Dangers on the Trail and Emergency Measures
Hiking is a lot of fun, but it can also be dangerous. There may also be dangers unique to Japan that you won't be able to anticipate from home. This section summarizes the dangers of hiking in Japan that you need to be aware of, as well as what to do in case of an emergency.
|Water in the wild||Stream and river water are not always drinkable. Also, even if locals drink the water without problems, some people from abroad may experience diarrhea or abdominal pain when consuming it due to a variety of factors including intestinal bacteria, differences in constitution, physical conditioning, etc. It's a risk that's best avoided. Impaired physical conditions while hiking may lead to an emergency. If you need to drink water obtained from untreated sources, be sure to boil it first.|
|Getting lost||Signs in Japan's mountains are often written only in Japanese, and few of the designs and icons are standardized. While rare, it's even possible you might encounter an old, broken sign pointing in the wrong direction. Getting lost accounts for about 40% of the total emergency situations in Japan's mountains. Always bring a map with you when hiking in the mountains. If you do get lost, don't keep going; return the way you came until you can be sure of your location.|
|Sudden changes in weather||Japan's mountains are subject to sudden changes in weather. Temperatures and the wind's direction and intensity can shift rapidly; in the course of 20 or 30 minutes, it can feel as if you have gone from summer to winter. Incredibly, every year some people die of hypothermia in Japan's mountains right in the middle of summer. Always be prepared. If a patrol worker, hiking guide, or hut staff member offers advice about the weather, take it. It could save your life.
* Hypothermia is a condition in which the body temperature drops so low that vital activity cannot be maintained.
|Illness||Illness accounts for about 10% of the emergency situations when hiking in the mountains. There is no relying on hospitals in the mountains if your condition worsens. If the weather is bad, a helicopter won't be able to fly you out. In such cases a rescue squad will have to carry you down the mountain. If you have a chronic illness, be sure to bring your own medicine and consider well the risks you're prepared to handle when getting ready for your hike.|
If something should happen
When deciding whether to call for rescue in case of injury or another emergency, please carry the WMAJ emergency assessment sheet into the mountains with you to help ascertain the situation. It's available in English, Chinese, and Japanese.
* WMAJ = Wilderness Medical Associates Japan
Make sure you know how to report an emergency beforehand so that you can call for help if you need it.
|Report by phone (other than IP phones)||If you can make calls, dial 110 for the police. Your current location is automatically transmitted by GPS, and they have a cooperative system with emergency services.|
|Report by IP phone||Calls to 110 cannot be made with IP phones. Find a nearby police station on Google Maps, check the phone number, and call. In this case your current location won't be transmitted by GPS. Also note that if you do not have your own phone number, you will not be able to receive calls from police.
* IP phone: a service for making calls via the internet
|Report by smartphone app||If you are using a data-only SIM card without call functionality, you can report your situation with a smartphone application. To use the application, make sure SMS (short message service) is available and the app is downloaded on your smartphone. Register as a user to get it ready to use in advance (free). Using the app, your report will automatically be connected with the prefectural police responsible for your current location, which is transmitted by GPS to the police. The app has a function called Practice Mode, so you might want to try it out.|
|Report by smartphone app||If you are using a data-only SIM card without call functionality, you can report your situation with a smartphone application. To use the application, make sure SMS (short message service) is available and the app is downloaded on your smartphone. Register as a user to get it ready to use in advance (free). Using the app, your report will automatically be connected with the prefectural police responsible for your current location, which is transmitted by GPS to the police. The app has a function called Practice Mode, so you might want to try it out.
“110番アプリ” (Dial 110 App) Languages available: English, Simplified / Traditional Chinese, Korean, Japanese
▽ Apple Store
▽ Google Play
|Report by E-mail||If you are using a data-only SIM card that does not allow you to use SMS (short message service) or make calls, you can notify the authorities by e-mail. The support offered varies depending on the prefecture, so be sure to confirm the e-mail address and support offered in advance. Please note that support by e-mail is not available with some prefectural police since this "110番アプリ” (Dial 110 App) service was launched.|
|Japan Visitor Hotline||Besides the police, you can also contact the Japan National Tourism Organization’s hotline. Don’t hesitate to use this, too.
Japan Visitor Hotline : https://www.japan.travel/en/plan/hotline/