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Japan boasts a large number of natural parks, which can be grouped into three major categories: national parks, quasi-national parks and prefectural parks. There are 29 national parks in Japan, designated by the Environment Agency as areas of outstanding beauty.
1.Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu This park consists of a marshy plain on the northern tip of Hokkaido and two islands. Rishiri Island is a round volcanic island, while Rebun Island, Japan's northernmost island, is famous for its sea kelp and wild birds. The Sarobetsu Plain is renowned for its wild flowers.
2.Shiretoko This park occupies the scenic Shiretoko Peninsula jutting off the northeast coast of Hokkaido, with the volcanic mountains of Shiretoko, Io and Rausu as its core. Caldera lakes and virgin forests are the trademarks of this park.
3.Akan This park in eastern Hokkaido is noted for its grand volcanic mountains, lakes and vast stretches of dense virgin forest. O-Akan, Me-Akan and Io are volcanic mountains noted for their puffs of volcanic ash, while caldera lakes Akan, home of a hot-spring spa, and Mashu, one of Japan's most pristine lakes, are big draws for sightseers.
4.Kushiro-Shitsugen (Marshland) Encompassing Japan's largest marshland, this park of reeds and grasslands in eastern Hokkaido is famous for its Tancho-zuru, or red-crested white cranes. In addition, some 700 plant species thrive in this protected park.
5.Daisetsuzan This is Japan's largest national park, stretching across central Hokkaido in a vast area of volcanic mountain ranges (Daisetsu, Tokachi and Shikaribetsu), virgin forests, gorges and ravines, with many hot-spring resorts sprinkled throughout.
6.Shikotsu-Toya This Hokkaido park is known for its diverse volcanoes and caldera lakes, with hot-spring spas on lakes Shikotsu and Toya acting as good bases from which to explore the park. In addition to Mt. Yotei and Mt. Tarumae, there's newcomer Mt. Showa Shinzan, which was created by an upheaval of land in 1943.
7.Towada-Hachimantai Located in Tohoku, this park centers on Lake Towada with its Oirase Stream and popular hiking trail, the Hakkoda Mountains noted for skiing, and an extensive plateau characterized by forests and hot-spring resorts.
8.Rikuchu-Kaigan (Coast) The beauty of an undulating coast with grottoes, inlets, high cliffs and stone columns facing the Pacific Ocean is the outstanding feature of this park in eastern Tohoku.
9.Bandai-Asahi This park in Tohoku can be divided into four sections: the area around Lake Inawashiro, the Bandai-Azuma Mountains, Mt. Iide, and the Asahi –Gassan mountains, sometimes called the "Tohoku Alps." Skiing and visiting hot-spring resorts, including Numajiri Spa, are highlights here.
easy sidetrip from Tokyo makes this national park a popular and convenient getaway.
Lake Chuzenji with its hot springs, many Japanese inns and Kegon Waterfalls is
a scenic attraction, as is marshy Ozegahara Plateau. But the highlight is the
sumptuous Toshogu Shrine, the final resting place of Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa, nestled
in a forest of majestic cedars.
11.Oze This park, easy accessible from Tokyo, is very popular among hiker.
Oze is set on a plateau that ranges in elevation from 1,400-1,700 meters above sea level, and is the largest high moor in Japan.
Trails of wooden walkways are laid out through the patches of bog plants to serve as hiking paths, and mountain huts are also available.
12.Jo-Shin-Etsu-Kogen (Plateau) Embracing the active volcanoes
of Asama and Shirane, as well as Mt. Tanigawa with its unique alpine shape, this
park is a skiing and hiking paradise, especially on the slopes of Shiga and Sugadaira.
Mountain climbing, camping and picnicking are other popular pursuits, as is soaking
at one of its many hot-spring resorts.
13.Chichibu-Tama-Kai This park, easily accessible from Tokyo and located beside man-made Lake Okutama, is noted for its scenery, including dramatic Shosenkyo Gorge, mountains, valleys and forests.
