A Hiker Ended Up Mapping Out Every Bus Route, Hot Spring, and Inn Nearby Hiking Trails

A hiker who made a website for enthusiasts ended up mapping out almost every single bus route, hot spring, and inn in Japan when hiking!

September 3, 2021
  • Japan has one of the best public transportation networks in the world
  • Hiking is a very popular hobby in Japan and is even easier to do as the public transport network is so efficient and widespread
  • A hiker made a website to map out every bus stop and route, hot spring, and place to stay when hiking over the years for enthusiasts to use

Hiking Made Easier with Great Public Transportation

Japan is the land of efficiency and amazing public transportation.  The world-famous shinkansen or bullet trains that travel across the nation at almost 300 kilometers per hour (200 mph) connect to local train lines and bus routes.  In fact, you could even travel across the entire country only on local trains. 

Apart from the iconic Mount Fuji, people who think about Japan and even those who visit Japan often only see large cities and major tourist attractions and overlook the rest of Japan and what it has to offer.  In particular, Japan is an awesome destination for hiking, sightseeing, and exploring some of the world’s most scenic nature.  

Hiking on the Kumano Kodo Trail. Image sourced from Fodors Travel Guide.

You may be thinking, “I was only in Japan for a short period, so I didn’t have the time to go hiking or stay at a hot spring in the mountains!  Plus, I didn’t have a car!” but because of Japan’s unmatched public transportation, you can actually go hiking and take a dip in a hot spring and be back in Tokyo or any other big city the same day.

It’s true, you could actually start your day in the middle of a big city, then take a train or a bus or two to a station or stop in the mountains, and go on a hike, visit a hot spring, or both!  Hiking and mountaineering is a very popular hobby and way to stay active in Japan.  After all, roughly 73% of Japan is mountainous.

Yuru-to Is Hiking’s “One-Stop-Shop”

Now, some of you might be thinking that you don’t know where to start, but that problem has been solved as well.  A hiker who goes by the username “johndoe” from Yokohama, a large city next to Tokyo, developed a website called Yuru-to that mapped out bus routes that lead to hiking trails. At first, back in 2015, johndoe simply wanted a way to spread the word as well as keep records of his own hiking adventures and bus routes to get him there.  After 7 years, johndoe added more and more to the website that was created on a Google Maps Platform. 

Off a hiking trail in the Japan Alps. Image sourced from AllAbout-Japan.

Over the years, johndoe updated the website to show bus and railway routes to hiking trails, places to stay, hot springs, and even the weather.  Overall, Yuru-to now has over 36,000 inns, 15,000 hot springs, and sento’s which are baths that do not use natural hot spring water, 1,193 roadside stations, and 250,000 bus stops! 

He mentions that he just thought that adding places to stay and hot spring information would be useful for others who share his passion for hiking.  After all, who wouldn’t want to relax in a hot spring after hiking all day!  

As a result, johndoe has pretty much mapped out every single hiking trail, transportation route, a place to stay, and hot spring in Japan.  He claims he spent more than 5,500 hours on developing Yuru-to.  Check out his map below. 

Yuru-to Map. Image sourced from Yuru-to.

Plan Your Next Trip!

Johndoe’s website doesn’t end there.  You can also tell which hot springs allow day trips, which have natural hot spring water, open-air baths, saunas, and footbaths.  He even developed a service that makes it easier to find and book accommodation.

A close-up of a topographical Mt. Fuji on the left, with hot springs and foot baths nearby towards the lake on the right. Image sourced from Yuru-to.

He even updated the site to utilize GTFS open data, which allowed him to update all public transportation timetables and routes as he noticed that some of the bus routes were outdated. 

An open-air hot spring in Yufuin. Image sourced from Ryoko Douki.

Now, if you book accommodation through Rakuten Travel via Yuru-to, 1% of the accommodation fee goes to johndoe.  So next time you want to go on a hike, be sure to check out Yuru-to!  


Kevin Murasaki

Kevin Murasaki grew up moving back and forth between Chicago and Yokohama, Japan. Known as a "hafu", Kevin is half Japanese, and half American. Now a videographer and drone operator based in Fukuoka, Japan, Kevin enjoys playing basketball, driving on mountain or "touge" roads, and fishing in his free time. Kevin is a recent graduate of the University of British Columbia.

More articles by Kevin Murasaki

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