Saturday, June 28, 2008

Oze National Park

Map Location for one of quite a number of entry points into the park. There are many entrances.

Oze wetlands

One of the most famous natural areas near Tochigi is Oze National Park. This park spanning Tochigi, Fukushima, Gunma and Niigata prefectures features great wetlands, mountains, forests and a lake. Its quite crowded in Spring and Autumn. In fact it was fairly busy when we were there on a weekend in June. The park was originally part of the Nikko National Park, but was separated to form its own park to reduce visitor numbers to it fragile environment.

Oze Lake

There is quite a bit of walking that you could do in the park. I would think you could easily spend 3 or 4 days here. But most people walk in and spend the night at one of the huts at the lake or in the wetlands and then walk out the next day. You can walk in via the mountain peak but I imagine that would be a fairly hard day if you're not fit.

Oze accommodation with a view

On our trip we walked into the wetlands on the first day. We did not book in advance and were able to get a room at the second place we tried. It looked like there were plenty of vacancies. I don't recommend this method. Had we failed to get a room it would have been a long, long day walking out again. The room was 8,500 yen each for the two of us in a small room with shared bathroom and simple dinner and breakfast. The staff spoke pretty decent English and there was a Chinese lady working there who spoke Mandarin.

Lots of boardwalks in the park

The entire park was really lovely. In June it was very green. It was also much cleaner than most Japanese walking destinations. I didn't see a single piece of rubbish on the ground the entire trip. The park was not crowded but it was definitely busy. Especially the area around the lake. I think for our trip there in Autumn when its more popular, we will have to go on a weekday.

Just a word of advice. Wear long pants! There are huge quantities of biting insects in the wetlands. They don't fly more than 40 or 50 centimeters from the ground so your arms and face are safe, but if you are wearing shorts they will eat you alive.

Next time I'd also like to climb the mountain.

More photos from the park and the drive in from Tochigi.


owenandbenjamin said...

Great pictures as usual. One of the things I love about Japan is how green it is. For about 320 days per year, Southern California looks brown and dead. Definately a big contrast after returning from a trip to Japan.

davidfromoz said...

Yes, incredibly green at the moment. I have been trying to capture the feeling in a picture but can't do it.

All round the seasons in Japan are just great. Oze must be really great in fall too.

Me said...

Thanks for the article and great pictures. I'll have to come to here sometime when I get back to Nasukarasuyama. I love hiking, and this looks like a great spot!

davidfromoz said...

Thanks for visiting our blog. mmmm. We're practically neighbors! As you probably know, there is heaps of good walking in Tochigi!

the soul of japan said...

I remember visiting this place about 4 years ago. Wow! Oze. Did you have a chance to try the tempura at one of the shops?

davidfromoz said...

Tony: Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. Yes, Oze is fantastic. We didn't try to Tempura there :-( Theres always next time. Come spring we want to climb the mountain. Also we want to stay at one of the Ryokan in the area too. By all accounts there are some nice onsens.

Anonymous said...

We've been living in Tochigi about 10 months now and always struggle to find info in English about local walks, trails etc. Your site has been very useful so far. We're planning a trip to Oze next week. How do you book rooms at the lodges in the National Park?

davidfromoz said...

Gah, sorry. Missed your comment (due to blog neglect I'm afraid). We don't know how to book the places in the park. We just walked in and asked and luckily got one.

We're lucky because Cassandra can read quite a bit of Kanji (due to it being based on Chinese). With the help of Google translate and a cut and paste file with some of our information we are up above 50% in booking/ordering things on Japanese sites.