Hiking is a popular activity in Japan, a mostly mountainous country where there is not much flat land. Throughout history, the Japanese have been extremely skilled at utilizing almost all of the land that has been at their disposal. Mountains seem to be ingrained in the Japanese culture; the rite-of-passage climb of Mount Fuji, Japan’s tallest mountain, is undertaken by thousands of Japanese people every year.
Unfortunately, Mount Fuji is open to climb for only three months of the year, and not all people are physically capable of hiking the mountain (though truthfully, many elderly folk manage to successfully climb it). Not to worry, because as Japan is mostly mountainous, there are plenty of easier and shorter hiking routes to take.
In my most recent visit to Kamakura, an hour southwest of Tokyo, I undertook the incredibly fun and rewarding Gionyama Hiking Course, an official course set up by the city government. It is a fairly easy route, and we saw climbers of all ages, from children to the elderly. It can be slippery and a little steep at times, so be careful and take it easy. Additionally, the trail lacks guardrails in spots and has some steep drops.
To get to Gionyama Hiking Course, exit from the east side of JR Kamakura Station and continue heading east for about ten to fifteen minutes. The map below shows our starting point and general hiking direction.
When you see this map, you have arrived at the beginning of the course. Good luck!
A shrine dedicated to a shogun leader from centuries ago. This is said to be the place where he committed seppuku (ritual suicide).
One of the things I love about Japan is that no matter where you go, there always seems to be something of historical significance.
Be careful! It is a steep drop, and this is the closest thing to a guardrail you will find along the hiking trail.
The hiking trail finishes at Yagumo Shrine, but first we will check out the scenic point to try to get a look at Mount Fuji!
It is always nice to get out of the city and breathe in the beautiful, clean Kamakura air.
Continue to follow the signs which are frequently posted along the hiking course.
Nothing but nature!
You will soon come to a fork in the path, so head left to get to the scenic point.
No Fuji view today! However, we were able to spot Enoshima in the distance.
Head back to the fork in the path and take a left. Follow the trail for a little while longer, and you will soon arrive at the end of the hiking course.
The hiking course ends at Yagumo Jinja (Yagumo Shrine), which was a pleasant surprise for me as I love taking photos of shrines and temples in Japan.
The Gionyama Hiking Course is fairly easy; it is only around 1.5 kilometers and should take around an hour to complete. The trail also goes through Myohonji Temple, and you can read about my visit to the temple here. For the best chance at spotting Mount Fuji, try to visit on a clear day with low humidity. Enjoy the hike!
For more information on the hiking course, visit Kamakura City’s official website here (Japanese only).[cft format=0]