When I started my hike I packed too much food. I wanted to be prepared, and not have to make too many stops for food, as there are few convenient places to pick up food directly on the trail. So planning your food stops is important, as is bringing high calorie lightweight food. Proper planning makes this hike much easier, and knowing if there will be a convenience store the next couple miles is essential.
From America I originally brought dried fruit, nuts, power bars, pasta packs and oatmeal. I ended up sending the fruit, nuts and half the oatmeal to my friend in Nagoya. I would bring the oatmeal again, that was a great source of food and kept me going until my lunch break. I dumped all the small bags of instant oatmeal into a zip lock bag and portioned it from that. I also brought teabags with me to have caffeine in the morning. I preferred this to instant coffee because I could use one tea bag multiple times in the morning even if it didn’t taste that great by my the second or third cup.
I should have done the same with the pasta packs as I did with the oatmeal, and I would have if there had been a similar flavor! As you go I found that I was eating more and more convenience store food and there were not that many options, so I was happy to have something that was not ramen. It was the same case with the power bars I brought, I did supplement what I had with the Japanese brand called calorie mate. It was great to have something that tasted different!
I thought that I had a realistic expectation of what the Japanese country side was going to be like, I’d studied aboard in the country side of Akita, I loved taking day trips to small towns in Japan. I knew where I was going to be was not going to be like the large cities, but more like the small towns I loved traveled to and explore. On this hike you are away from everything that resembles modern Japan. Frankly I hate Tokyo. I loathe going there; I only visit to Tokyo to see the ___. When I’m in Japan I explore off the beaten path, the little towns that my students thought I was silly for going to visit. I thought I knew what I was getting into, and that I would be able to get food easily. That was not the case. I would have been able to save more money and time if I had understood how barren and isolated some of the locations were. You will walk though areas where the population is in their 80’s and still working in the fields, where the houses are mainly empty and some falling apart. In 1950, 53 percent of Japan’s population lived in urban regions; by 2014, 93 percent did.
Invest in the GPS map that shows the convenience stores. I suggest the map from Japan GPS Navigation, which is made for Garmin GPS. I plan to use in for my 2019.
I think that this is critical because even with my Phone and Google maps I had difficulty finding convenience stores that were a reasonable distance. When starting this hike, you should plan out where you can get food, and understand the areas that offer nothing for days and days. I don’t think it is particularly difficult or stressful to resupply on this trail, if you have prior information about it.
A detailed guide about the best convenience store food, and a Japanese language guide can be found in the guide book.
When hiking the trail your food options are limited, you take what you can get. My advice is if you see food or a place to resupply do it! Most places that you will find on the trail will be convenience stores, it has become more commonplace for the bigger stores to accept credit cards. I would not depend on this however as Japan is still a cash based society. Convenience Store are called Konbini in Japanese
In America there is stigma about convenience store being dirty, and not having appealing food. Japanese convenience stores are always clean, well stocked and very welcoming. The food you can buy is safe and delicious to eat, while I would not eat convenience store sushi in America I would in Japan. The majority of convenience stores have photocopying, printing, ATMs and limited Japan Post services. Seven Eleven convenience stores have free wi-fi, and you can use the ATM to pull money out with your cash cards issued overseas.
• Seven Eleven (セブンイレブン)
• Lawson (ローソン)
• Family Mart (ファミリーマート。)
• Circle K Sunkus (サークルKサンクス)
• Daily Yamazaki (デイリーヤマザキ)
• Mini Stop (ミニストップ)