Q: Where can Kanto-ites go this summer with their families to escape the heat and humidity?
A: There are many mountain and lake resorts to choose from … here are a few suggestions for some that are popular with Japanese:
Tanigawa-dake info and ropeway photo(YH accommodation and Tenjindaira ropeway info and lodges) see also Minakami guide; Tanigawa-dake (1,977m) sits on the border between Gunma and Niigata prefectures. Breathtakingly and ruggedly beautiful, the mountain is called the “mountain of death” — it holds the record for the highest number of fatalities among mountains in the world, 781 people have died on this mountain (about 200 have died climbing Mt Everest). You don’t have to climb it to enjoy the views which can be viewed from the Tenjindaira ropeway area. Accommodation at the Minakami Hotspring Village
Yatsugatake highland resort and farms and Lake Shirakaba-ko area combi (accommodation at Tateshina) in Yamanashi. Particularly visited for the beautiful views of the rugged group of inactive volcanoes in the Yatsugatake Mountains (Other places of interests : Yatsugatake Art Museum, Tateshina Teddy Bear Museum, Ito Modern Art Museum, Rene Lalique Museum) and dairy farms at the foot of Yatsugatake;
Nikko and Chuzenjiko (esp Okunikko) – travel access info – in Tochigi prefecture. Lake Chuzenjiko is a scenic lake in the mountains above the town of Nikko to which tourists flock especially for the annual magnificent fall colour. Situated at the foot of Mt Nantai, a volcano whose eruption 20,000 years earlier had created the lake. Holiday-makers stay at the Chuzenjiko Hotspring Village on the eastern shores of the lake and to see the most famous of the Nikko National Park’s waterfalls – Kegon Waterfalls – ranked as one of Japan’s three most beautiful waterfalls, the waterfall is almost never without its rainbow and is flanked by arresting basalt columns;
Yoro Valley, in Chiba (Other places of interest : Particularly famous for hiking trails leading to beautiful waterfalls – Awamata-no-taki Falls, or Taka-taki Falls, which is located in the mountains about 4 kilometers from Kobun-do. While on the west bank of the river, visitors can relax with hot springs, fish barbecues and camping at a 1.7 kilometers inn by walking distance. Access and info at this page.
Nagatoro-kyo Valley, in Saitama (Other places of interest : Chichibu-jinja Shrine – built more than 2,000 years ago and the area around the Shrine a famed trading center for silk fabrics. At the north of Chichibu, are a Nature Park and the Arakawa River where boatrides are taken to see the layered schist rock beds that make a good fossil-hunting base and the cliffs called the “Red Walls of Chichibu” (Chichibu-Sekiheki). Read about all the activities you can do at Nagatoro here.
Mt. Zao-san, in Miyagi and Yamagata prefectures (Other tourist spots : Goshiki-numa (5-color marsh) and the emerald-green Okama crater lake; Visit Zao Shizen-shokubutsu-en (botanical gardens) for various types of alpine plants. There are a variety of outdoors sports that you can enjoy, such as camping, horse-riding lessons, as well as indoors which are Zao-onsen Hot Springs and Miyagi-Zao Kokkeshi-Kan where you can try out the traditional painting. Read the Zao sightseeing guide. Try the Shinshu Takayama Village Hotspring resort for accommodation. Access info here.
Komagane Chuo Alps and ropeway (Chuo Alps or Central Alps) in Nagano; Chuo Alps is the easiest of the hiking places – you can access spectacular views from the Sensojiki ropeway station and then head back down or climb the peak of Kiso-Komagatake. Komagane city is the base for hiking (Access info) and Komagane mountain resort is a popular place to stay as well.
Kamikochi Alps in Nagano for the spectacular alpine views (see Japan-guide and other info here and access map here – trips via the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route and sightseeing the Kurobe gorge and dam as well are always recommended tour options;
Southern Alps Kitadake (info) in Yamanashi (Read Forget Fuji: Climbing Japan’s second tallest – Kita-dake) for a good account of the Minami Alps National Park‘s highlights;
Five Lakes area and Mt Fuji (in Yamanashi). Lava flows dammed up rivers forming the Five Lakes – Lakes Saiko, Shojiko, Motosuko, Kawaguchiko and Yamanaka-ko. Lake Kawaguchiko is the most visited and touristy, being closest and accessible to Tokyo-ites, Yamanaka is largest with watersports, windsurfing and tennis facilities, Lake Shoji has good views of Mt Fuji and offers good fishing while Motosuko is interesting because it is featured on the 5,000 yen bill. For access info, see this page.
Hakone resort and Lake Ashino-ko, in Kanagawa ( Places of interest: Particularly visited for the variety of Hot Springs and Owakudani Boiling Valley. At Onshi Hakone Park, you can see the up-side-down reflection of Mt. Fuji on the surface of the Lake Ashono-ko. Other places of interest: Hakone Wetlands Botanical Garden (Hakone Sengokubara Shissei Kaen)’s wildflower and alpine park. Hakone Checkpoint. The Open Air Museum is terrific fun for kids. Read about our trip to Hakone here.
Karuizawa resort in Nagano has been a favorite mountain resort to which foreigners escaped since the late 1800s. Visit the Shiraito Falls following the hiking trail from the former Mikasa Hotel and also Yagasaki Park. For access info, see Japan-guide;
Hakuba and Matsumoto castle combi – the Northern Alps in Nagano. For sightseeing info and maps, see the Hakuba47 page. Try the Tree House Forest survival camp, MTB, river and pond fishing. In summer atthe Hakuba Mountain Sports Park, the famous ski slopes become an adventure forest, hiking and MTB trails.
For farmstays and farm visits:
Nasu Highland resort’s Rindo Lake Family Farm – Nasu highlands or Nasu Kogen is a famous resort in Tochigi well known for dairy farming, at the north east end of Nikko National Park and a magnificent active volcano called Chausu-Dake. Nasu hotsprings has a 1,360 year history, popularly visited by famous samurais and historical figures such as shogun Minatomo-Yoritomo, Matsuo Basho and Nichiren-shonin. Accommodation: or cottages closeby to Nasu Senbonmatsu Ranch.