Hiking in Tochigi: Sandogoya Onsen, Mt. Chausu and Mt. Asahi - Vikingess Voyages

Friday, June 20, 2014

Hiking in Tochigi: Sandogoya Onsen, Mt. Chausu and Mt. Asahi

Japan has a lot to offer when it comes to nature and outdoor activities, and for people who like to go hiking there are many places worth a visit. If you're staying in Tokyo there are many mountains in the vicinity of the city so it is not even necessary to travel that far to find great hiking spots. This weekend I went to Nasu in Tochigi Prefecture, a place known for its onsen, ski resorts and sake. We rented a car in the morning and drove all the way from Tokyo, a trip that took around three hours. The air was a lot dryer than in Tokyo, and the temperature was slightly lower. It was just perfect! From the parking spot we walked for around 4 hours or so until we reached our ryokan.
Green forest and cloudy mountain
Although we still are in the middle of the rainy season there are various reasons why mid-June might be a good time to go hiking in Japan. Most people who like to visit the mountains during the summer season have not gotten their plans ready yet, and the risk of getting wet makes many people avoid going to the mountain during this period. This was however quite fortunate for me and my friends, because the number of travelers staying at the same ryokan (traditional Japanese hotel) as us was low.
We stayed at a ryokan called Tabakoya, which means Tobacco Inn. Ironically it is not allowed to smoke inside the ryokan (not that I'm complaining or anything. This ryokan is not listed with any online travel agencies so it's truly a hidden gem (although they have an outdated Japanese HP).
Traditional Japanese dinner at the ryokan
The best thing about the ryokan we stayed at was their outdoor hot spring (Sandogoya Onsen - 三斗小屋温泉)
In the evening both men and women could use the onsen together, and for me this was my first time trying out the onsen in konyoku style. Even when bathing with the opposite sex one of the people using the onsen actually wears any bathing suit, so it was a slightly strange experience. Luckily it was completely dark, so even with just a small towel to cover your private parts it is still sort of doable.
Besides being almost completely naked in the same onsen as a bunch of strangers the experience was actually really nice. The sky was not clouded so we could enjoy the sight of the starry night from the warm hot spring. 

View from the rotenburo onsen
The second day it was time for the real hike to begin. We passed by some interesting sights on the way, such as the source of the onsen used at the ryokan we had stayed at. 

源泉, the onsen source
Pretty landscape
My hiking team
 On our way to Mt. Chausu we also climed Mt. Asahidake. I took a picture of this cute stone tori on the top of the mountain. You can actually see Mt. Chausu in the background too.!
Top of Mt. Asahidake (朝日岳)

Taking a break on the way to Mt. Chausu
A torii on Mt. Chausu
Mt. Chausu is actually an inactive volcano, and indeed it is a very popular place to visit too. You can actually reach Mt. Chausu from a cable car if you’re too lazy to climb it. We passed by a lot of normal tourist while walking around the crater of the volcano.
A lot of tourists were also visiting Mt. Chausu

Mt. Chausu seen from below
The weekend in Nasu was really great! If I have the chance I will definitely go visiting this place again. Words cannot describe how good it is to get out of Tokyo after a busy week at work..

Other pages:
Japan: The Official Guide. Nasu Area
The Japan Guide: How to get to Nasu-Shiobara
Tabakoya's Homepage

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Recommended Hotels close to Nasu / Shiobara

Hotel Epinard Nasu
Hotel Epinard Nasu
Island Hotel & Resort Nasu
Island Hotel & Resort Nasu
Scotch Court Hotel
Scotch Court Hotel

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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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