Climbing Mount Fuji: Okay, so climbing Japan's tallest -- 3,766m-high (12,355 ft.) -- and most famous mountain is not the solitary, athletic pursuit you may have envisioned -- but with 400,000 people climbing it annually, it's a great, culturally enriching group activity. Many opt to climb through the night with a flashlight and then cheer the sunrise from the top of the mountain.
Hiking the Old Nakasendo Highway: Back in the days of the shogun, feudal lords were required to return to Edo (now Tokyo) every other year, traveling designated highways. Nakasendo was one of these highways, and an 8km (5-mile) stretch through a valley still exists between the old post towns of Magome and Tsumago. It's a beautiful walk, and the towns are historic relics.
Skiing in Honshu & Hokkaido: Host of two winter Olympics (in Sapporo in 1972 and Nagano in 1998) and riddled with mountain chains, Japan is a great destination for skiing, the most popular winter sport in the country, and for snowboarding. The Japan Alps in Central Honshu and the mountains of Tohoku and Hokkaido are popular destinations.
Cycling: Hard to believe, but you can bike between Shikoku island and Hiroshima Prefecture via the 70km (43-mile) Shimanami Kaido route, which actually comprises seven bridges and six islands in the Seto Inland Sea and follows a well-maintained, dedicated biking path.Another favorite: Cycling through the historic, rural Kibiji District in Okayama Prefecture on a path that takes you past paddies, ancient burial grounds, temples, and shrines.
Shooting the Kumagawa Rapids: You can glide down one of Japan's most rapid rivers in a long, traditional wooden boat, powered by men with poles.
Fishing: Most foreigners laugh when they see Japanese fishing spots -- a stocked pool in the middle of Tokyo or a cement-banked river, lined elbow to elbow with fishermen. For more sporting conditions, head to Lake Akan in Hokkaido's Akan National Park, where you can fish for rainbow trout or white spotted char.
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling: Okinawa, an archipelago of 160 subtropical islands, is blessed with coral reefs, schools of manta rays, and operators offering excursions for all levels, not to mention some of the best dive spots in the world. Favorites include the Kerama Islands and Iriomote.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.