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Hiking the Oze Marshlands

Oct. 9, 2016 Autumn hike 🍁

My favorite season has come! This 2016, I decided to be an early bird in the fall activities, which means going up highlands and mountains to experience beautiful foliage at altitudes above 1900 meters. 

First on my list is Oze!

Oze is national park in Gunma that is known for hiking trails around the marshlands. Fall season comes  around the first week of October. We went there on the first half of the 3-day holiday, Oct. 8-9. We were hoping to stay in the mountain huts within the park, but planning late for a long holiday means places are fully-booked. So we just stayed outside the marshlands and decided to do a day hike.

We hopped on a train to JR Numata, shopped for snacks, then changed to a bus for Tokura Onsen. 

Tokura Onsen scenery

We stayed at a family-run ryokan with basic amenities. As in other ryokans, they serve a lot of dinner.

They also served us a good breakfast, and even gave us some onigiri rice ball to bring for the hike! Lovely people.

So we planned to leave for Oze like really early in the morning, by the first bus. But it was so unfortunate that the weather was so gloomy in the area, so we decided that leaving really early wasn’t gonna be worth it. An excuse for extra time sleeping! 
Private cars apparently are not allowed in Oze, so to get there, every one hops on a shuttle bus that goes high up the mountain. 

Shuttle bus schedule to Oze from Tokura Onsen and vice versa (peak season schedule)

Finally, we arrive in Oze. 

To get to the marshes, we did an hour’s hike through the mountain. Thank goodness I brought hiking wear. Sneakers and regular clothes are not good enough. And seriously it was so cold I thought it was December!

We enter the forest. It started with a muddy hike, but then there were wooden paths for most of the hike. 

Finally, we arrived at the marshland!

It’s very interesting. The area is so vast, even though you walk on wooden pathways it would still take you a day to hike to the other end of the marshland. 

The wooden paths seem endless in this world. 

Little ponds add to the charm of the place. 

Supplies sometimes brought in by helicopter?

We spent 2 hours walking along the path, and decided to head back. It was still raining, the wind was harsh, but we were very happy with what we saw.

Oze is really one of a kind. It’s one of those places where you understand its beauty when you get there, because pictures can’t tell you how amazing it is. We’ve seen it in autumn, but I bet spring in Oze will be as magical!

How to get to Oze?

Bus: There is a 3.5-hour direct bus from Shinjuku to Tokura Onsen, reservations required. Change to a shuttle for Oze.

Train: Take a train to Numata, change to a bus for Tokura Onsen. Change to a shuttle for Oze.