7 Trails Etiquette cover image

7 Trail Etiquette when hiking in Japan

There are some trail etiquette or manners that you should know before hiking in Japan. I introduce 7 manners. I guess most of these manners are not special in Japan, and we should keep them in mind whenever/wherever we hike in the mountain.

Give priority to the ascending hikers

If you hike down in a narrow trail that doesn’t have enough space to pass each other, and there is a ascending hiker, please give priority to them in principle. However, if that ascending hiker willing to let you go, you can go ahead.

In addition, if you pass each other at quite narrow place, please be stand on the mountain side (to prevent you from slipping down) and keep your backpack on the mountain side(to prevent you from pushing others). There are some accidents that is happened when someone pass another person every year.

Leave nothing

You mustn’t leave not only rubbish but also any foods, belongings and markers in order to protect nature, environment and avoid feeding wild animals.

Never bring anything back

If you found beautiful flowers, some stones especially in the summit or wild animals(including insects), you never bring them back without permission of public authority.

However, there are some exceptions.

Fish

Some mountains have the source of river, and we can enjoy stream fishing there. You can bring fished you fished back. However, you must pay for fishing permission against local operators. You can buy kind of tickets that authorize your fishing at local shops prior your fishing. You can also get tickets at the place you are fishing, the person who belongs such local operators walk along the river, and if they found guys who haven’t bought tickets, then they will collect money for that ticket.
In general, prior ticket is much cheaper than collected ticket.

In addition, You must be careful since each river has its prohibited period.

fish image

This is a fish that a fisherman gave us at Poroshiri-dake.
That was very tasty though we grilled it just with salt.

Wild vegetable (Sansai)

Some Japanese like to collect wild vegetables such as bracken, Osmunda and so on. It’s a nearly illegal but there seems to be a gray area. It’s a clearly illegal if you collect wild vegetables in the private mountain. Anyway, I’d rather not recommend it.

Respect local

Some mountains are an object of belief. If you find temples or small shrines in the mountain, please don’t touch them. Taking photo isn’t prohibited.

The shrine located at the top of Oyama (Tateyama) is one of this.

small shrine sample

This is a small shrine at the summit of Hotaka-dake.

Greet other hikers

When you met the person on the trails, Let’s say “Konnichiwa”(Hello in Japanese) or “Ohayo gozaimasu”(Good morning in Japanese). Some people might not greet you back, but please don’t mind. Most of hikers believe it polite, and will greet you back with smile.

Don’t block off the trails

When you take a rest, take pictures or see a view, please don’t block off the trails for other hikers.

If you go with your family and/or friends, you should not walk side by side on narrow trails.

Don’t be noisy

Please don’t shout or speak loudly anywhere especially in the summit or the resting place. In addition, if you would like to walk or take a rest with music, you should use earphone.

Conclusion

I introduced 7 manners that I always keep in mind when hiking.

  • Give priority to the ascending hikers
  • Leave nothing
  • Never bring anything back
  • Respect local
  • Greet other hikers
  • Don’t block off the trails
  • Don’t be noisy

Some of them are just manners but some of them are rules required by law. I’m glad if this helps you to enjoy yourself and not to prevent others from enjoying hiking!

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