Let these country roads take you home.
Nasu, long beloved by the imperial family, is considered an ideal location for city-dwelling Kanto region residents to have a country villa where they can escape humid summers and enjoy winter sports.
“Nasu” refers to the mountainous areas Nasu Shiobara and Nasu Kogen (Nasu Highland) in Tochigi Prefecture. It is is known for its numerous hot spring and ski resorts. The eight hot springs are collectively known as Nasu Onsen or Nasu Hachiyu.
Because Nasu is treasured for its idyllic location, convenience stores and other colorful shops and restaurants are housed in brown-roofed, earth-tone buildings so that they blend into the natural surroundings in Tochigi Prefecture. From Coco Curry to 7/11, you’ll find them all on Nasu’s main road, along with family-owned cafes, restaurants, and boutiques.
Yuai no Mori, the central tourist area of Nasu Kogen, is also located on the main road. There’s no shortage of restaurants, local produce, crafts, and homemade goods here. This is also the starting point of the Kyubi Bus, a sightseeing bus that hits all the major attractions in Nasu.
Nearby is Okashi no Shiro Nasu Heartland, a must visit for sweet lovers and for purchasing souvenirs. Okashi no Shiro literally translates to Palace of Sweets and you’ll feel as if you’ve been whisked away to paradise. Nearly every snack item sold here can be sampled freely to your heart’s content. Buy pre-packaged sweets or mix and match your own for personalized gifts. Its famous goyouei no tsuki, a moon shaped sponge cake with a creamy filling, are made on site every day, which you can see from the shop’s glass walls. There’s also a restaurant and cafe on the second floor.
Various parks and outdoor attractions prominently feature Nasu’s natural beauty. You’ll find the eponymously named Mount Nasu, one of Japan’s 100 Famous Japanese Mountains, in the northeast part of Nikko National Park. Mount Nasu is one of five active volcanoes known collectively as Nasu Five Peaks. Take the scenic Nasu Ropeway to the 9th summit of the 1915 meter tall Mount Chausu for jaw-dropping sights. Once you’ve made it, you can hike to the top in 40-50 minutes. Do note that the ropeway is closed from November 15 to March 19.
There’s also Nasu Rintou Lake View, a leisure park that surrounds Nasu Rintou Lake, the only lake in Nasu Kogen. Get up close and personal with cute cuddly creatures like the alpaca, or go for the total farm experience by making homemade butter and sausages. For a relaxing time, ride the pirate ship around the lake. But, if you’re in need of an adrenaline rush, whiz across the 220-meter-long zipline.
Another park that lets you explore Nasu’s nature is Nasu Heisei no Mori, a national park in the Nasu mountain range that opened in 2011. Coverening 1,380 acres, you can hike freely or take an guided educational tour in two different learning forests that have a wide variety of flora and fauna, as well as rare species.