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Monday, July 04, 2005

Hiking in Japan

Hiking in Japan
by Paul Hunt
Hiking in Japan

Kodansha International

ISBN: 4-7700-1393-0
205 pp
More than 60 percent of the land area of Japan is composed of forest-covered
mountains, which gives ample opportunities to escape from the noisy,
crowded cities and find some peace and tranquility, and also in
the heat of the summer to retreat to higher, cooler altitudes. Hiking In Japan covers 33 mountain hikes all over Japan from Kyushu
to Hokkaido, though most are in the central Honshu area which makes
them easily accessible to residents of the major cities. The hikes
range in difficulty from those suitable for children up to those
suitable for fit, experienced hikers, but most hikes can be adapted
to suit individual abilities. Each hike is described and includes
information on how to get there, budget accommodation in the area,
a small map, and full details on what to expect on the hike: scenery,
wildlife, plant life, geology, as well as sites of historical and
cultural interest such as shrines and temples, and local legends.
However it is recommended to purchase suitable maps of the area
as the ones included in the book are simple and small-scale. As
would be expected of any guidebook of this nature, there is plenty
of background information; transportion within Japan, where to purchase maps and hiking and camping supplies, food and accommodation, and
a small glossary of Japanese language that would be useful while
hiking. Reflecting the author's background in geography, the sections
on Japan's natural environment are excellent, with 2 sections in
particular standing out; the introduction to Japan's geology is
as good as I have ever read, and in the section on weather he comes
to the remarkable conclusion that Japan does not have 4 seasons,
but 6! A fact likely to disturb those Japanese who believe Japan's
4 seasons are unique. Even if you don't plan on doing any hiking
yourself, this book offers mountains of useful and interesting information.
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