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Endless Space and Serenity Awaits in Nikko

August 26, 2020 Visit North Asia No Comments Email Email

When visiting Japan, those looking for a destination to escape the hustle and bustle of major cities and to be active in the great outdoors must explore the small town of Nikko, just a 2-hour express train ride on the Tobu Railway north from Tokyo.

Situated on the edge of the 1,150 km square Nikko National Park, Nikko is known to Japanese people for its UNESCO World Heritage sites, a surplus of ryokan and natural hot springs. However, little known to most Australians, it also provides the best access to the surrounding countryside offering the active traveller an array of options to choose from – whether it be hiking, camping or cycling. After arriving at Nikko, travellers can disappear into the national park where adventure and ample space await.

Cycling course from Nikko to Kinugawa

For cyclists, Nikko has a wide selection of trails to suit any level or timeframe. For those who want to maximise their time out under the sun, there is a 103.2km two-day trip starting in Nikko, leading you through the Nikko National Park to Kinugawa Onsen. Stay overnight at the 2/3 mark at Kinugawa Onsen and relax in the town’s famous natural hot springs that can be found at most lodging facilities.

Departing from the front of Tobu Nikko Station, make your way out of the urban areas into the cedar woods. Climbing peaks on wide laned roads through the forest makes for easy cycling and the flat banks of Lake Chuzenji are great for slow cycling to enjoy the scenery. Cyclists will be challenged with uphill climbs through quiet forest roads and an easy downhill stretch leading into a flat trail along the Kinugawa River towards your overnight destination.

Kinugawa Onsen offers a plethora of ryokan and hotels to choose from, so check-in and indulge yourself in some of the local cuisines before jumping into the natural hot springs and enjoying a good night’s rest. Wake up refreshed and after breakfast, make your leisurely way back to Nikko in around two hours ride south. More details on Cycling in Nikko can be found here.

Camping on the bank of Lake Chuzenji

The Shobugahama Camping Ground can be found on the northern banks of Lake Chuzenji which is a short drive from Tobu Nikko Station, offers wonderful views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.

Campers will need to supply their own tents and will only be charged a small fee per person for each night of stay. This campground is equipped with two outdoor cooking and dining areas, a small store selling snacks and amenities, as well as rental services of basic cooking equipment and blankets if you are visiting in the colder seasons. Advance bookings are not required so all you need to do is pack your tent and show up.

Hike through Nikko’s Marshlands

Start this leisurely hike from the Shobugahama Camping Ground and make your way through the ryokan of Oku-Nikko. You will then pass Ryuzu Falls – where two waterfalls stand adjacent to each other at 210 metres. From here onwards hikers can follow the path along the Yukawa River’s banks leading you to the Senjogahara Marshlands. The marshlands sit on a plateau at 1400 metres above sea level and allow you to see the mountains of the Nikko National Park.
The hikes goal – Yumoto Onsen – can be reached in a total of 2.5 – 3 hours one way. Find more information on the hike here.

Use the Tobu railway to travel within your comfort zone

The Tobu Railway’s SPECIA will take you from Asakusa to Nikko in under 2-hours and is equipped with private carriages which can be pre-booked for you to travel in comfort. The Tobu Railway has taken a number of measures to support passengers and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. These include regular sterilisation of all station equipment (ticket machines, handrails, etc) as well as cleaning and ventilation of all trains. For more information, please see their official statement.

Want to see more?

For video inspiration for your journey, the Tobu Group has a YouTube channel ‘TOBU Creators Experience’ which is dedicated to showcasing the different outdoor experiences in Nikko that can be enjoyed each season.

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