Japan Data

Hiking and Mountain-Climbing Incidents in Japan Rise to Record High in 2023

Travel Sports Guide to Japan

In 2023, there were 3,126 hiking and mountain-climbing incidents in Japan, which is the highest number ever.

There were 3,126 hiking and mountain-climbing incidents in Japan in 2023, a rise of 111 (3.7%), compared to the previous year, and 3,568 people found themselves in distress, an increase of 62 people (1.8%). Fatalities and missing people increased by 8 year-on-year to 335, while the number of people injured also rose by 94 to 1,400. Although around half of those in distress were rescued safely, another roughly 40% were rescued with injuries, and nearly 10% died or went missing.

Although decreases were seen in the number of incidents in both 2019 and 2020, the figures began rising again from 2021. In 2023, the figures reached a new high for the second consecutive year. Along with the easing in COVID-19 restrictions, the recent increased focus on outdoor activities is thought to be behind the rise in people hiking and climbing in the mountains.

Mountain-Climbing and Hiking Incidents and Injuries

By prefecture, Nagano had the most incidents with 302, followed by 214 in Tokyo, and 212 in Hokkaidō. In particular, a rise was seen in the number of people getting into distress on well-known mountains, popular as sightseeing spots, such as Mount Fuji with 97 people (a 90% increase compared to the five-year average), and Mount Takao, with 133 people (a 68% increase).

Of the 3,506 people who got into distress, 77.4% had been mountain-climbing (including hiking, ski mountaineering, and sawanobori (stream-climbing)). Another 9.4% had been foraging for wild vegetables and mushrooms.

At 33.7%, the majority of incidents were caused by people who had lost their way, followed by 17.3% who slipped down, 16.9% who fell, 9.1% who got fatigued, and 8.6% who became ill.

Causes of Climbing and Hiking Incidents (2023)

By age, 2,850 of those who got into distress were over 40 years old, accounting for 79.9% of the total, with 307 (91.6% of the total) who died or went missing. Looking just at those aged 60 and over, there were 1,763, equating to 49.4% of the total, of whom 225 (67.2% of the total) died or went missing.

Fatalities and Missing People by Age (2023)

There were also 100 cases involving international visitors to Japan, with 145 people who got into distress, of whom 11 died or went missing. Both these figures were the highest since statistics began being recorded in 2018.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)

hiking mountain accident