Japanese Alp Route.
This guide is based on your trip starting in
Tokyo-Narita but you can start in Osaka or
This 15 day circuit passes through
Kyoto, Nikko, Nagano, Nara, Matsumoto, Mt Fuji,
Shirakawa, Takayama and more places that you may never
have heard of.
You will see amazing natural and
historical beauty on this 1,600 km adventure.
During bad weather conditions and
heavy snow some mountain pass road may be closed.
Campgrounds in mountain area are closed during winter.
Plan your journey according to season and weather report.
Start in Tomisato
near Narita airport. If arriving late at the
office you can stay at campgrounds close by or free roadside
rest area. Drive 3 hours north past Mt Tsukuba
Free camping option with hot
spring bath house at,
Utsunomiya Romantic Village
Or full featured camp site
Nikko Daiyagawa Autocamp
Tōshō-gū Shinto shrine built in 1617. Listed as one of
the National Treasures of Japan this has been a place of worship
for ruling generals of Edo (Tokyo) since its construction.
Surrounded by natural wonder Lake Chuzenjiko, Mt
Nantai, Kegon and Ryuzu Waterfalls are
all within 1 hour drive of the city.
There are plenty of
walking trails, boat and cableway rides to take it all in.
Edo Wonderland historical village is just
20 minute drive and a great place to see how people lived 400
hundred year ago in Japan. There are ninja show and other
Take national Route 122 through the mountains. This 1.5 hour
scenic drive will take you past old mining towns before entering
Gunma prefecture. ( Severe winter driving
conditions from Dec to Mar. Use alternative Touhoku
Mt Akagi caldera
Lake Onuma is 1,350 meter above sea level and a
great place for fishing and wild flower viewing in the summer or
there is a nearby ski resort in the winter. Along the way to the
top, stop at Fudo- Otaki Falls. Just 40 minute
hike from Route 16.
camping with hot spring bath house,
Roadside Rest Area
Stay at full
Mt Agaki Motor Resort
Nagano prefecture. Take the Jōshin-estu
Expressway or in good weather mountain pass route to
Jigokudani Monkey Onsen Park. It is about 3
hours drive. Hell Valley is an active volcanic area with steam
vent and natural hot spring which Japanese Macaque use to keep
warm in the winter. After a short walk along the river you can
interact with these wild monkeys. Nearby Yudanaka Onsen
town is a great place to soak in the hot water too.
Free camping at,
Full featured campground 1 hour drive from Yudanaka Onsen
( Closed in Winter ),
Jōshin-etsu Kōgen National Park covers a
huge area of 3 prefectures and the Mikuni Mountain Range
which has 2 active volcanoes. Mt Asama near
Kairuizawa and Mt Shirane,
The road to Mt Shirane is only open in
summer. There are alpine walking trails and cable way but check
volcanic activity warnings first.
During winter go to
popular ski resort including Shiga Kōgen about
30 minute drive from Yudanaka Onsen along Route 292.
Summer also popular for wild flower viewing, hiking, mountain
biking and relaxing in the many hot springs.
Mountain Farm Campground ( Closed in
Driving down the valley and around
Nagano City, 2 hours along the Nagano
Expressway is the one time political capital of Japan.
Mastumoto Castle is the oldest existing built
in 1504. Surrounded by parkland and historical buildings you
might be lucky to arrive during the summer festival.
Then traverse west along Route 158 to Hirayu Onsen
and Ski Resort. It takes about 1.5 hours to reach an
elevation of 1,250 meters. Driving up the valley past lakes and
through narrow tunnels this road is scenic and challenging and
may be closed during severe weather conditions. (Alternative
road is the Chuo Expressway to the south).
Hirayu onsen hot water is said to have ancient healing
powers and there are many different to choose from. The most
popular is Kami no Yu meaning gods water.
Nearby Norikura Kogen and mountain provide
more hot spring and amazing natural wonder. Forest hiking trails
go to Zengoro-no-taki Falls.
Free camping at Okuhira and nearby hot spring bathing,
Okuhida-Onsengo Kamitakara Roadside Station
Full featured campground. ( Closed in
Hirayu Camping Ground
Phone- 0578- 89-2610
Driving 1 hour west
along Route 158 will bring you to Takayama, Gifu.
The small city is known for its old world charm and
buildings. Local art and farm produce is displayed and sold in
summer markets on the Miya River. There are
several museum dedicated to 100’s of years of art and craft and
traditional thatch roof building construction. Join the
bi-annual Takayama Festival.
