A Hike In Nikko National Park - December 2017

Senjogahara Marshland is located above 1,400 mtr above sea level (our onsen resort, Yumoto Onsen is 1,487 mtr above sea level) and covers the plateau between Lake Chuzenji and Yumoto Onsen.

In December 2017, we visited Senjogahara Marshland as we hiked from Yumoto Onsen along Lake Chuzenji with our final destination being the Kegon Falls. Kegon Falls is rated as one of Japan's most beautiful waterfalls, alongside Nachi Waterfall in Wakayama Prefecture (which we hiked and visited in September 2015) and Fukuroda Waterfall in Ibaraki Prefecture.

Kegon Falls is 100 mtr tall and is Nikko's most famous waterfall. Apart from Kegon Falls, we also managed to view Yudaki Falls and Ryuzu Falls during our hike.

During winter, the marshland is usually covered by several centimeters of snow typically between December and March, during which the hiking trails may not be passable. We were lucky that on the day of our hike, it wasn't snowing so our hike was quite easy and bearable. It snowed the next day and it would've been quite slippery for us to embark on the hike after it snowed!
There are a few entries to the marshland and one can get to them by taking the Tobu bus (covered by Nikko All Area Pass) but we started our hike from our hotel located right at the edge of Lake Yunoko in Yumoto Onsen.
There are a number of rest areas dotted along the hiking route but I guess they are mostly open during much busier time - weekends/holidays. When we were there, most were closed. Luckily of course, there are always the ever dependable vending machine available to buy our drinks from when our own stock had depleted.
It took us a leisurely 5 hours to cover 16km and it was fine with us.
A view of Lake Yunoko at one of the viewing platorm
We started our hike from Lake Yunoko which is just steps away from our hotel.
After about an hour, we reached Yudaki Falls and we stopped there to buy some drinks from the vending machine. We lingered here for a bit, until bus loads of tour groups arrived with member disembarking the buses with excited chatter and we continued our hike.
Before we went into Senjogahara, we passed by the Odashirogahara Plateau first. Part of the trail is on walkways and part of it is on the trail.
Although many trees had shed their autumn leaves and preparing for the arrivial of winter, there were still greenery to be seen at Odashirogahara.
Senjogahara however, was a vast field of yellow when we were there and its backdrop are the mountains of the area.

The signboard shows the name of the mountains in the background and their elevation. No English sign though.

We just followed the wooden walkway and stopped whenever we see something interesting.
The wooden walkway is pretty well-maintained. It is fine to walk on with normal shoes if its dry but if it rained or snowed, this path may be slippery.

Thank goodness the weather cooperated with us when we were there.
We bumped into a few bird lovers during the hike but we were mostly by ourselves at other times. It was nice to enjoy such peace and quiet and be able to view nature at our own pace.

Along the route, there are platforms like this so visitors to stop and enjoy nature, take photos or rest without causing traffic jam along the wooden walkway. Some have tables and benches too.
Snow dotted some areas of the marshland and we saw a few places where water was frozen. We had to be careful at certain area because the earth was crumbly due to ice but luckily most section were still okay for us.

The yellow and stark view that we witnessed while we visited Senjogahara is something new for us, being used to an all-green scenery most of the year here back home.
Exiting the marshland, we entered a fenced-off wildlife habitat. To make sure no visitors said they were ignorant about the area, signs are in both Japanese and English. And please do not stray away from the hiking course!

There were signboards reminding us about our surrounding. Fortunately (or unfortunately) we didn't bump into any animals crossing our path.
Beware of kuma (bear).
Then we arrived to Ryuzu Falls, located about 1,300 mtr above sea level.  We didn't stay here for too long and continued our hike towards Kegon Falls.
On the bridge, along the road and Ryuzu Falls under us.

Note: all three waterfalls are easily accessible by vehicles and there are parking lots almost right next to each of the waterfall. So don't worry. You don't need to go hike like us to view the magnificent waterfalls in Nikko.
By this time, we reached Lake Chuzenji and we hiked along the lake. There's a trail section where we could hike, away from the road so it was quite safe.

Here, the trail map from Osaki to Shobugahama, along Lake Chuzenji. But instead of distance, it shows the time you'll spend walking from one spot to another.

We saw a number of boat houses, vacation homes and those big boats that ferry tourists around the lake. We didn't get on one because we were stingy and just continued our hike.
Just walking along the lake was already nice and we did enjoy the view and the fresh air tremendously.
Trails markers and hiking courses in sections are available and well marked along the route and made the hike pretty easy to do.

This one has the distance shown.
Finally, we reached the town area. It was a weekday and the town was pretty quiet without the hustle and bustle of tourists. Shops selling grilled Ayu fish dotted the road and a few nice cafes were open and also a number of restaurants.
Our final destination for the day - Kegon Falls. Magnificent, isn't it? I got a vertigo just standing on the observation platform looking at the huge waterfall.

There is another viewing platform (with entry fees) at the base of the waterfall, and one can access to it via a 100 mtr deep elevator for a fee but again, we decided against it.

We also decided against going to a restaurant for lunch ( there were plenty of restaurants along the main street leading to the waterfall) and enjoyed a grilled Ayu fish and a bowl of suiton each at a stall located near the Kegon Falls elevator & ticket machine instead.
We ordered suiton, a flour dumpling soup after we were assured by the shop owner that it only contained vegetables and the broth was of fish broth.
Both the Ayu fish and a bowl of hot suiton were delicious! Just what we need on a cold day, after a long hike.

Afterwards, it was time to head back to our hotel for a nice soak in the onsen and dinner. We board the Tobu bus and we used our Nikko All Area Pass for the bus trip.

The hiking course is really well maintained and depending on weather, you do just fine walking it with a normal shoes/sneakers unless of course you opt to hike up the mountains nearby.


  1. Beautiful weather on your visit and I love the scenery. I would have enjoyed that walk too since it is cold and the sights are just so lovely.

    1. Yup it was very enjoyable since no sweating because of the cold weather! Haha

  2. The suiton looks tasty. I have not tried it before. Thanks for sharing the many photos. Lovely scenery.

    1. It's actually a dumpling soup la, haha

  3. Wow. Super love the hike with beautiful scenery. I would so love to hike again but will have to wait till my boys are a little older so we can all hike together.

    1. That will be soon! πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€

  4. I am impressed with their wooden planks to make your walks more pleasant and safe.
    The whole trip was great as you guys explored so much and saw 3 nice waterfalls. The last one Kegon Falls was really awesome. I wish I could stand below and let the heavy water splash on my head.
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful hiking trip.

    1. Yes, I was impressed too. Especially seeing that the wooden planks are well maintained.

      You're welcome, Anay. Thanks for reading too. Hehe


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