Tag Archives: hike

Nasudake Autumn Hike

Oct. 16, 2016 Hike

Yes, autumn kōyō fever has started  and we are on a roll! After Gunma last week, now it’s time for Nasudake. My goal is basically to tick off the list of hikes for “kōyō migoro” or autumn foliage peak season. Thank god the weather forecast was for sunny skies! Weathernews lists Nasudake as “migoro” or “peak for viewing” – perfect timing!

We were going to do a day hike to Mt. Nasudake. It can be done from Tokyo but we decided to stay overnight in Nasu.

So yesterday, our chill day, we arrived mid-day in Nasu. Had an outdoor barbecue for lunch, among other random highland activities at Minamigaoka Bokujo (南ヶ丘牧場), before arriving at our ryokan in Nasu Onsen. 

OMG. Cheese ice cream tastes like Tokyo Milk Cheese!

Nasu has really good onsen! Shika no Yu had creamy white water, which I found to be great for the skin. I had the best sleep, but still woke up 3am to see the starry sky outside the ryokan window. Too bad it was a full moon though, the sky was too bright!

A starry night in Nasu Onsen
The next day, we hopped on the bus bound for Nasu Ropeway. Traffic was heavy on the way. I guess everyone wants to be out and about on a sunny day!

After a 4-minute ride on the ropeway, we got to the 9th stop (9合目) of Nasudake. There are many trails from the ropeway station, but we chose the course that brings us to beautiful autumn foliage of Ubagataira (姥ヶ平).

Nasudake is a volcano, and the peak is a pile of rocks. We hiked south of Nasudake for abour 15 minutes, and we start to see some beautiful scenery.

Grassy terrain with some volcanic rocks

On our left hand side, we see the view of the rest of Tochigi and some fog covering the towns.

Hiking the path is not difficult at all.

After a few more minutes hiking along the path, we are greeted by beautiful red foliage spreading out before us.

It’s amazing how it can be completely rocky on our side but just lush red foliage on the other! And it’s perfectly migoro!

Look at that close up shot!

The view was calling us like a flame to a moth. We hiked a bit more towards it, and decided to have some snacks at a viewing spot. We were very near Ushigakubi 牛ヶ首.

View from nearby Ushigakubi
Bears love this sweet and sour berries. Humans who go deep into the mountain picking these berries may encounter bears.

It was the most beautiful view! We stayed there half an hour just staring at the beauty of nature. With a heavy heart, we say good bye and hike up back to the path. And a new view that was initially hidden spread out before our eyes. 

View of Ubagataira
This is looking over at Ubagataira 姥ヶ平 from Ushigakubi 牛ヶ首. So that’s our goal! We hike down a very rocky path for half an hour, and finally reach Ubagataira. It’s a flatland with beautiful autumn foliage and green shrubs. Many hikers were having lunch in the area. 

The view of Nasudake from down here is priceless! The red, the green, the blue sky, and the cute gas gushing from the volcano. 


From here there was a pond nearby, so we followed a wooden path for about 10 minutes. We were rewarded with a beautiful view of Nasudake reflected in the tiniest pond ever! 

ひょうたん池 Nasudake and its reflection on Hyoutan Ike

Nasudake is really beautiful and easy to hike. At every point there is a spectacular view to behold. We were so lucky to be blessed with perfect weather during the peak colors. I honestly believe that it would be so hard to top this trip this year. 

Very satisfied, we went back to Nasu Onsen and went in Shika no Yu for another time, before finally boarding the highway bus back to Shinjuku.

Who knew Nasu would be this beautiful!

How to get there?

JR highway buses from Shinjuku to Nasu Onsen, reservations required. Tranfer to Nasu Ropeway.


Tanigawadake Autumn Hike

Oct. 10, 2016 Autumn Hike

Part 2 of our autumn hiking trip to Gunma! 

After Oze, Tanigawadake was number 2 on our list of autumn foliage in peak season. We didn’t research too much about the mountain but just saw some pictures on instagram and thought it would be great to go there! So after hiking in Oze, we went to Tanigawadake and stayed at Tenjin Lodge, right beside the Tanigawadake ropeway.

That night I was really hoping to see stars since the sky was so cleanr in Numata! But just 20 minutes away, in Minakami area, it was so cloudy! Oh well, as the owner, Kieren told us, the mountain has its own weather. 

So we started early the next day. Forecast said it would be sunny, and we’re energized!

We got on the ropeway, and within twenty minutes it brought us 1300 meters above sea level. Beautiful sunny day and a peek of autumn colors at the hiking base in Tenjindaira! 

There’s a short lift after the ropeway but we opted to hike from here instead.

Tanigawadake is a hike where you go along the backbone of the mountain. And I didn’t know this, but apparently, it’s one of the well-known hiking spots in Japan for beginner’s rock climbing. The thing is, I’m not yet ready for that stuff! Imagine my surprise when we had to climb using some chains! 

It’s not difficult the entire hike though, and you get rewarded with beautiful views along the way.

And after a few more rocky ascents, we got to a viewing point where you have views from all sides! It took us 2 hours.

It’t a beautiful sunny day but the clouds are hovering and the gentle wind is very cold! I felt the need for a down jacket when resting.

We took in the beautiful view of the wonderful autumn foliage before us, and of the mountains spreading out behind us. We climbed this far just to see the view! 

Looking into the horizon I saw the ropeway station, a mere dot from where we were standing. It’s very humbling to be in the mountains.

If we went further than here it would be all clouds, so we decided to head down, as we feel that we accomplished our purpose coming here. 

Going down was really difficult! It was all rocks for about 30 minutes. But we managed. My knees were a bit shaky, but I think that’s just me. 

At the ropeway station, there is a proper restaurant, clean bathrooms, and a souvenir shop.

Non-hikers were spending a nice sunny day on the grassy area of the ropeway area.

All in all, it was a great trip even though I tired my knees so much! I’m very happy that we got to see mountain kōyō in the most spectacular way! 
Tanigawadake, Gunma

How to get there: Takes 3.5 hours by local train from Tokyo. Head for Doai station. 

Autumn season: Peak at mid-October