Hiking –  The benefits of shinrinyoku (森林浴) have been known for a long time now and there is no doubt that being outdoors often alone on a mountain trail is good for your health. Road cycling, bike packing, and mountain biking are all great alternatives but it’s hard to beat the simplicity and laid back approach to a hike.

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Hot air balloon over Yatsugatake.
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Mt. Fuji.

A few years ago I did this bike packing trip to Hafudake, on the border between Nagano and Gunma prefectures. While I camped out overnight in the freezing cold (without a tent, bivy and only a light sleeping bag, which looking back now seems ridiculous), I awoke to stunning views of the northern side of the Takamine mountain range (高峰高原) and managed to take some of my favourite landscape photos in years with a small Lumix TZ-60.

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Mt. Asama.
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Hikers on Mt. Asama
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Kurofuyama.
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Mountain in the distance.
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Most major trails have maps at the trail entrance.
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Snow hike.

A week or so ago I decided to head back up there and this time do a snow hike on the southern slopes from Kurofuyama (黒斑山)  in Komoro city (小諸市). Komoro is located in an ideal location as it sits north of the Yatsugatake mountain range (八ヶ岳), east of the Japan Kita Alps, and right at the base of Takamine Heights and Mt. Asama (浅間山). On clear days there are views of Mt. Fuji too.

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Mt. Asama from Komoro.

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