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The spot around Lake Chuzenji (Chuzenjiko) / Nikko / Tokyo & Kanto Area

Chuzenjiko is especially beautiful in mid to late October, when the autumn colors reach their peak along the lake's shores and surrounding mountains.
And during Japan's hot summers, the lake's high elevation (1269 meters above sea level) keeps the area cool and comfortable, which in the past has attracted foreign embassies to build recreation villas along its shores.
Around Chuzenjiko Area, we are able to enjoy the spot as follows:
Irohazaka Winding Road
This famous road connects Lake Chuzenji with the town of Nikko down in the valley. It ascends more than 400 meters and is named "Iroha Slope" because its original 48 turns (now there are only 30) were equal to the number of characters in the Japanese syllabary, formerly referred to as "iroha". Autumn colors along the road can usually be enjoyed from mid October to early November, and are a cause of traffic jams.
Akechidaira Plateau
Ropeway Hours: 8:30 to 16:30 (December to March: 9:00 to 15:30)
Ropeway Fare: 710 yen (round trip)
Located at the top of the Irohazaka Winding Road, shortly before reaching Lake Chuzenji, the Akechidaira Plateau is a small parking lot with panoramic views over the winding road and the valley below. A ropeway lifts visitors in three minutes from the parking lot to an observation platform with views of Kegon Waterfall in combination with Lake Chuzenji.
Chuzenjiko Onsen
Chuzenjiko Onsen is a touristy hot spring resort town at the eastern shores of Lake Chuzenji and at the foot of Mount Nantai. The small town consists mainly of souvenir shops, hotels and ryokan, but also offers some sightseeing spots, including Chuzenji Temple, a Futarasan Shrine, a nature museum and, most of all, Kegon Waterfall. It is also the departure point of sightseeing cruises of the lake.
Kegon Waterfall 
Elevator Hours: 8:00 to 17:00
Elevator Fare: 530 yen
The almost 100 meter tall Kegon Waterfall (Kegon no taki) is the most famous of Nikko's many beautiful waterfalls. It can be viewed free of charge from an upper observation platform or from an observation platform at the waterfall's base, which is reached via a paid elevator ride.
Nikko Natural Science Museum
Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (November to March: 10:00 to 16:00)
Admission: 500 yen
The Nikko Natural Science Museum, which stands just next to the Chuzenjiko Onsen bus terminal, explores the history and ecology of Nikko National Park. The displays are informative and well presented with multilingual explanations. A large, multi screen video display highlights Nikko's four seasons.
Futarasan Shrine
Hours: 8:00 to 17:00 (November to March: 9:00 to 16:00)
Admission: Free
The second of Nikko's three Futarasan Shrines stands at the shores of Lake Chuzenji, at the base of sacred Mount Nantai. The shrine marks the trailhead of the hiking course to the summit. Futarasan's main shrine stands down in central Nikko, while the third shrine stands on the summit of Mount Nantai.
Chuzenji Temple
Hours: 8:00 to 17:00 (shorter hours in winter)
Admission: 500 yen
Chuzenji Temple houses a well known statue of Kannon, the 1000-armed goddess of mercy and compassion. The temple's lakeside location also affords beautiful views of Mount Nantai and Lake Chuzenji.
Italian Embassy Villa
Hours: 9:00 to 16:00 (until 17:00 in July and August)
Admission: 100 yen donation
Closed: December through March and Mondays
This elegant complex was the former summer residence of the Italian Ambassador to Japan. It is located on the southeastern shore of Lake Chuzenji and was recently donated to Tochigi Prefecture and opened to the public.
Sightseeing Boat Cruise
Available from mid April through November
Sightseeing cruises are another way to view the area and get around. Cruises depart from the pier in Chuzenjiko Onsen and range from ten minute shuttles across the lake to Chuzenji Temple (150 yen) to 60 minute round courses (1500 yen). Besides Chuzenji Temple, boats serve Shobugahama Pier near Ryuzu Waterfall and Senjugahama at the lake's western end.
Ryuzu Waterfall
Hours: Always open
Admission: Free viewing platform
Ryuzu Waterfall ("dragon head waterfall") is named for its resemblance to the head of a dragon. This waterfall is one of Nikko's most famous autumn color spots, usually at the peak of its autumnal beauty in early October.

How to get there

Chuzenjiko Onsen is connected with central Nikko by Tobu bus. The buses leave from JR and Tobu Nikko Station and are bound for Chuzenjiko Onsen or Yumoto Onsen. There are about three buses per hour. The one way trip from Tobu Nikko Station to Chuzenjiko Onsen takes about 50 minutes, costs 1100 yen and is covered by several Tobu free passes.

A 2-day pass for unlimited bus rides between Nikko and Chuzenjiko Onsen is available for 2000 yen at Tobu Nikko Station.

Note that during the autumn leaf season in October, traffic between central Nikko and Lake Chuzenji can be very heavy, and buses can incur heavy delays, especially on weekends. The Irohazaka winding road becomes particularly congested. If possible, try to visit during the week and not on weekends.

How to get to and around Nikko

By T.S. on Jan 23, 2011
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tag : Nikko



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Author:T. SATOH