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Yunoko Lake in Autumn, Nikko National Park

National Park Guide: A Window Into Japan’s Precious Heritage

By Thai Ngo Feb 21, 2023

You may think of many clean and modern cities when it comes to Japan. However, many beautiful and majestic national parks are also part of this country’s famous heritage, thanks to the Japanese’s excellent zoning strategy. After tiring working days in the noisy and crowded city, a short vacation to the national park to experience wild nature will not disappoint you. Here are three national parks in Japan that you should not miss.

Nikko National Park

Nikko National Park, which opened in 1934 in the Kanto area, is one of Japan’s most popular natural tourist destinations. It is at its most stunning in the fall when the leaves are changing colors. 

How to Get to Nikko National Park

You will have to travel about 4 hours on the Tobu-Kinugawa line from Tokyo to reach Nikko National Park, which will cost about 4,000 yen each way.

Chujenzi Lake

When you arrive, you’ll first notice the tranquil Lake Chuzenji, surrounded by majestic mountains and ancient villages. This provides photographers with an opportunity to capture beautiful, eye-catching images. Lake Chuzenji, with its high altitude above sea level and the ability to regulate air temperature, is also a popular summer vacation destination for many tourists.

This place will also be ideal for visitors to do sightseeing boating in the fall. The reflection of maple trees with bright red foliage on the lake’s surface will be an unforgettable highlight at that time. The lake’s sightseeing trip will last one hour and cost 1400 yen.

Nantai Mountain

Mount Nantai in Nikko national park

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Another exciting destination in Nikko National Park is Mount Nantai, located north of Lake Chuzenji. This is a perfect place for young people who love to explore nature! From the top of the mountain, you will be able to see the entire Nikko National Park. In addition, on the way up the hill, there is the famous ancient Futarasan temple. Every year, from July 31 to August 7, people can climb the mountain at night during a festival at this temple.

Kegon Waterfall

If you have been to Lake Chuzenji, you will need to pay attention to Kegon Waterfall. This is a 100-meter-high waterfall pouring from this lake. When coming here, you can admire the rolling waterfall with brilliant green, yellow, and red leaf colors.

Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park

“Japan without Mount Fuji is like America without the Statue of Liberty,” a Japanese person once said. This is a widely recognized symbol of this country all over the world. The well-known Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park is in the western part of Tokyo, Japan. It comprises Mount Fuji, the town of Hakone, and the Izu Islands. This national park covers a total area of 1227 square kilometers, but it is not all in one place like other national parks. Instead, it is spread out in many regions.

Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji, Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park

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Mount Fuji in Shizuoka Prefecture, which is less than 100 kilometers southwest of Tokyo, will be everyone’s favorite stop at this national park. Mount Fuji is open to the public every year from early July to early September. This is the best time for people to climb Mount Fuji, thanks to the suitable weather.

On Mount Fuji’s trekking path, there are ten rest stops. Each is about a 30-minute walk from the other. Here, you can take a break, eat, and buy souvenirs. Climbing is also challenging, so you should take the bus to stop number 5 before you climb to save time and keep your health in good shape. Depending on the time of year, you can see cherry blossoms, bright maple leaves, or snow-capped mountains in the distance during the trip.

Hakone Town

Lake Ashinoko and Motohakone in Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park

Photo credit: Japan Ministry of the Environment Website

If you’ve been climbing for hours and want a quiet place to rest, Hakone Onsen town is, without a doubt, a great place to go. Hakone is best visited in the autumn or during the cherry blossom season, and you can get there by direct train from Shinjuku Station to Hakone Yumoto Station.

Hakone Onsen is a well-known “specialty” in the form of onsen bathing. After only a few hours of soaking in hot water, you will feel extremely relaxed, comfortable, and stress-free. 

Also, photography fans should go to Hakone Shrine, which is said to have been built 1200 years ago and has a Torii shrine gate that floats on the water. Then, if you want to experience Hakone’s ancient, quiet atmosphere, go to Sounji Temple, which is surrounded by peaceful mountain nature. The surrounding tree lines will give you a forest bathing experience.

Kushiro Wetland National Park

Red-crowned Cranes in bird sanctuary, Kushiro National Park

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Along with the huge Mount Fuji, a picture of red-crowned cranes also represents peace and longevity in Japan. So, in 1980, Kushiro Shitsugen National Park was also created to help stop the growth of cities and protect the habitat of this red-listed crane. You can take the Senmo line on the Japan train line in Hokkaido to get to Kushiro National Park.

A Wild National Park

This place in Hokkaido is the largest swamp in Japan. There are about 700 kinds of plants and about 1,300 kinds of animals here. If you can come here in late summer or early fall, bring a camera with large lenses because more than 200 different kinds of wild birds will gather here. Along the way, lots of small animals will show up and look at you curiously because this is a wild area that is strictly protected.

All of the buildings here are just observation decks and boardwalks so that tourists can closely look at the local animals and plants. This protects the natural beauty and uniqueness of the area. From these lookouts, you can see water features like rivers and lakes, as well as busy tourist spots like the Kushiro River and the nearby wetlands.

Which National Park Do You Think Is the Best?

Have you decided on your future vacation spot after reading this article? If that’s the case, let’s plan to visit Japan’s largest and most beautiful national park!

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