Less than 1 hour drive to the north west is
Shirakawa-go. The world heritage listed village of 60
traditional “ Gassho “ wood and thatched roof
houses that are unique in their construction of 3 to 4 levels
and have kept occupants warm even in harsh winter weather for
100’s of years.
Visitors will be lucky to join in the
Autumn village festival whilst viewing the changing forest
Free camping option with onsen bath house in the
Shirakawa-go Roadside Station
camping 45 minute drive from Shirakawa Village. ( Closed in
Katsurako Auto Camping Ground
About 30 minutes north of
Shirakawa is the village of Gokayama. Another “
Gassho“ house village surrounded by mountains and a few ski
resort during the winter.
From here you will get on the
Tokai- Hokuriku Expressway north into
Toyama prefecture and the coastline of the Sea of
1 hour later you will pass by Takaoka
City famous for its copperware, lacquer ware and historical
poetry. Neighbouring Toyama City also has a
long artesian and rich history and is former castle town with
parklands along the Matsu-kawa River. Views of
the famous 3,000 meter high Tateyama Mountain
can be seen across the bay.
Arriving in Himi on Naga-hama Beach
and Toyama Bay. Enjoy fresh seafood from the
many markets whilst taking in the vista of the mountains and
ocean. Visit Himi City Seaside Botanical Garden
for rare coastal flora or Junicho-gata Suigo-koen Park
for traditional Japanese plants and animals.
Free camping with hot spring bath house,
Banya Roadside Station
Full featured campground,
Drive west along Route
415 across the bottom of Noto Peninsular into
Ishikawa prefecture. 30 minutes later you will
arrive on Chirihama Beach. Known as the place
in Japan it is possible to drive along the sand. Popular in
summer for beach sports and seafood BBQ called “Hamayaki”.
You will find travel along the beach quicker using the
Noto Satoyama Kaido road that heads south
towards Kanazawa city. The provincial capital
is known for its traditional arts, dyed silk and pottery. The
castle city has Kenroku-en and is one of the
three most famous gardens in Japan starting in 1676.
Tera-machi area has 70 temples gathered together.
Continue south along the coast road for 1 hour to
Kaga Onsen Kyo. An area of 4 hot springs that was
discovered 1,300 years ago. In Yamashiro Hot Spring
you will find historical hotel and bathhouses.
Katayamazu Hot Spring is on the Shibayama-gata
Lagoon which changes colour seven times a day and see
views of the Haku-san Mountain Range.
Continue driving into Fukui prefecture to
the south for 40 minutes to camping areas.
Mikuni Roadside Station
Full featured campground with hot spring bath house and
Kyukamura Echizenmikuni Auto Camp
Just a few minutes drive from the
campground is O-shima Island. Just outside the
village this scenic island is accessible by foot bridge. Nearby
along Route 7, Tojinbo rock formations have
cliffs up to 55 meters high into the ocean. The rock formations
are hexagonal and only occur a few places in the world.
From here drive 100km along the rugged coast line Route 305
south though fishing cove villages and Cape Echizen.
You can see Torikuso-iwa rock that rises out of
the sea, Kochomon Cave and
Echizen-misaki Lighthouse at the top of a 132 meter
cliff has spectacular views.
After 1 hour driving south along the coast you will pass by
Tsuruga city on Tsuruga Bay. A
historical and current transportation hub for shipping and land
transport due to its strategic location on the Sea of Japan and
close to Kyoto. Check out historical buildings and seafood
Now its time to leave the coast and drive towards
Lake Biwa and into Shiga prefecture.
After driving for 30 minutes south through the mountains to the
Along the south east lakeshore are many free
camping area including roadside station with nearby hot spring
Kohoku Mizudori Station
For full feature
camping on the western lake shore,
Before leaving for Kyoto go for a stroll
along the many path along the shore of Japan’s largest lake and
see wide variety of water birds. If staying longer in warmer
months there are boat rental and swimming is popular. Fishing
for Lake Biwa famous catfish is also possible.
It is a
1.5 hour drive to Kyoto wether you choose the east or west
lakeshore route. The eastern route will have you passing by
Hikone Castle. On the shore of Lake Biwa the
city has been an important travel stop over for more than 400
Kyoto city has very narrow and crowded streets and there is
no kerbside parking. Use the Times 24h
Parking area below. It costs 200 JPY per hour or 800
JPY 24 hours and you can walk to Tobakaido Station
in just 10 minutes. From this one train line you can easily
access all of the major sites including Fushima-inari
Shrine, Kiyomizu Dera, Gion and Kyoto Imperial
Palace. There are so many places to see you can spend
all day in the city.
