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Hiruzen Kogen Highlands

Enjoy scenic views, outdoor adventures and gourmet delights, topped off with a relaxing soak in its famous hot springs.

By Dean Newcombe

Hiruzen Kogen Highlands is located on a plateau more than 500 meters above sea level, on the border of Daisen Oki National Park. Known for its natural beauty and delicious local foods, the area is a hidden gem often overlooked by foreign travelers.

Exploring Hiruzen in winter

Photo by: Dean Newcombe Beautiful mountain views year round.

Spring and summer are popular seasons for cyclists and hikers escaping the heat, but winter is also magical when the whole region is covered in a thick blanket of snow. The scenery is spectacular, with the view of the Hiruzen Sanza mountains (three peaks more than 1,000 meters in elevation) visible from nearly anywhere in the town.

Even in winter, nature enthusiasts can enjoy activities such as ‘Forest Therapy’, where they can try snowshoeing through beautiful snowy mountains and fat-tire biking over the snow for a unique and challenging experience. You can also ski at the nearby Hiruzen Bear Valley Ski Resort, which offers over two kilometers of slopes and runs.

Local delicacies of Hiruzen and Japan’s finest cheese

Photo by: iStock/ IgorDutina A stop at Latte Bambino is a must for cheese lovers.

In addition to its natural beauty, the Hiruzen is also famous for its delicious foods. The region is known for its Jersey cows and the dairy products they produce. Jersey dairy products are everywhere, from ice cream to pizza and yogurt to cakes. One local farm shop, Latte Bambino, even boasts what residents call “Japan’s finest cheese,” crafted by a local man who learned the art of cheese making during his travels in Europe. This cheese can only be found at the shop and is a must-try for any cheese lover.

Other famous foods include yakisoba, a local take on stir-fried noodles in a miso-based sauce, and Genghis Khan, a grilled mutton dish that has become a soul food in Hiruzen. You can enjoy Genghis Khan mutton and local Jersey beef at local barbecue restaurants.

The Warm Waters of Sunayu Onsen

Photo by: WikiCommons/ Aimaimyi A visit to an onsen after a long day of exploring might just be what the doctor ordered.

After exploring nature and indulging in the food, you might want some relaxation. Nearby, just south of Hiruzen, an amazing rotenburo (outdoor bath) called Sunayu lies at the base of a dam. This mixed public bath is part of Yubara Onsen Village and is open 24 hours and features several large baths surrounded by rocks in the river of the Asahi River. Visitors and locals alike can strip down and soak in the natural hot water, said to have healing properties, especially in the chilly winter temperatures.

Hiruzen’s natural beauty, delicious local food, and warm hospitality make it a truly special place to visit.

Things To Know


It’s recommended to rent a car once in Okayama. Cars can be rented easily at Okayama airport or in Okayama City. Public transport options are limited in Hiruzen and the car will give you freedom to see a host of locations as we did. 

How To Get There


By train

Three hours 20 minutes on the Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Okayama Station

By bus

An hour and thirty minutes by bus from Okayama Station to Yubara Onsenguchi using the Ryobi Express bus service.

By plane

An hour and twenty minutes from Haneda Airport to Okayama Airport. 

Where To Stay

Fairfield by Marriott Okayama Hiruzen Highland
  • 1385-9 Hiruzen Kamitokuyama, Maniwa-shi, Okayama, 717-0612 Japan
  • ¥15,730 - ¥41,140
  • 4.89/5 (33 reviews)
  • 3.6 km

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