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
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
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
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.