Gunma: How to enjoy the Autumn Foliage at Oze National Park - Vikingess Voyages

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Gunma: How to enjoy the Autumn Foliage at Oze National Park

Red leaves and kusamomiji (草紅葉)
Photo: Anette

Autumn has arrived here in Japan, and with it comes the beloved red leaf season, kouyou (紅葉). One of the popular places to visit not too far from Tokyo is the Oze National Park (尾瀬), which is situated right on the border between three prefectures: Gunma, Niigata, and Fukushima.

Gunma: How to Enjoy the Autumn Foliage at Oze National Park

How to get there  

While it is possible to get to Oze by train we had decided to go by night bus from Ikebukuro to get the most out of the first day. There are buses that depart from the Prince Hotel to the east of Sunshine City, but you’ll have to buy tickets in advance in order to be able to go with them. Still, this is an easy way to get all the way to Oze without hassle (if you’re the type of person that is able to sleep in the bus).

What to see

The Oze highlands are situated at 1,400 meters altitudes and the red leaf season starts relatively early. We went there the first weekend of October and were surrounded by beautiful yellow and red colors through the whole hike.
In addition to the red leaves on the trees, you can also enjoy the view of the kusamomiji (草紅葉) - the autumn marsh grasses colored in a golden shade.
The Ozegahara highlands stretches out as far as you can see, and an elevated wooden boardwalk system offering paths to follow around the whole area, making it easy to get around even for people without extensive hiking experiences.
Oze is a popular place for Japanese travelers, and the children in Kanto apparently even learn a song about Oze in school. Not sure if this is it, but this song titled "Natsu no Omoide" (夏の思い出) is all about the beautiful Oze:

Where to stay

Although it is possible to visit Oze as a day trip from Tokyo it is better to stay at least one night to be able to enjoy the nature of the National Park to its fullest. You’d be surprised to find that there are many mountain lodges offering accommodation for travelers throughout the area.
We stayed the night at Onsengoya (In Japanese only), a mountain lodge that came with a hot spring bath (onsen). Although the onsen only was open from 3pm-7pm it was nice to soak for an hour after the hike.

In case you wondered; the hot spring at Onsengoya contains various minerals that are good for the skin, which is why the water has a rusty color.
Above: A healthy meal served at Onsengoya

When to visit 

One thing you should keep in mind is that all commercial activities in Oze are closed for the winter season. If you plan to visit only for a day it should be fine to go there if you bring your own food and drink, but if you want to stay the night while there and/or buy food along the trail you better stick to the tourist season.
It is thus best to visit during mid-May to mid-October, and if you want to enjoy the autumn foliage you should plan your trip for October. Here are some more photos of the beautiful kouyou (red leaves):
Oze is a beautiful area that doesn't require a lot of hiking experience. It is also a great plus if you're able to stay a night at an accommodation that has a hot spring - having the chance to defrost a bit before going to bed during a hiking trip is really a luxury. Although the hiking season already has ended in Oze for 2018 it will surely be a place worth visiting again when the hiking season begins next year. Hope you'll have the chance to go too!

Thank you for reading! Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below
- Anette

 ◆Basic Info

  • Oze National Park (尾瀬)
    Time Frame:
    Open mid-May to mid-October.
    The autumn foliage can be enjoyed in October
    1 1/2 hours drive from Tokyo

    Official Oze Webpage:

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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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