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.
Kerama Shotō National Park
Kerama Shotō National Park (慶良間諸島国立公園 Kerama Shotō Kokuritsu Kōen) is a national park in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan. Established in 2014, it is located in and around the Kerama Islands. The park comprises a land area of 3,520 ha (8,700 acres) in the municipalities of Tokashiki and Zamami together with 90,475 ha (223,570 acres) of the surrounding waters.
Shiretoko National Park
Shiretoko National Park (知床国立公園 Shiretoko Kokuritsu Kōen) covers most of the Shiretoko Peninsula at the northeastern tip of the island of Hokkaidō, 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 Japan, much of the peninsula is only accessible on foot or by boat. Shiretoko is best known as the home of Japan’s largest brown bear population and for offering views of Kunashiri Island, ownership of which Japan and Russia dispute. The park has a hot springs waterfall called Kamuiwakka Falls (カムイワッカの滝 Kamuiwakka-no-taki). Kamui wakka means “water of the gods” in Ainu.
Akan National Park
Akan Mashu National Park (阿寒摩周国立公園 Akan Mashu Kokuritsu Kōen) is a national park located on the island of Hokkaidō, Japan. Along with Daisetsuzan National Park, these are the two oldest national parks in Hokkaidō. The park was established December 4, 1934.
Akan is an area of volcanic craters and forests, covering 90,481 hectares (904.81 km2). The park is famous for its crystal clear lakes, its hot springs, and its large marimo. It is the only place where marimo of appreciable size form naturally in Japan.
Nikko National Park
The park is considered one of the most beautiful in Japan, and is a popular tourist destination. Beyond its striking scenery, the park is noted for its historical Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, most notably the Nikkō Tōshō-gū and Rinnō-ji. They are designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site as the “Shrines and Temples of Nikkō.
Nikko had been a center of Shinto and Buddhist mountain worship for many centuries before Toshogu was built in the 1600s, and Nikko National Park continues to offer scenic, mountainous landscapes, lakes, waterfalls, hot springs, wild monkeys and hiking trails.
Yoshino-Kumano National Park
Yoshino-Kumano National Park (吉野熊野国立公園 Yoshino-Kumano Kokuritsu Kōen) is a national park comprising several non-contiguous areas of Mie, Nara, and Wakayama Prefectures, Japan. Established in 1936, the park includes Mount Yoshino, celebrated for its cherry blossoms, as well as elements of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range.
Yakushima National Park
Yakushima (屋久島) is one of the Ōsumi Islands in Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan. The island, 504.88 km2 (194.94 sq mi) in area, has a population of 13,178. Access to the island is by hydrofoil ferry (7 or 8 times a day from Kagoshima, depending on the season), slow car ferry (once or twice a day from Kagoshima), or by air to Yakushima Airport (3 to 5 times daily from Kagoshima, once daily from Fukuoka and once daily from Osaka).
Fuji Hakone Izu National Park
Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park was established on February 2, 1936 as Fuji-Hakone National Park, and is one of the first four national parks established in Japan. In 1950, the Izu islands were added to the park, and its name changed to its present designation. Due to its proximity to the Tokyo metropolis and ease of transportation, it is the most visited national park in all Japan.
Towada Hachimantai National Park
Towada-Hachimantai National Park Towada-Hachimantai Kokuritsu Kōen is a national park comprising two separate areas of Aomori, Iwate, and Akita Prefectures, Japan. The Towada-Hakkōda area encompasses Lake Towada, Mount Hakkōda, and most of the Oirase River valley.
Kirishima-Kinkowan National Park
Kirishima-Yaku National Park is a national park in Kyūshū, Japan. It is composed of two parts: Kirishima-Kagoshima Bay, an area of Kagoshima Prefecture and Miyazaki Prefecture known for its active volcanoes, volcanic lakes, and onsen; and Yakushima, an island south of Kyūshū in Kagoshima Prefecture, known for its cryptomeria or yakusugi .
Sanin Kaigan National Park
Sanin Kaigan National Park is a National Park in Tottori, Hyōgo, and Kyōto Prefectures, Japan. Established in 1963, the park runs continuously along the Sea of Japan coast from Tottori to Kyōtango. The park covers 87.83 km². Sanin Kaigan National Park is known for its numerous inlets, rock formations, islands, and caves.