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Autumn Foliage In Japan: Nikko Is the Place -Especially for Anime Fans!

Toshogu Shrine, Nikko

Come view spectacular ambers and ochers throughout Nikko, including Irohazaka Winding Road, setting of the popular road racing manga/anime series Initial D. And check-out the new Nikko Pass and Cycle Sharing Program!


Nikko, in the outer reaches of Metropolitan Tokyo, about two hours north along the Tobu Railway Line, is a historic city famous for its UNESCO World Heritage Sites (https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/913). These sites are particularly scenic in the autumn when the maples and oaks turn crimson and gold. 

Nikkozan Rinnoji Shoyoen garden on grounds of World Heritage Rinnoji Temple


However, the brilliant colors and natural attractions of Nikko expand beyond the historic locales, and today, the area 
especially beckons anime fans, who come to see and experience the notoriously windy and winding Irohazaka Winding Road (https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3816.html), featured in the popular anime and manga.

Irohazaka Winding Road

Sport racing series Initial D (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Initial_D). There is both a downhill road (built in 1954) and an uphill road (built in 1965). The downhill route includes two pit-stops with respective waterfall viewing platforms, including the glorious, 100 meter-tall Kegon Falls (https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3812.html),

Kegon Falls seen from Akechidaira Ropeway Observation Deck 

one of the three most famous cascades in all of Japan. The uphill route reaches as far as the AkechidairaPlateau (https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3819.html), the launch point for the three-minute aerial tramway ride (2 hours hike by foot) that soars to the Akechidaira Ropeway Observation Deck  (http://www.tobujapantrip.com/en/tourism/nikko_kinugawa/11.html), said to be the most popular seasonal viewing spot in Nikko. The panorama offers the most breathtaking views of Kegon Falls as well as Lake Chuzenji (https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3806.html), Japan's highest elevation lake and the 2,486 meter-high, sacred Mt. Nantai (http://beauty-of-japan.com/article/mt-nantai-san/). 

Lake Chuzenji & Mt. Nantai


With a starting altitude of about 1400 meters, the fall foliage arrives in Nikko earlier than in other places in Japan.

1. Lake Yunoko – Off the Beaten Track – Peak Season: Early to Mid-OctoberAbout six km northwest of Lake Chuzenji, in Oku-Nikko (https://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/regional/tochigi/okunikkou.html), within Nikko National Park, is Lake Yunoko (https://www.japantimeline.jp/en/tochigi/tobu-tochigi/yunoko_lake).  The 3-km circumference Lake is surrounded by mountains on three sides and is replete with old growth forests. The lake water flows through the Senjohgahara Marshlands, before reaching the Ryuzo-no-taki Waterfall, leading down into much larger Lake Chuzenji.  It is a naturally beautiful spot lying off the usual tourist circuit. Here, the fall colors reflect off the water and morning fog provides a misty, mysterious aura.  At the northern lake-shore is Yumoto Onsen (https://travel.tochigiji.or.jp/en/things-to-do/67/), featuring a complimentary foot spa known as Anyo-no-yu that is filled by the waters of the Oku-Nikko hot spring.

Lake Yunoko

2. Lake Chuzenji -- Peak Season: Mid-to-Late October
Breathe the crisp air and view the vibrant colors on one of several Lake Cruises: http://www.tobujapantrip.com/en/tourism/nikko_kinugawa/3.html

3. Irohazaka Winding Road, Akechidaira Plateau, and Akechidaira Ropeway -- Peak season: Mid-October to early November

Exploring Oku-Nikko: What's NEW?

1. Cycle Sharing: Just this year, in 2018, the Nikko Natural Science Museum (http://www.tobujapantrip.com/en/tourism/nikko_kinugawa/46.html), which provides seasonal information and events related to nature in Nikko, began operating a Cycle Sharing program (http://docomo-cycle.jp/okunikko/en/). The program makes it easy for visitors to rent bicycles to explore Oku-Nikko. This includes electrically-assisted bicycles, for those who may struggle under their own pedal power.


2. Nikko Pass (http://www.tobu.co.jp/foreign/en/pass/) for foreign visitors was upgraded on July 1, 2018. It now provides discounts on Lake Chuzenji cruises and the Akechidaira Ropeway (both mentioned above).
Where to Stay

The historic Chuzenji Kanaya Hotel (https://www.kanayahotel.co.jp/eng/ckh/), situated within a forest on the north shore of Lake Chuzenji, is designed in a log cabin style. It is famous for the stunning outdoor bath "Sora-Buro," ideal for enjoying either the daytime foliage the starlit night sky. What a place to relax with a morning stroll in the fresh, lake shore air.


Sora Boro Bath at Chuzenji Kanaya Hotel, Photo by T. Chiba

About TOBU Railways:

The TOBU Railway Group is a major Japanese corporate conglomerate consisting of approximately 90 companies. The Tobu Railways cover the longest operating distance in the Tokyo Metropolitan area, leading to numerous tourist attractions, including Asakusa and Tokyo SKYTREE TOWN in Tokyo, Nikko and Kinugawa Onsen, famous for world heritage and hot springs, the Tatebayashi and Ashikaga area renowned for its beautiful blooming flower fields, and Kawagoe, where the atmosphere of the old Edo era lives on.

Explore destinations around Tobu Railway Group at TOBU Japan Trip: http://www.tobujapantrip.com/en/

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