If you are planning a trip to Nikko, and want to see breathtaking views of Mount Nantai, Kegon Falls, or Lake Chuzenji, then there are plenty of great spots to soak up the sunshine and enjoy glorious views of mountains and the countryside beyond. Sights that are simply stunning. Here are the best four places to see mountainous views of Nikko:
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Nikko in Tochigi Prefecture is visited by many tourists annually, but there is an especially popular spot in the form of the secluded area of Oku-Nikko which rises even higher than the 600-meter altitude of downtown Nikko. Oku-Nikko includes Yunoko Lake, Yumoto Onsen, Senjogahara and Lake Chuzenji. Because of the high altitude, the summers are cool there and the area is known for its serenity and lush green forests. Many tourists come to the observation deck on Hangetsuyama so that they can get a look at the wonderful view of Oku-Nikko. From the deck, Mt. Nantai, which is the highest mountain of the Nikko Mountain Range, Lake Chuzenji and the high moors of the Senjogahara Wetlands can all be viewed. 300 meters below the summit of Hangetsuyama, the No. 1 parking area can easily be reached by car and a beautiful view can also be seen from there. In addition, there is also the No. 2 parking area further up the mountain from where the Lake Chuzenji Skyline can be used and once you park your car there, it’s just a 10-minute walk up to the observation deck. The walk up from the No. 1 parking area to the deck will take up to 1 hour. Buses and cars can be used to get up Hangetsuyama, but why not do some hiking through Hangetsutoge Pass? There you can get in touch with the nature at Oku-Nikko while viewing Lake Chuzenji and Mt. Nantai.
The especially famous views from the observation deck on Hangetsuyama are for Mt. Nantai, Lake Chuzenji and Hatcho Dejima Peninsula. Mt. Nantai is the highest mountain of the Nikko Mountains and a volcano belonging to Nikko National Park. It is has also been known as a symbol of worship since ancient times. Lake Chuzenji spreads out in front of the mountain and was created from an eruption from Mt. Nantai. Protruding out from the south is Hatcho Dejima Peninsula. The shores of Lake Chuzenji are well known for the fall colors, and during autumn, both the mountain and the peninsula are colored in a beautiful scarlet. The green trees of summer are also lovely, but the observation deck is particularly recommended to fully appreciate the deep autumn reds in the mountains which are reflected on the lake.
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Hangetsuyama
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Hangetsuyama
- Tours of Hangetsuyama
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Akechidaira, which is located in Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, is a rest area along Irohazaka on National Route 120 which links the city of Nikko with the popular tourist spots of Lake Chuzenji and Yumoto Onsen in Oku-Nikko. Irohazaka goes up 440 meters in altitude from Nikko to the shores of Lake Chuzenji, so taking a drive on that route makes the scenery below even grander. Nikko, which can be reached from the center of Tokyo in about 2.5 hours, is certainly a popular tourist destination, and there are a lot of tourists who make the drive on Irohazaka to get that view from Akechidaira. In particular, Akechidaira is especially famous for its autumn leaves. During the fall when there is that enjoyable splendid view of the mountains all painted in red, Akechidaira is the place to visit although there are big traffic jams on Irohazaka. It’s therefore recommended that if you want to enjoy the scene at your leisure that you try to reach Irohazaka early in the morning.
Along with the rest area at Akechidaira in the middle of Irohazaka, there is the Akechidaira Ropeway that heads for the observation area. The ropeway was first opened in 1933 but was shut down afterwards. However, it reopened in 1950 and has become used by many tourists as a route to reach the prominent tourist spot of Akechidaira Observatory. The observatory can be reached by ropeway in about 3 minutes. It is a short trip but you can view features such as the mountain range and the small waterfall. When you reach the observatory, the large vista of Oku-Nikko spreads out in front of your eyes. You can see Kegon Falls, one of Oku-Nikko’s Three Famous Waterfalls, the mountain range and Lake Chuzenji. Please enjoy the beautiful and grand scenery that can be viewed as if you were in the sky.
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Akechidaira
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Akechidaira
- Tours of Akechidaira
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Irohazaka is located in the city of Nikko in Tochigi Prefecture, and is represented by a section of National Route 120 between Umagaeshi in the city and the shores of Lake Chuzenji. No. 2 Irohazaka is the road climbing up to Lake Chuzenji from Umagaeshi while No. 1 Irohazaka is the road going down. The two roads together have 48 curves, and the name originated from the former Japanese alphabet consisting of 48 syllables and the Iroha Poem which was used to help remember the Japanese hiragana. There are signs displaying hiragana letters for every curve on Irohazaka. It is a tourist highway that links Nikko and Lake Chuzenji, and thanks to its 440m-altitude location, it has the distinct feature of tourists being able to view some truly wonderful scenery.
Irohazaka connects the city of Nikko with tourist sites like Lake Chuzenji in Oku-Nikko, and it will always be used by visitors for that purpose. However, the charm of Irohazaka comes with the beautiful view that can be seen from there. First off, there are 2 parking areas on No. 2 Irohazaka on the way up to the shores of Lake Chuzenji. The first area, Kurokamidaira, is a small place so it is easy to be overlooked, but a fine view can be seen there. The second area is the famous Akechidaira where it is recommended to try out the Akechidaira Ropeway. By the ropeway, you can reach the Akechidaira Observatory within 3 minutes. Known as the No. 1 observation point in Nikko, from there you can see Lake Chuzenji, Kegon Falls which is one of the Three Famous Waterfalls of Oku-Nikko and Mt. Nantai which is the highest peak in Nikko. Furthermore, the autumn foliage of Irohazaka is famous for its beauty, so it’s also recommended to visit during the fall season.
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Irohazaka
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Irohazaka
- Tours of Irohazaka
(image by kura2.photozou.jp)
There is a hiking trail known as Shizen Kenkyuro (Nature Research Trail) which was built to wrap around the entire 400 hectares of the expansive Senjogahara. Taking up to 2 hours to traverse on foot, hiking can be enjoyed within the wetland where flora such as blossoms of Japanese water iris and lotus along with spiraea and cottongrass can be seen. The wetlands freeze over in winter so the plants don’t take root, but against their vast scenery, the starry night sky is lovely and it’s said to be the best in all of the Kanto region. Since summer star formations and meteor streams can be easily seen in this area of high altitude, it’s been recommended for astronomical viewing (since there is over 90% humidity at the wetlands, there is a possibility of equipment getting damp so caution is advised). Senjogahara is also famous for sightings of wild birds such as nightingale and bunting. You can enjoy scenery along with the flora and fauna all throughout the year.
In terms of information on surrounding facilities when visiting Senjogahara, access by bus and car is convenient when passing through the wetlands via National Highway 120. There is also a bus connecting Nikko Station and Yumoto Onsen. Along with the Sanbonmatsu Teahouse where you can purchase souvenirs, there is also an observation deck at Senjogahara where you can view the vast wetlands. Plus, at the Akanuma bus stop, there is a free rest area at the Akanuma Teahouse which is also used as a starting point for hikers. In the surrounding vicinity, there is Yumoto Onsen where you can enjoy a hot spring and Oda Yoyohara where you can stroll through the meadow.