There are many scenic roads nestled amidst nature in Japan that are perfect for a cool weekend trip. If you are near Tokyo, you should definitely visit Nikko National Park, a place filled with gorges, waterfalls, marshlands, and so on. On the way to the national park are two breathtaking roads that are actually popular to traverse during the autumn and winter seasons, and which you should not miss out on!
Nikko is a small town famous for its shrines and ample amount of scenic beauty. It is easily accessible from Tokyo via a rapid train from the Asakusa Station on the Tobu Railway in approximately two hours. You can contact the Tobu office for more information on the availability of their passes and limited express trains running from different parts of Tokyo. There are also direct bus services to Nikko from Narita in Chiba and from Oze in Gunma Prefecture.
There are many places to see in Nikko such as the Toshogu Shrine, Rinnoji Temple, and of course, Nikko National Park.
Nikko National Park is a perfect destination for a weekend trip from Tokyo as it has dense mountain ranges, thick vegetation, beautiful winding roads, exhilarating waterfalls, romantic bridges, and so on for an awesome escapade. If you have a car (or can rent one) and are planning to explore Nikko on wheels, you should not miss the following two roads.
There are two mountain roads (one for downward traffic and one for upward traffic) called the “Irohazaka Winding Road,” with 48 switchbacks linking the upper terrain of Okunikko to the middle terrain of the mountainous region of Nikko National Park.
These toll-free roads are particularly beautiful during autumn when the fall trees emit bright red, yellow, and orange colors. In the winter, the mountainous terrain gets covered in snow, making it picturesque to drive over.
It is better to plan your trip in advance for this winding road trip and be prepared to be delayed as the roads can be blocked due to the influx of tourist vehicles during the autumn season.
There are many viewpoints here such as the famous Akechidaira Observation Deck from where you can catch glimpses of the road pins aka hairpin turns.
The Japan Romantic Road is a 350-kilometer scenic road that connects three Japanese prefectures – Nagano, Gunma, and Tochigi – through Nikko. If you are looking for a long drive, this is one of the best roads in the country as it passes through gorgeous mountain slopes and dense forests.
Both the Irohazaka Winding Road and the Japan Romantic Road are among the best roads in Japan to capture the autumn beauty every year.
You can start your journey from Ueda in Nagano or Kusatsu in Gunma towards Utsunomiya on the most beautiful Japan Romantic Road to reach Nikko. You will find plenty of hot springs on your way. Then, you can enter Nikko and traverse the Irohazaka Winding Road to reach Akechidaira Plateau where you can see autumn colors against the backdrop of plenty of natural wonders such as Lake Chuzenji, Mt. Hangetsuyama, and Kegon Falls.
Furthermore, there is a ropeway for you to witness the sprawling red hues covering the mountains and lakes. There is also another waterfall, namely Ryuzu Falls, that looks surreal amidst the bright red fall trees.
Explore Nikko National Park and its surrounding areas by driving over the aforementioned roads. Maximize your autumn experience with a nice weekend trip in Nikko, located just 125 kilometers from the busy streets of Tokyo.