As the weather cools and the sweet aroma of roasted chestnuts fill the air, Japan’s landscape also transforms, revealing breathtaking autumn colors flowing from the mountains into valleys filled with crashing waterfalls, rocky gorges, and rushing rivers. In the autumn season, Nikko in Tochigi Prefecture stunningly displays the beauty of Japanese nature. Because it is relatively close to the Tokyo suburbs, Nikko earns a spot as one of the most popular places for people in Japan to visit during the autumn season. One particularly spectacular location is the tranquil Lake Chuzenji.
Nikko’s Lake Chuzenji in the Autumn Season
Lake Chuzenji, or Chuzenji-ko, is a scenic lake in Nikko National Park. The eruption of Mt. Nantai (2,484 m) 20,000 years ago caused the nearby river to be blocked off, creating this peaceful Japanese lake we see today. The lake is especially alluring in mid to late October, when the autumn leaves reach their peak along the shores and surrounding mountains. The Chuzenjiko Skyline road offers a panoramic view from the hill. Visitors can also take a boat tour which takes an hour to go around the lake.
Relaxing in the Autumn Season at Nikko’s Chuzenjiko Onsen
Lake Chuzenji’s shores are mostly undeveloped and forested. However, on the northeastern shore lies small hot spring town named Chuzenjiko Onsen. Being surrounded by stuck spectacular nature, you’ll want to soak in the atmosphere as much as possible. There’s no better place to accomplish that than from a relaxing outdoor hot spring bath, especially after a long day of hiking and other activities.
Located 1,250 meters above sea level and covered by beautiful autumn leaves, Chizenji Onsen truly is a treat for the eyes, body, and mind. Nearby is Kegon Waterfall which adds even more to the natural scenic atmosphere. The falls tumble from a height of about 97 meters, echoing throughout the cozy onsen town.
Explore Futarasan Shrine in Nikko Japan
In the vicinity, there are some other sightseeing sites such as the Futarasan-jinja Shrine, which is a part of the Toshogu Shrine complex. Founded in 782 by Shodo Shonin, Futarasan shrine stands dedicated to the sacred mountains of the area Mt. Nantai, Mt. Nyoho, and Mt. Taro. You can enter the shrine grounds for free and walk around the wooded trails surrounded by warm autumn colors. On the grounds, you will also find the famous Shinkyo Bridge. Shinkyo Bridge is ranked among Japan’s top 3 finest bridges.
Nikko’s Roaring Dragon Head Waterfall
Ryuzu Falls, or Dragon Head Falls, earns its name from its shape, which resembles the head of a dragon. Located upstream from the Yugawa River that winds its way into Lake Chuzenji, Ryuzu Falls can’t be missed, especially if you visit Nikko from the Tokyo suburbs in the autumn season. This stunning waterfall is spectacular by itself, however, the autumn leaves takes the scenery to new heights. As a result, Ryuzu falls is one of the most famous autumn leaves destinations in Nikko, near the Tokyo suburbs.
Activities around Lake Chuzenji in the Autumn Season
Fishing is quite popular around Lake Chuzenji, and many restaurants in the area serve trout caught from the peaceful waters. Of course, you can also enjoy quiet boat rides and hiking trails around the river. Any outdoor enthusiast visiting Japan will truly be dazzled by the beauty of Lake Chuzenji and the surrounding area.
During the autumn season, traffic can be very busy around this area. Thus visiting during weekdays is recommended. Lake Chuzenji Boat Cruise tours depart from the pier in Chuzenjiko Onsen. You can take a 10min. shuttle across the lake to Chuzenji Temple.
Address: 2478-21 Chugushi, Nikko-shi, Tochigi
Phone: 0288-55-0360 (Chuzenjiko-Kisen)
Hours: 9:30 AM – 3:30 PM
Closed : Dec. through Mar.
How to get to Lake Chuzenji in Tochigi Prefecture
You can reach Lake Chuzenji and the surrounding sightseeing spots in Tochigi Prefecture from the Tokyo suburbs by train. To get to Nikko, you can take the Tobu-Nikko Line. There are limited express trains and rapid trains that depart from Asakusa Station that will get you there in about 2 hours. After arriving in Nikko, you can take the Tobu bus bound for Chizenji Onsen or Yumoto Onsen and get off at the Chuzenji Onsen stop. A 2-day pass for unlimited bus rides between Nikko and Chuzenjiko Onsen is available for 2,000 yen at Tobu Nikko station.