This week we are pleased to present a guest post by Joe Baur, a travel author and podcaster who’s constantly looking to get off the tourist trek in search of new stories. He enjoys few things more than a hoppy beer and chorizo in good company. Give him these things and he will be your friend for life. Visit his website to get to know Joe better.
I’m on day four or five of my hike along the historic Nakasendo Way with Walk Japan when we take a bit of a detour off the main trail and get dropped off by shuttle at Karasawa Falls. The thundering waterfall is as picturesque as any I’d seen before, surrounded in a valley of dense forest.
The fall season came late to Japan — concerning to climate scientists, but selfishly idyllic for those of us in hiking boots. The array of browns, oranges, and reds sneaking through the dense fog were as stunning as I had come to expect from the Japanese countryside. I could sense my lungs thanking me for the literal breath of cool, fresh air.
Had I been two weeks later, I might have been bent over to warm my hands against my body and missing the sights. Two months earlier and I’d have been sprawled out on the ground, sweating through my clothes in exhaustion.
Of course this is just one side of Japan. There’s the chaotic side borne out of Tokyo’s technocratic utopia where millions of people trek through the city like lemmings, eyes glued firmly to their mobile devices, when their attention isn’t grabbed by the absurd number of flashing lights shooting out of establishments ranging from hotels and restaurants to pachinko parlors and robot cabaret shows. It all depends on what part of town you’re in.
What you pack for Japan depends entirely on which Japan you’re going to see. Then, you need to consider the season you’re traveling in since the land of the rising sun, indeed, sees winter, spring, summer, and fall. Here are the essentials broken down by urban and rural Japan packing list.
Japan is a pedestrian country, first and foremost. People here walk. They walk to the store, walk to the train, walk to their bikes, and they walk for sport. Japan’s infrastructure is arguably the best equipped in the world for pedestrians, so that means you need to prepare your feet with some comfortable walking shoes. Whether it’s on a hiking trail or over urban sidewalks, your feet are going to be racking up the kilometers unlike any other destination on the planet.
A pair of Chacos’ Outcross 2 hiking shoes were a perfect match for Japan. They’re easy to jam into your luggage and are much more forgiving to bag space than heavy-duty hiking boots, which are more than likely unnecessary unless you’re Bear Grylls-ing it. Click to continue…