The Oze National Park is a must-visit in Katashina. However, for the complete Oze experience I strongly recommend this beautiful 22km route through the Oze National Park. We passed through peaceful forests to the picturesque Ozenuma (lake) and walked in the magnificent marshland filled with bright yellow day-lilies – coming face to face with Katashina’s beautiful nature.
To get to Oze from Kamata you cross the Oze Bridge, the design of this bridge was inspired by the famous Mizubasho (Asian skunk cabbage) of Oze. Shortly after the bridge you reach the Melody Road of Katashina. This road has small cuts and bumps, so that ‘the Oze song’ plays when driving over it by car. This song is called ‘Natsu no Omoide’, translated to ‘memories of summer’.
Instead of starting at the Hatomachitoge Pass like last time, we began our journey at Oshimizu, the southern gateway to the Oze National Park. There are also buses at the central Kamata bus stop that will take you to this entrance to Ozenuma. At Oshimizu we waited shortly to fill up the shared taxi that drives to Ichinose. This service is new and it is currently being tested, hence they do not charge anything. As of the 19th September 2014 it stops for the winter season though. However, due to its success they will continue the taxi service in the next season as well, but then with a small fee. The drive to Ichinose takes about 12min, but you can also simply walk the 3.2km.
Nevertheless, we started our hike at Ichinose, going uphill on the ’12-magari’, the 12-slopes-road. On the way we passed a very small spring, surprisingly this is one of the freshest water springs in Katashina.
Throughout the entire route the pleasant sounds of the native Japanese bird Hototogisu (Lesser cuckoo) echo through the marshland. After 2km from Ichinose we reached the Sanpeitoge Pass and then there is only 1km left to reach the stunning Ozenuma.
I had long wanted to see this picturesque body of water, 1600m above sea level, surrounded by the beautiful marshland of Oze. The view is priceless, especially the clear reflection of Mt. Hiuchigatake in the deep blue water.
The border between the Gunma and Fukushima prefectures divides Ozenuma into 2. So from the north part of Ozenuma until Ryugu in Ozegahara you will find yourself in the Fukushima prefecture.
After having walked around Ozenuma we stopped at what can be translated as the ‘tail of the numa’, namely ‘Numajiri’. This is the perfect rest area to enjoy your o-bento while looking over the calm water of Oze’s lake.
The next 5km go downhill through a lush forest. The Ozegahara marshland is located 200m lower than Ozenuma. The map says that this part takes approximately 2 hours, however we completed it in 1.15h. So it is up to you if you want to complete this trek as a sort of training or a relaxing stroll.
After the 5km we left the forest and entered the Oze marshland with all its flora & fauna again.
If the 22km are too much for 1 day you can stay at one of the lodges in Oze. Many people on this route stop for a night at Miharashi, Ryugu or Yoshippori Tashiro. A futon in a common room with breakfast and dinner costs around 9,000 yen. It is wise to reserve before!
Pumped with adrenalin and a big smile on my face I was the first to reach the finish at Hatomachitoge. The beautiful landscape and nature, great weather and a varying trail made this trek such a fun trip!
If you are interested in carefully exploring Japan’s inspiring scenery by foot to come face to face with nature – this is the trail for you!
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Read about my previous Oze National Park Experience (here)
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