HomeStoriesRecommendationsMinami Alps and Tenryu National Park

Minami Alps and Tenryu National Park


Located in the Central & Southern areas of Shizuoka, these two mountainous National Parks offer nature and biodiversity.


Mountain Hiking, Onsen, Steam Trains, and the Bridge of Dreams

The Southern Japanese Alps, or Minami Alps National Park, is a vast mountain range that spans across the prefectures of Nagano, Yamanashi and Shizuoka.

Designated as a UNESCO Eco Park in 2014, the Minami Alps is a pristine alpine environment with great biodiversity and cultural heritage.

There are 13 alpine peaks over 3,000 meters in altitude. 10 of Japan’s 100 most famous mountains are found throughout the park, making it a haven for alpine hiking and climbing.

Hike on mountain ranges above 3000m.
Hike on mountain ranges above 3000m.

The most southern end of the alps reaches Shizuoka, where the Oi River begins its journey and is flanked by rugged mountains and ridgelines, including the Arakawa Three Mountains, Mt. Akaishi and Mt. Tekari – Japan’s southernmost peak over 2,500-meters high.

These peaks offer amazing panoramas looking back at Mt. Fuji, especially at dawn or dusk if you are planning to overnight in one of the mountain huts.

Mt. Fuji seen from the summit of Mt. Semmaidake
Mt. Fuji seen from the summit of Mt. Semmaidake

The park is a hiking paradise during the Summer and Autumn months with options ranging from short day walks and overnight stays at local onsen inns, through to multi-day treks along the network of trails and mountain huts that connect the alpine peaks.

Detailed information in English on hiking these trails can be limited, but a good resource is the YAMAP app, a handy tool to have on your smartphone that has an English interface with detailed maps, user-generated routes, and GPS functions to find trailhead locations anywhere in Japan.

Follow the Oi River upwards, and there are some lovely day hikes, onsens and farm stays around the Kawane area. Getting there is half the fun with a nostalgic steam train journey on Oigawa Railway deep into the mountains. Enjoy the view of the vast green tea fields along the river and take a slow trip through the countryside. Engaging conductors will show you the sights from the train window – You may also be entertained with a tune on their harmonica!

Apt Train on Oiwaga Railway
Apt Train on Oiwaga Railway

From the terminus in Senzu, you can take the ‘Apt System’ mountain train further into the Oku-Oi river region. Sumatakyo Onsen and the Bridge of Dreams are also worth a trip.

Here are 6 ways to explore the Minami Alps.


Mighty Rivers, Slow Trains, Idyllic Countryside and Hunters’ Life

Nearby Tenryu-Okumikawa Quasi-National Park sits on the western border of Shizuoka and is managed by the local municipalities, hence its ‘Quasi’ status.

The centrepiece of this park is the mighty Tenryu River that flows down from neighbouring Nagano prefecture. This part of Shizuoka interior is popular with hikers, cyclists, kayakers, fisherman, campers and other outdoor enthusiasts due to its abundant nature.

A popular journey to the southern Tenryu region is via the Tenryu Hamanako Railroad.

Tenhama Line Train on Tenryu Hamanako Railroad
Tenhama Line Train on Tenryu Hamanako Railroad

This rail journey runs along the north coast of Lake Hamana from Kakegawa Station to Shinjohara Station for a total of 67 km and 39 stations.

The beloved little train’s wheels began rolling in 1935 and many of the charming stations have been used in films and television shows, preserving a quintessential slice of countryside life.

Mountains in Haruno, Hamamatsu City

Further north, Haruno is an idyllic village with a rich hunting history – wild game management is important and Haruno hunters have been proactive in creating a sustainable hunting model and now many local restaurants that have deer or wild boar on the menu are becoming more ubiquitous.

A rental vehicle or camping-car is the best way to explore this almost ‘secret’ Quasi-National park in Shizuoka.

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