Outdoor Activity In Japan – I ate my way through Japan. I made cute bento boxes and ate all the kawaii, Instagrammable food in Tokyo – especially the sweet ones. Then I ate wasabi ice cream in Shizuka, soy ice cream in Ibaraki, and tried octopus with quail egg in Kyoto (and I didn’t hate it). While my stretchy pants were doing a good job, I decided it was time to put them to their intended use. And just like that, an adventure vacation has been booked in Gunma province. The wonderful tourist offices of Gunma District and Katashina Village hosted me for a few wonderful days to explore the wonderful district from land, water and sky.
The village of Katashina is about 2/3 from the center of Tokyo, but only 4,000 people live there. There are lots of fun outdoor activities to try in the village which is 92% forest! Here is a list of the best outdoor activities in the village of Katashina, a short hour by Shinkansen from Tokyo.
Outdoor Activity In Japan
The village of Katashina has one of the best flours in Japan. During the winter, there is nearly two meters of snow on the ground and hikers flock here on skis and snowboards. There are five ski resorts in Katashina Village offering excellent ski and snowboard rentals. I thought the lack of snow on the ground would cause me to miss one of the most popular activities in the area. Boy, I was wrong…
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At Marunuma Kogen Resort, you can strap on skis or snowboards and climb to the top of the summer slopes. This beginner’s slope reaches a maximum angle of 15° over a course of 1,300 feet. Glide across the grass on a special self-watering mat that makes you feel like you’re skiing on ice.
You haven’t skied in years before trying the summer gelding. Luckily skiing is like biking and I had a great time hitting the slopes enjoying the stunning views of the mountains all around me.
You’ve explored Marunuma Kogen on your skis on the ground – now it’s time to take off for an adventure in the trees! They offer courses for beginners and experts and I recommend starting with the beginner. Once you start the course, there is no going back, so you want to feel comfortable and confident before you start the professional course!
Climb the suspended climbing wall, glide through the sky and test your balance on the tightrope! To top it off, you’ll test your confidence in the armor system by jumping off a platform to complete the course on a zipline.
Japan Outdoor Activities
I didn’t get a chance to try out the summer look, but seeing these gravity carts got me hooked on my first ride to Queenstown, New Zealand! Reach speeds of up to 25 miles per hour as you cruise through stunning mountain scenery on the Marunuma Kogen Lugs.
Sugenuma is the clearest lake in Honchu (the main island of Japan), the fourth clearest lake in the whole country, and offers up to 50 feet of visibility. For 200 years, the lake and its surroundings have belonged to the Chigira. family, and they’ve turned it into a kind of secret oasis.
Just recently, local sports enthusiast Kensuke Numano Lake opened five mountain operations for stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking adventures on the lake. Join Patagonia Ambassador Ken or one of the crew members on a one-of-a-kind aquatic adventure. On sunny days the water is very reflective and birds see the “clouds” reflected in the water drifting skyward. And on a foggy day (like when I visited), you feel like you’re alone in the world.
The only sounds you will hear are fish jumping, birds chirping and your paddle cutting through the water. Jump across three sections of the lake to a secluded beach where hammocks relax and the swing of a rope invites you to jump into the cool water.
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I hope you are ready to snack! The Chigira family built a second home on Sugenuma Beach, and the family patriarch, as chef, dreamed of fresh seafood. Several years ago he started raising lobsters in the lake. Thanks to him, Ken is able to catch and cook lobsters during guest visits.
Did you know that two watermelons recently sold for $45,000 in Japan? The fruit is renowned for its sugar content and perfect appearance, and while a $45,000 watermelon is a bit unusual, it’s not uncommon for watermelons to sell for $200 each.
Although fruit is an integral part of gift-giving culture in Japan, I’m a “treat yourself” type girl! At Harada Farm, you can pick your own cherries, grapes, strawberries, apples and peaches, passing giant signs and learning about rural life in Gunma.
At Harada Nuen, something grows all year round. Check out their calendar here and plan your farm experience! After choosing the most beautiful fruits, go to the shop to find fresh pastries made with fruit from the farm!
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We live in a world full of people worshiping before crowded altars. Being overworked and overwhelmed is a badge of honor. What a breath of fresh air it is to wander around Kichijo-ji Temple, a Buddhist temple with over 100 species of plants. Pass through the San-Man Gate, built to divide the sacred land and the common world, to find a temple full of peace.
In the year Built in 1352, the temple manages to inspire curiosity and foster a sense of tranquility at the same time. Stroll through the gardens looking at the statues and sculptures. And stop to admire this garden, with its jagged rocks mimicking the ripples of the water. Stroll through the main house, where you can stop for a matcha and dessert, overlooking the koi pond.
Be sure to look for Himekomasu (Princess Pines) near the Kichijo-ji temple gate. The tree is 300 years old and was named a national treasure of Gunma Province in 1957.
After a full adventure trip, it’s good to take a moment to reflect and be grateful to your surroundings.
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Measuring 7 meters high and 30 meters wide, Fukiware-no-taki Falls is one of Gunma’s unique natural sights. Over 10,000 years of erosion, Fukuiware-no-Taki Waterfall has formed into a V-shape, and from the hiking trail, the waterfall appears to descend to the center of the earth. I visited in August, but was told that October and November are the last times to visit, when the autumn leaves change color.
Katashina Village is home to aching senses with amazing healing and recreational properties. I recommend staying in a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn, with an onsen. I loved my stay at Ryokan Umea for the amazing (and stunningly beautiful) food, comfy beds, and relaxation! You can read all about my experience here.
I first learned about the cultural significance of bus stations when I visited Ibaraki. Bus stations are food hubs and meeting places to catch up with friends. On our last day in Gunma, we had lunch at the Kawaba Den-N Plaza bus station. Here you can taste local dishes such as yogurt made from Kawaba cows using the water that flows from the mountains of this region and the beer brewed on site.
Take a break at Oze Katashina bus station. Here you can rest with your feet soaked in the water of Kamata Onsen Oze-no-yu. Admire the magnificent Oze Ohashi Bridge and the Ayame Daira Wetlands in the distance.
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Getting to Gunma is easy with a JR Pass (buy yours here). What are you waiting for? Book your trip to Gunma to experience all these great outdoor activities for yourself. There is something special for every season!
Note: Katashina Village and Gunma Province hosted me on this trip. As always, all opinions are my own and I never recommend anything weird!
This place looks amazing and secluded. The food is also tempting. Saved this post for future reference. Glad you shared. Have you ever experienced canyoning in nature-rich urban areas? Tokyo offers some great spots for canyoning in the mountainous Tama (多摩) region, although not many people know about it yet.
Just went to Tama and experienced the canyon for the first time. This wild outdoor activity excursion was one of the most fun experiences of my life. Traveling through the valleys was more fun and interesting than I expected. Waterfall descent, abseiling, zip line, etc.
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Located in the west of Tokyo, Tama is only about 1.5 to 2 hours by train from central Tokyo, just like Shinjuku station. Tokyo’s hidden oasis atop the Tama River in the mountainous region is full of amazing attractions.
All you need to do to join this Tokyo Tama canyoning tour is to arrive at Kori Station (古里駅). The guide will welcome you and take you on site to the office of the canyoning company Splash Tokyo.
I arrived at the office and we (the three participants