this time. The shuttle bus is currently out of service and resumption of service is undecided at this time.

Chūō Alps

Walk 7 – Mt Kiso-koma-ga-take (open – COVID-19 countermeasures in effect)

The Komagatake ropeway has resumed service after being suspended for heavy rainfall and road damage. Senjōjiki Hotel is accepting overnight guests with virus prevention measures, including the requirement of a face mask. Once service resumes, the mountain huts will commence operation. Komagatake-chōjō sansō is open for accommodation, and the adjacent campsite is also accepting tents (1000 yen/night). Space in limited in both the hut and the campsite so please make an advanced booking with the hut directly. Hoken-dake sansō and Tengu-sō huts are also open for business with decreased capacity. However, chōjō-Kiso-goya hut will be closed for the duration of 2020.

Trek 8 – Central Alps traverse (Closed due to trail damage between Utsugi-dake and Komagane Kōgen)

Minami Alps

Walk 8 – Mt Kai-koma-ga-take (Closed due to lack of access to Kitazawa tōge. Ascent possible via Kuroto-One but only for experts)

All huts on the mountain will be closed for the duration of 2020 with the exception of Shichijō-goya, which has limited capacity. Advanced booking is required for both campers and hut guests.

Walk 9 – Mt Senjō-ga-take (Closed due to lack of access to Kitazawa tōge. All mountain huts are closed

Trek 9 – Mt Kita-dake (Closed as a COVID-19 countermeasure. No bus service and all huts are closed)

Trek 10 – Mt Hō-ō (Open but no bus service to Yashajin-tōge or Hirogawara. All huts and campsites require advanced booking)

Both Minami-omuro-goya and Yakushi-dake-goya are open for business, but space is extremely limited and advanced booking is required. The campground at Minami-omuro-goya also required advanced booking. Hō-ō goya is open for guests with advanced bookings (limited capacity), but the campground is closed. Hirogawara is currently closed (no bus access from there), so the descent from Hakuhō pass to Hirogawara is not recommended as it’s a dead-end and you’d have to climb all the way back up the mountain due to the lack of bus and taxi service (you’re not allowed to walk on the road between Hirogawara and Yashijin-tōge)

Trek 11 – Mt Arakawa-Higashidake and Mt Akaishi-dake (Closed – no access to trailhead and all huts closed)

Trek 12 – Mt Kamikōchi-dake and Mt Hijiri-dake (Closed – no access to trailhead and all huts closed)

Trek 13 – South Alps traverse (Closed – no access to trailhead and all huts closed)

Mt Fuji

All routes on Mt Fuji are closed for the duration of the summer climbing season. All of the huts are closed, and barricades have been installed at all trailhead entrances. In addition, all of the roads to the trailheads have been closed, so there is no bus, taxi, or private car access. Mt Fuji is best admired from afar this year.

Walk 10 – Yoshida Route (Closed)

Walk 11 – Subashiri Route (Closed)

Walk 12 – Gotemba Route (Closed)

Walk 13 – Fujinomiya Route (Closed)

Walk 14 – Mt Kuro-dake (Open, but bus service has been suspended)

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