One of the most attractive tourist destinations in Tochigi (栃木) is the mountain resort city of Nasushiobara (那須塩原). Nasushiobara is situated about an hour and a half ride by bullet train from Tokyo. In this article, we will talk about things to do at Nasushiobara.
As soon as passengers step out of the bullet train, the cool breeze of the surrounding mountains immediately greets the visitors. A look around reveals the hills and mountains surrounding this region. These mountains are known as Nasu Dake (那須岳) or Nasu Mountains (那須山).
One of the most authentic Japanese experiences is the onsen (hot spring) experience. Japanese people historically have a very close relationship with nature and hence love to bathe in hot water springs, especially naturally occurring ones. Nasu Dake is full of these onsen. The onsen experience can be both relaxing as well as a little intimidating for first-timers.
It is relaxing because of the warm water with a varying mixture of naturally occurring minerals, chemicals, and citrus fruits, which not only rejuvenate the skin but also the nose with the aroma and sense of calm. They can also be intimidating, however, as Japanese hot springs require visitors to be naked in the hot water. It can take some getting used to.
There are many different kinds of onsen experiences available, including private ones that you can rent only for your family. So please ensure that you experience this unique Japanese rejuvenation therapy.
Nasu has around 150 onsen and around 50 hotels that cater to those who want to experience Japanese hot springs. Two of the most recommended onsen are the Shiobara Onsen Hotel (塩原温泉ホテル) and the Epinard Nasu Hotel (ホテルエピナール那須).
Situated in the stunning beauty of the Nasu Mountains, Nasu Animal Kingdom is the place to be if you’re an animal lover or you have young children traveling with you. Nasu Animal Kingdom is a like a miniature zoo but features a lot of shows with different performing animals.
The shows include the Cat Show, the Dog Show, the Parrot Show, the Birds Show, the Farm Animals Show and Aqua Friends. The most interesting thing about these shows is the way the audience are allowed to interact with the animals during the show. For example, children get to be hurdles on which the dogs jump over, there are photo opportunities with parrots and hawks right over your head or on your arms, you can play hoops with the seals and more!
I would definitely recommend the Birds Show, which is spectacular with the hawks and eagles swooping within touching distance. The Aqua Friends show is also very interesting. Please note that the commentary is all in Japanese, except for the Farm Animals Show which is conducted by a New Zealander.
The other thing about Nasu Animal Kingdom that kids just love is the petting area. One can get to pet kangaroos, alpacas, capybaras, dogs, cats, and smaller animals. The visitors can also feed these animals during the feeding times allocated for each animal.
One thing to keep in mind for the visitors is that this place in the midst of the mountains, so can get either too cold in winter or too hot during the summer. So carry extra clothes and headgear such as hats depending on the season you are visiting.
Momijidani means “red leaves” in Japanese and is the place to be when Autumn arrives and the landscape starts to change colors. Momijidani consists of a suspension bridge and a dam. Visitors can go over the suspension bridge up to the edge of the dam. The view from this area of the surrounding mountain range is astounding. It is a photographer’s delight and even amateurs would love to get family moments with the blooming nature in the background.
The whole face of the mountains looks like nature’s own canvas. And during autumn when the leaves of these trees start to change colors, the whole landscape looks like colorful canvas full of life and joy. The leaves come in all sorts of colors from green, yellow, pink, red and different shades of each of these colors.
The walk across the suspension bridge also has its fun elements as the bridge tends to sway with each step. Also, the bottom of the bridge has a mesh from which one can see the water below and it adds to the thrill of crossing the bridge.
Finally, to wrap this blog as they say in Japanese “Nasu ni yōkoso!” or “Welcome to Nasu!” Don’t miss this fantastic area and all it has to offer!