National Parks of Japan

Brief Overview of National Parks in Japan

The First National Parks Were Established in 1931
National Parks in Japan are places of scenic beauty designated for protection and sustainable usage by the Minister of the Environment under the Natural Parks Law (1957). National Parks are designated and in principle managed by the Ministry of the Environment of Japan. The first national parks in Japan were established in 1931. They included the coastal areas around the Setonaikai and the mountainous areas of Kirishima and Unzen Amakusa. Today, total of 33 National parks have been designated with the aim of preserving the finest natural spectacles in the country for the benefit and enjoyment of the next generation and beyond.

5.6% of Japanese Land is in the National Parks
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. They cover a total of approximately 2.11 million hectares of land and account for approximately 5.6% of the total land area of Japan.

Unique System Adopted to the Japan’s National Parks
In Japan, a small and densely populated land that has been managed and used for a broad array of different uses since ancient times, the land comprising National Parks cannot be exclusively allocated as government-owned park land as in such countries as the United States and Australia. For this reason, Natural Parks of Japan has adopted the system that the authority can designate Natural Parks without obtaining the land within the boundaries and impose certain regulations to achieve the purpose of park, with the result that National Parks in this country encompass privately owned areas to a large extent. Since many people also live inside National Parks and because such industries as agriculture and forestry are also conducted in these areas, National Parks are administered alongside efforts made to accommodate the lives, industries, and other concerns of inhabitants.

33 National Parks in Japan
(From North to South)

List of National Parks in Japan

Hokkaido region

Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park Page 1
Shiretoko National Park Page 1
Akan National Park Page 1
Kushiroshitsugen National Park Page 2
Daisetsuzan National Park Page 2
Shikotsu-Toya National Park Page 2

Tohoku Region

Towada-Hachimantai National Park Page 2
Sanriku Fukko (reconstruction) National Park Page 3
Bandai-Asahi National Park Page 3

Kanto Region

Nikko National Park Page 3
Oze National Park Page 3
Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park Page 4
Ogasawara National Park Page 4
Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park Page 4
Minami Alps National Park Page 4

Chubu Region

Joshin'etsukogen National Park Page 5
Chubusangaku National Park Page 5
Myoko-Togakushi renzan National Park Page 5
Hakusan National Park Page 5
Ise-Shima National Park Page 6

Kinki Region

Yoshino-Kumano National Park Page 6
San'inkaigan National Park Page 6

Chugoku-Shikoku Region

Setonaikai National Park Page 6
Daisen-Oki National Park Page 7
Ashizuri-Uwakai National Park Page 7

Kyushu-Okinawa Region

Saikai National Park Page 7
Unzen-Amakusa National Park Page 7
Aso-Kuju National Park Page 8
Kirishima-Kinkowan National Park Page 8
Yakushima National Park Page 8
Yambaru National Park Page 8
Keramashoto National Park Page 9
Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park Page 9

Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park

Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park is a national park on the Rishiri Island, Rebun Island, and a coastal area from Wakkanai to Horonobe at the north-western tip of Hokkaido, Japan. Areas of the park cover 212.22 square km. The park is noted for its alpine flora and views of volcanic mountains and areas formed by marine erosion. The park is surrounded by fishing grounds, and the coastal areas of the park are rich in kelp. The coastal areas of the national park can be accessed from Japan National Route 40, known as the Wakkanai National Highway, and the Rishiri and Rebun are accessible by ferry from Wakkanai.

The Sarobetsu Plain is a marshy floodplain on the Sea of Japan formed by the Teshio River and Sarobetsu River. The plain is approximately 17 km long and covers approximately 150 square km. The Sarobetsu Plain has a subarctic climate and consists of large peat bogs. The Sarobetsu Plain was added to the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance in 2005 as part of the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the conservation of wetlands. Rishiri is a round island with the 1721 meters tall Mount Rishiri at its center. Due to its appearance, the dormant volcano is also known as Rishiri-Fuji. Rebun is longer and flatter than Rishiri and most famous for its wealth of alpine flowers found at sea level due to the harsh climate.

Shiretoko National Park

Shiretoko National Park covers most of the Shiretoko Peninsula at the northeastern tip of Hokkaido, Japan. The word "Shiretoko" is derived from an Ainu word "sir etok", meaning "the place where the earth protrudes". One of the most remote regions in all of Japan, much of the peninsula is only accessible on foot or by boat, and this makes the park as one of Japan's most beautiful and unspoiled national parks. The park is best known as the home of Japan's largest brown bear population. The park has a hot springs waterfall called Kamuiwakka Falls. Kamui wakka means "water of the gods" in Ainu language.

The forests of the park are temperate and subalpine mixed forests; the main tree species include Sakhalin fir (Abies sachalinensis), Erman's birch (Betula ermanii) and Mongolian oak (Quercus mongolica). Beyond the forest limit there are impenetrable Siberian Dwarf Pine (Pinus pumila) thickets. In winter, the peninsula's coast along the Sea of Okhotsk becomes one of the northern hemisphere's southernmost regions to see drift ice. In 2005, UNESCO designated the area a World Heritage Site, advising to develop the property jointly with Kuril Islands of Russia as a transboundary "World Heritage Peace Park".

Akan National Park

Akan National Park is located on the island of Hokkaido, Japan. Akan is an area of volcanic craters and forests, covering 90,481 hectares (904.81 square km). Along with Daisetsuzan National Park, these are the two oldest national parks in Hokkaido. The park was established December 4, 1934. The park is well known for its three beautiful lakes: Lake Akan, Lake Mashu and Lake Kussharo. Lake Mashu is of particular fame. Although often covered by fog, its waters are some of the clearest in the world with visibility up to 40 meters. The park is also famous for its hot springs and its large marimo. It is the only place where marimo of appreciable size form naturally in Japan.

The park can be divided into two general areas, Kawayu and Akan. The larger, eastern part called “Kawayu” contains Lake Mashu, Lake Kussharo, Iozan (Sulfur Mountain) and centrally located Kawayu Onsen. The smaller, western part called “Akan” contains Lake Akan with the lakeside hot spring resort of Akankohan Onsen. These lakes in the park often considered as Japan’s most beautiful lakes.

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See Also
Encyclopedia of Japan