14.Ogasawara (Islands) The islands that comprise this national park lie 1,000-1,200 km (620-744 miles) from Tokyo in a tropical/subtropical zone. It's famous for its rugged coastal scenery, virgin forests and subtropical vegetation. Chichijima (Father Island) and Hahajima (Mother Island) attract vacationers interested in fishing and swimming.
park serves as a popular playground for Tokyoites. Impressive Mt. Fuji is an obvious
draw, both for those wishing to climb it and for those content to view it from
the park's many vantage points, including Hakone with its many hot springs, Japanese-style
inns, sightseeing attractions and Lake Ashi. Nearby Izu Peninsula is another popular
getaway, with coastal scenery and gushing hot springs.
16.Chubu-Sangaku (Japan Alps) This park, also called the Japan Alps National Park, attracts skiers, hikers and mountaineers with its 100 lofty peaks, half of which are higher than 2,440 m (8,000 feet). The chief peaks are Hotaka, Norikura, Ontake, Shirouma, Tateyama and Yari. Kamikochi is a popular summer resort and starting point for hiking trails.
17.Minami (Southern) Alps This park boasts the magnificent mountain scenery of the Akaishi Range in the southern part of the Japan Alps. Komagatake and Shirane are the chief mountains, but many other peaks soar over 3,000 m. (9,900 feet) high.
18.Hakusan Mt. Hakusan, a destination of religious climbers since feudal times, is the key player in this park, though three other peaks—Gozen, Onanji and Kengamine—are more than 2,600 m. (8,580 feet) high. Other scenic draws include primeval forests of Japanese beech trees and a large variety of alpine plants.
19.Ise-Shima The Ise Shrines, Japan's most revered Shinto shrines, are the main attractions of this peninsular park and have been attracting devotees since feudal times. Pearl cultivation takes place in Ago Bay, with demonstrations and exhibitions related to pearls taking place on Mikimoto Pearl Island. Kashikojima and Futamigaura are two huge rock formations jutting up from the sea, celebrated as a wedded pair by the Japanese, but they're only a small part of the peninsula's scenic coastline with its inlets and bays.
20.Yoshino-Kumano Ancient temples and shrines, a spectacular coastline, deep gorges and towering peaks are the trademarks of this park.
21.San-in Kaigan (Coast) This park facing the Japan Sea features a coastline etched with caves, grottos and fantastic rock formations and accented with inlets, promontories and islets, all of which form a stark constrast to the park's other attraction, the Tottori Sand Dunes.
22.Daisen-Oki Mt. Daisen and the Oki Islands with their rugged mountains form the backbone of this park and serve as a habitat for plants, rare birds and insects.
23.Seto-Naikai (Inland Sea) Japan's first national sea park, established in 1934, covers the Inland Sea between western Japan and Shikoku Island, along with sections of coastline. The sea is studded with many islands and islets, most famous of which is Miyajima Island (near Hiroshima) with its Itsukushima Shrine. The Shimanami Kaido is a series of bridges connecting Shikoku and Hiroshima Prefecture; its dedicated cycling path affords sweeping views of the Inland Sea.
24.Ashizuri-Uwakai Located at the southernmost edge of Shikoku Island, this park boasts rare seascapes, an undersea park and Cape Ashizuri with its magnificent views of granite cliffs facing the Pacific Ocean.
25.Aso-Kuju Mt. Aso, a rare, double-coned volcano, is the center attraction of this park on the island of Kyushu, with three climbing paths leading to its crater. Lots of volcanic activity account for the area's many hot springs.
park, which includes Shimabara Peninsula and the Amakusa Islands (connected to
Kyushu via bridges), is widely known as a popular spa. Though Mt. Fugen erupted
in 1991, it's still a popular recreation spot, especially at nearby Unzen Spa
with its hot springs and Japan's oldest golf course.
27.Saikai A jagged coastline, with many islands like Hirado Island and Kujukushima Island dotting the blue sea, is the highlight of this marine park on the west edge of Kyushu.
28.Kirishima-Yaku This park on the southern tip of Kyushu stretches from the volcanic Kirishima Mountain Range to Yaku Island in the south sea. Included are parts of Kinko Bay facing the active volcano Sakurajima, nicknamed the "Naples of the Orient," and scenic mountains, craters, lakes, forests and hot springs.
29.Iriomote Ishigaki Japan's southernmost national park consists of small islands in the Yaeyama Island group, located 1,200 km (744 miles) off the Kyushu coast in the East China Sea. It centers on Iriomote Island with its forests of subtropical broad-leafed trees and wildlife and offers spectacular coral reefs.