The first national parks in Japan were established in 1931 to designate and preserve places of scenic natural beauty for people to enjoy. They included the coastal areas around the Setonaikai and the mountainous areas of Kirishima and Unzen Amakusa. Today, there are over 30 national parks scattered across the country from the northern tip of Hokkaido to the southernmost islands of Okinawa.

Japan's national parks cover a wide range of environments including volcanoes, forests, marshes, beaches, coastlines and underwater marine habitats. Visitors to the parks can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, boating, fishing, snorkeling, diving and hot springs. Some parks have also established eco tourism activities such as whale and dolphin watching and guided nature hikes.


Kushiro Shitsugen National Park

The Kushiro Shitsugen National Park was created to preserve Japan's largest wetland and marsh habitat. The park is home to the only known population of endangered Japanese Cranes, which have made a dramatic recovery due to the parks conservation efforts. The cranes are a popular attraction and can be seen in winter at feeding sites and observation centers around the park.

Tohoku Region

Aomori, Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures

Sanriku Recovery National Park

Stretching along the Pacific Ocean across Aomori, Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures, the Sanriku Coast experienced the worst damage and loss of life in the 2011 tsunami. Some of the most scenic parts of the coast have been designated as Rikuchu Kaigan National Park since 1955. In 2013, the national park was expanded and renamed Sanriku Fukko National Park (Fukko means Recovery) to encourage the recovery of the region.

Kanto Region

Gunma, Fukushima, Niigata and Tochigi Prefectures

Oze National Park

Oze National Park centers around a large marshland at an altitude of 1400 meters in the border area between four different prefectures. It is known for its skunk cabbages which bloom from late spring to early summer and as a place to see early autumn colors.

Chubu Region

Ishikawa, Gifu, Fukui and Toyama Prefectures

Hakusan National Park

The centerpiece of Hakusan National Park is Mount Hakusan, the tallest mountain in western Japan and an important spiritual symbol. Although covered in snow for much of the year, the mountain becomes a popular hiking destination in the warmer months.

Kansai Region

Chugoku Region


Nagasaki, Kumamoto and Kagoshima Prefectures

Unzen Amakusa National Park

Unzen Amakusa National Park in western Kyushu was one of the first national parks to be designated in Japan. It includes Mount Unzen, an active volcano that erupted in the early 1990s with devastating effects, as well as the coastal landscapes and marine zones of the Amakusa Islands.
Kagoshima and Miyazaki Prefectures

Kirishima Kinkowan National Park

Kirishima Kinkowan National Park combines the coastal areas of southern Kagoshima with the volcanoes of Sakurajima and Kirishima. The former is one of Japan's most active volcanoes, while the latter is a great hiking and hot spring destination and plays an important role in Japanese mythology.

Yakushima National Park

Originally exploited as a lumber source, Yakushima is a heavily forested, subtropical island of the southern coast of Kagoshima Prefecture. The island is home to several endemic species such as Yakushima monkeys and deer, as well as a number of several thousand year old cedar trees. Visitors can hike through the forests and visit the ancient trees, including the 7000 year old Jomonsugi.

Okinawa & Amami

Amami Gunto National Park

Amami Gunto National Park includes areas on Amami Oshima and some nearby islands. Sometimes nicknamed as the "Galapagos of the East", the islands feature a variety of life forms only seen there. The islands are also popular for their beaches.