For more on Kyoto go to
Park in Kyoto pay parking lot
and stay overnight if desired,
Times 24 Hour
Phone- 075-671-6376( Business number for GPS
No public toilet.
Or back to Lake Biwa
for free camping 1 hour east from Kyoto. Full featured camping
Miami Hama Auto Camp
Osaka is Japan's 3rd
largest city ( Yokohama is No. 2 ). It takes about 1 hour from
Parking in the city is limited to off street paid
parking lots and streets are busy and narrow. If you want to
explore the area's such Dotonbori, Nanba, Osaka-jo
or Umeda then go to easy to access parking area
right next to Universal Studios Japan theme
park. 24 hours cost is 700- 1,000 JPY.
From just across
the road of the carpark is Sakurajima Station.
It takes 30 minutes by train to Dotonbori for famous Osaka foods
Takoyaki ( Grilled octopus dumplings ) or Okinomiyaki ( Savory
pancakes ) a favourite that the locals love.
seeing Osaka Castle. An impressive structure built in 1583 AD.
From the top there are views of most of the city which was handy
for the warlords of that era. For the those who love shopping
and entertainment stop by Umeda next to Osaka station before
heading back to the camper.
For more on Osaka go to
stay overnight in Sakurajima station pay parking lot or within
10 minutes drive is a small seaside campground ( reservations
recommended in summer ) and in the same area there is a hot
spring bath house.
Sakurajima Parking Area
Phone- 06-4804-8880 ( Business number for GPS Navigation).
Maishima Auto Camp
Nara City is
another hour from Osaka and home to Todaiji Tera.
The temple is a world heritage site and dates back to 700 AD and
inside is the world's largest bronze statue of Buddha. Outside
in the gardens are hundred of tame but free deer ( Shika ). You
can buy rice crackers and feed the deer by hand.
one hour drive is the small city of Iga, famous
for it's Ninja heritage. In late 1500 AD the Iga and
Koga district was a republic and was at war with the
Shogun ( General ). The Ninja were masters of Ninjitsu, a type
of gorilla warfare at the time. Later they become the special
forces of the Shogunate in Edo ( Old Tokyo ). See real Ninja
artefacts and way of life. There are Ninja shows and you can
even become a Ninja for a day.
For more on Nara go to
Free camping with hot spring bath house,
Full featured camp ground is just 15
minutes drive from the city,
OK Auto Campground
Get back onto the highway
and head toward Nagoya and beyond to
Shizuoka and the western side of Mt Fuji.
This is about a 4 hour drive on the Higashi Meihan
and Tomei Expressway.
Leave the Tomei Expressway and onto Route 139 which
circle Mt Fuji on the western side. About 20 minutes drive from
Fujinomiya city is the sacrad Shiraito
no Taki waterfalls and just 5 minute walk another
impressive waterfall is Otodome no Taki. A few
more kilometres away is Tanuki Lake with great
views of Mt Fuji and free parking areas along the shoreline.
Free parking option available along lakes and roadside
Asagiri Kogen Roadside Station
There are numerous full featured camping area around Mt Fuji.
This one is just 20 minutes from Shiraito Falls,
Inokashira Auto Camp
It is possible to continue around Mt Fuji through
Yamanashi prefecture and the famous Fuji 5
Lakes area. Stop by the shores of Lake
Mototsu-ko, Sai-ko and Kawakuchi-ko.
All providing amazing views of Mt Fuji. The most famous view is
at Lake Mototsu and is the same as seen on a 1000 Yen note.
Depending on the time of year it possible to drive up the
Mount Fuji Subaru Line to the 5th
Station ( Closed to private vehicles during peak
climbing season and heavy snow ). The 5th Station is 2,300
Meters high and the starting point to climbing to the peak.
Mt Fuji Panorama Line, Route 138 will
complete the circuit of Mt Fuji and back on the Tomei
Expressway. It is about 1.5 hour of scenic driving. There are
numerous campground and free or paid parking area along this
route. During summer it can be busy with sightseers and camping
area must be booked in advance.
Free camping with amazing
view of Mt Fuji and next to hot spring bath house,
Narusawa Roadside Station
Mt Fuji 5 Lakes camping area with nearby hot spring bath,
Odakyu Yamanakako Forest Cottage
Finish exploring the Mt Fuji area and head back on the motorway
towards Tokyo. If you leave early you can stop
by places such as Tokyo Tower or Odaiba
and take in the city sights before going back our office in
Narita. It is about a 3 hour drive from Mt
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