Oze National Park Katashina Village is situated in Gunma Prefecture, North Tokyo in the centre of Honshu (Japan’s main island), approximately 180km from Tokyo. Katashina is a village, however with it’s astounding area of 392.01 km² it is difficult for me to see it as one “little” village. Yet, there are 4,867 people living here, making it such a warm and friendly place.
One of the leaflets of Katshina says that it is the place ‘where nature makes her home’, I think this is very fitting. The village can be split into three different regions: Oze, Marunuma & Hotaka. All of these areas are blessed with unique natural wonders such as wetlands, lakes, mountains and colourful flora and fauna.
After spending a month in the bustling city of Tokyo, Katashina is like a paradise on earth. Don’t get me wrong, I love the city and especially Tokyo but – always being surrounded by crowds of people, the rush hour in the train bursting my personal bubble, only seeing part of the sky due to the many sky scrapers, various smells such as of fish, ramen, smoke and sweat diffusing in the air and only having paved streets everywhere, etc. – can be very exhausting (even though they do have their charms at times).
Therefore, to me, Katashina seems like the ideal place to rest, get back to nature and indulge yourself in physical activity. Splurge yourself with what nature has to offer: picturesque views, fresh local produce and fresh air (I still sometimes find myself taking an extra deep breath when I step outside – just out of pure enjoyment. It’s like a free snack + with 0 calories!). Get outside and trek through the marshlands, go fishing and canoeing, climb to the peak of the tallest mountain in the north of the Kanto Region (Shirane-san) or cruise down the ski pistes. After a long day out and about do not forget to scrub off all the dirt and fully relax in one of the many natural hot springs.
But don’t forget –
Explore for yourself: Katashina FUNtashina
OZE (Oze National Park)
Wetland adorned by flowering plants – Oze National Park is paradise on earth.
Oze National Park covers Ozegahara, Japan’s largest highland marsh, as well as Oze-numa, Ayame-daira, Mount Shibutsu, Mount Hiuchi-gatake and other distinctive natural habitats. Oze is exceedingly popular among mountain climbers, trekkers and hobbyist photographers for the abundance of alpine plants and beauty of the majestic mountain range. The symbol of Oze is the wooden walkway that stretches over 57 kilometers through the marsh, offering comfort and pleasure in hiking while protecting invaluable natural resources.
Beauty of the mountains and flowers of the season Trek through the expansive embrace of nature
Spring when winter snow lingers. The cool mountain breeze in summer. Leaves turning color to choreograph the mountains in autumn. Each season offers pleasures to the visitors of Oze with new and different expressions to show any of the times during the year.
The white, fairy-like flowers that bloom in clusters. The white arum lilies signal the arrival of spring.
The white fairies of Oze appear in the marsh after the snow melts. In addition to the white arum lilies, others, such as the pretty cotton sedge and yellow marsh marigolds, bloom around the same time of the year.
Yellow flowers forming brilliant waves in the green backdrop Summer with Nikko-kisuge
Summer in Oze’s marshes is colored with Nikko-kisuge yellow. Many of the alpine plants unique to Oze bloom during the short summer season.The mountains are deep green and the sky blue during this time.
Both the mountains and the marshes display radiant colors. Oze infallis wondrous as well.
The marsh, mountains, pools and small isles—all show their beauty in colors in autumn. In particular, the grasses and shrubs that turn color during the season are distinctive of autumn in Oze and a must-see.
Marunuma (Oku Nikko)
Thrilling, majestic vista, beautiful lake and colors of each season.
The symbol of Marunuma area is Mount Nikko-Shirane (2578m), the tallest mountain in Japan north of the Kanto region. Known as one of the top 100 great mountains in Japan, Mount Nikko-Shirane is a popular destination for mountain hikers. Surrounded by a number of outer-rim peaks, lakes and bogs, this mountain has captivated visitors with wondrous scenic views and an abundance of alpine plants. The autumn foliage is breathtaking. Also offering the pleasures of fishing, skiing and hot spring bathing, the Marunuma area is certainly the place to have fun in nature.
Marunuma, a peaceful lake surrounded by mountains The primeval beech and white birch forests along the lake
Present-day Marunuma was originally a natural lake that grew in size because of dam construction. With rainbow trout released in the water, the lake attracts a large number of lure and fly anglers.
Aerial tramway offers fun throughout the year—from the beauty of early spring to the colors of autumn and skiing in winter
Nikko-Shiranesan Aerial Tramway takes visitors high up in altitude from 1400 meters above sea level up to 2000 meters. The ride offers pleasure throughout the year—for viewing the beauty of early spring, mountain climbing, appreciation of the autumn foliage and winter skiing.
Fishing fun for families at the expansive, 20,000-tsubo Shirane Gyoen
Shirane Gyoen is a fish farm built in the style of scenic Japanese garden. One million fish including rainbow trout and cherry salmon are released for fishing and cooking. Strolling through the premises is also enjoyable.
Piping hot grilled corn on the cob—a taste of summer travel to be remembered
Route 120 (approximately 4km long) that runs through Higashi-Ogawa area is known as Corn Road. The road is lined with shops selling locally grown mushrooms and corncobs. (32) The brilliance of red against the green of early summer–Japanese azaleas bloom in fiery red
HOTAKA (Mount Hotaka)
Highland resort in the embrace of a sacred mountain.
In ancient times, Mount Hotaka was a training ground for the followers of Shugen-do asceticism. Today, it is popular as a highland resort and as an outdoor sports destination. At an elevation of approximately 1500 meters, there are farms, ski slopes, camping grounds, and beautiful beech forests. There are inns of all sizes in the area, which are used frequently as bases for sports training programs and for mountain trips. Summers are cool, and winter covers the area with quality snow.
Animals grazing and flowers blooming A stay at a farm brings sense of release for both the body and the mind.
Hotaka Bokujo is located in the highlands at an elevation of 1500 meters. It offers skiing in winter and enjoyable lifts up the mountains in summer. Visitors can saunter with the ponies and goats or hike the trails.
The brilliance of red against the green of early summer–Japanese azaleas bloom in fiery red
Hotaka Highlands is home to many flowering plants, including alpine varieties and lavender. The fiery red clusters of red created by Japanese azaleas in Hotaka Bokujo are astounding. The flowers reach their apex of beauty from late May to mid-June.
Enjoy camping and barbecuing with family and friends on holidays
Hotaka Bokujo has camping grounds, as well as log cabins and lamb barbecue facilities. Wake up to the calls of birds and immerse yourself in relaxed enjoyment of holidays in the woods.
Misty mornings and flickering rays of sunshine through the leaves–the beauty of the beech forest is a cathartic experience.
Hotaka’s beech forests have been very often used for shooting movies. Mists float in the morning and sunlight flickers through the leaves during the day–the changes of expression are breathtaking. This is a treasure to be protected, serving as a natural reservoir for drinking water.