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In 1964 a Japanese mountaineer named Fukada Kyuya wrote a book called Nihon Hyakumeizan, which means Japan's 100 Famous Mountains. It has since become a "to hike" checklist for Japanese and foreign hikers alike. Eventually, just hiking all 100 wasn't enough. Now you need some gimmick like hiking all 100 mountains in 3 months, or being the first women solo hiker to complete the list. Since the book was release, list for Japan's 200 Famous Mountains, and Japan's 300 Famous Mountains have been created as well as lists for Yamanashi's 100 Famous Mountains, and for other prefectures too I suppose. There is a list of Japan's top three most sacred mountains, top three mountains that support year-round snow, and the lists go on and on... Below are some of the notable hikes I have done in Japan.
I used the Lonely Planet guide to Hiking in Japan at least as a starting point for many of my hikes in Japan. From there Mapple, although all in Japanese, makes a very good series of topo/trail maps which you should be able to find in most decent book stores in Japan.
Hiking in Japan Author: (multiple) Publisher: Lonely Planet First Edition Feb., 2001 ISBN 1-86450-039-5 Retail: USA $19.99
Mapple map cover
In regards to packing, no special gear is needed for the above listed hikes if you lodge at the mountain huts. I would suggest good broken in hiking boots, rain gear, map and compass, flashlight, and all the other standard hiking essencials. There is usually water at the mountain huts you can fill up with. However, you should always carry enough water in case you get off track or run into some emergency.