Hakuba: Hike Karamatu-Dake
Get There: From Happo Bus Terminal, walk to the base of the Adam Gondola. A round trip on the Alpine Line is 2900 yen for adults, or a little extra if you want to nab an onsen pass to use in town later (worth it).
There’s nothing more wholesome than scaling a snow-peaked mountain covered in alpine wildflowers. Though in winter you can ski and board down Karamatsu-Dake, in the warmer months, it’s a spectacular place to hike.
The walk officially begins a fair way up the mountain, which you reach by way of gondola and chair, and like everywhere else in Japan, is dotted with snack, souvenir and toilet shops. The best part is that the lifts are actually lowered for the green season, meaning your feet literally skim through fields of lilies on your way up.
Just over an hour into the walk, you will happen upon a rather stunning pond called Happo-ike, which is the perfect place to stop for lunch (and a wee). If you’re the conquering type, you can continue on until you reach the 2696-metre peak which, from the top of the third lift, is 10.5km one way. The path is clearly marked, with occasional staircases, but it’s rocky and steep in places and surprisingly not that well maintained, so watch your feet.
During the height of summer, the mountain tends to be swarming with elderly Japanese tourists who don’t exactly set the most cracking pace, but even when it’s busy the hike is worthwhile. Take a hat if it’s a sunny day, as there’s no shade at all and it can get pretty sweaty.