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Before the Hike: Trip Plan and Travel Accident Insurance

Once you have a hike in Japan planned, there are some things you need to do before you start. Here we discuss submitting a trip plan that's required when hiking in the mountains, as well as the travel accident insurance you should sign up for in case of emergency.

Creating and submitting a trip plan

Trip plans are essential for search and rescue operations in the event of an emergency. Be sure to make one and submit it to the relevant Prefectural Police Station for the mountain you'll be hiking. If your route is on a prefectural border or passes through multiple prefectures, you need to submit the trip plan to the Prefectural Police Stations of each prefecture. In some areas submission is required by law and failing to do so may result in a fine.

Although there is no fixed format for trip plans, it is recommended to include your personal information such as your name and contact information, as well as your hiking schedule with place and time of departure, route, destination, and your scheduled return time. It’s also good idea to include information about your equipment and how many days’ worth of food you’ll be carrying. If you’re hiking with others, it’s recommended to include their details as well.

Check the weather and geographical features of the mountains you plan to hike, and bring equipment appropriate to the trails and the season. Share your trip plan with all the members of your party, confirm the details of your plan in advance, and have them give it to their families and acquaintances.

There are several ways to submit a trip plan to the police.

Compass This website lets you create and submit trip plans online (an app is also available). English, Korean, and Simplified and traditional Chinese are supported, as well as Japanese. The advantage of using Compass is that you can create a trip plan, share it with fellow hikers and family members, and submit it to multiple Prefectural Police Stations, all from a single platform. However, some prefectures are not supported. Please check the list of accessible police stations and municipalities before using the platform.

Compass : https://www.mt-compass.com/
E-mail, Fax How and where to submit trip plans varies between municipalities and police stations. Check on the relevant municipality websites or contact their offices for more information.
Trip Plan Post Box Many major trailheads have dedicated trip plan post boxes. You can submit a paper version of your trip plan there. However, if your hike starts and finishes in different prefectures, you won't be able to submit it at the end point. Also, it means the authorities have to collect the trip plans from the trailhead and check the contents one by one, potentially slowing down any search and rescue operation that might occur. Whenever possible, we recommend submitting your trip plan through Compass or via e-mail before departure.

Be sure to carry a printed copy of your trip plan while hiking so that you can find details like emergency contact information should something go wrong.

■ Confirming where to submit your trip plan

Visitors from abroad may not know which prefecture the mountain they plan to hike is in. One way to confirm this is to search on Wikipedia. For example, the "Mount Yari" entry says that it's "on the border of Nagano Prefecture and Gifu Prefecture." This means you should submit your trip plan to Nagano and Gifu prefectures.

Enrolling in travel accident insurance

Please purchase insurance before leaving home and be sure it covers emergency search and rescue in mountainous areas in case something goes wrong. Rescue operations in Japan's mountains may be conducted by the police, rescue workers from private companies, or a combination of these. If a private company conducts the rescue operation, you will be charged about 50,000 yen per day per worker.

If you arrive in Japan uninsured, or if your insurance policy does not cover search and rescue costs, you can purchase insurance in Japan before you go hiking. For example, Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance's TOKIO OMOTENASHI POLICY lets visitors sign up within 5 days of arrival in Japan, including the date of entry. Search and rescue expenses are covered in addition to medical expenses. Support is available in English, Chinese, and Korean.

Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance's TOKIO OMOTENASHI POLICY : https://www.manolin.jp/theme223.html

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