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Resorts & Seasonal Delights ・ Find Out Why Nasu is Beloved by Japan’s Emperor

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North of Tokyo, on the edge of Tochigi Prefecture, you’ll find the town of Nasu, full of gorgeous natural scenery and extensive resort facilities. The area is so relaxing that it’s become a favorite of Japan’s recent emperors, and current imperial family members visit Nasu regularly. With such a royal recommendation, you might already be planning your next trip, but there’s plenty to be said for Nasu even without mentioning the region’s eminent guests. So let the Japankuru team walk you through the seasonal charms of Nasu, and why we highly recommend a stay at Hotel Epinard Nasu.

Why Visit the Nasu Highlands?

The Nasu Highlands (Nasu Kogen, 那須高原)

& Hotel Epinard Nasu



Scattered across the slopes of the volcanoes that make up Mount Nasu (那須岳), the Nasu Highlands area is known for picturesque natural scenery and luxurious hot springs, or onsen (温泉) as they're called in Japanese. That's undoubtedly why the Nasu Imperial Villa was built in the highlands in 1926, and the imperial family continues to visit regularly to this day.

While travelers can't stay the night in the Nasu Imperial Villa, just a few kilometers away there's the perfect replacement. Hotel Epinard Nasu seems a little like its own imperial retreat, and if you stay the night you and your family might just feel like royalty as well. You can always visit the Imperial Villa's gardens if you want, but the facilities at the hotel sure won't leave you wanting.

Easy Access!



Nasu has been a popular destination for a long time, but until recently many visitors have rented cars (or taken their own vehicles) to get there. Although Hotel Epinard Nasu isn't very far from the big city of Tokyo, it's tucked away in the natural enclave of the Nasu Highlands, making it a little removed from busy train and bus routes. Rental cars are still a pretty convenient way to give yourself a little freedom in the area.



Image Source: Official Website

However! The hotel now runs a direct shuttle bus from Tokyo Station and Ikebukuro Station, two of the most convenient stations in the capital city. That means that it's easier than ever to get there, and explore some of Japan's most scenic natural landscapes.

 

Hotel Epinard Nasu
1 Takakuhei, Nasu, Nasu District, Tochigi
Official Website (en)

Access Options:
① Direct shuttle bus from Tokyo Station or Ikebukuro Station.
     (Just make your reservation when you book your room!)
or
② Take the train to Nasu Shiobara Station, then find the Hotel Epinard Nasu shuttle bus or hop in a taxi.
     (It's about 30 min. from Nasu Shiobara Station to the hotel.)

Seasonal Charms

In Japan, Autumn Means a Trip to Nasu!



And it's not hard to see why. Every fall, the heavily forested Nasu Highlands turn a fiery red, making it an ideal spot to participate in Japanese "koyo" (紅葉, or autumn foliage viewing).



Hiking

With such photogenic hills and valleys spread across the Nasu area, hiking is an obvious thrill. Clamber through the brush and admire the mountainsides that rise up around you, covered in Nasu's autumn foliage.



The variety of plants make for a colorful collage of greens, oranges, and reds that paint the scenery like an impressionist masterpiece.



The Nasu Ropeway

If you'd like to admire the view, but aren't quite up to a full day of hiking, there's always the Nasu Ropeway! Make your way into the hills inside a cable car, and watch the terrain open up beneath you. Since the ropeway is an easier trip than a strenuous hike, it's perfect for family travel with older and younger family members alike.

Nasu Ropeway (那須ロープウェイ)
215 Mt. Nasudake, Ooaza Yumoto, Nasu-machi, Nasu-gun, Tochigi
Open: March ~ November
Official Website (jp)



Hot Springs

Known as an onsen resort, Nasu is full of steaming baths filled with natural hot spring water. Some of them are as old as 1,300 years, with water famed for its high quality.



The Killing Stone (殺生石, Sessho-seki)

It should be safe to visit now, but it's said that once upon a time the village surrounding this area was haunted by the spirit of a nine-tailed fox. This mischevious fox was turned into a boulder by a Buddhist priest who came and performed a series of rituals to save the village, but they say that this rock, the"Killing Stone" or Sessho-seki, will still kill you if you touch it.



If you're a little less inclined to believe in local legend, you might be convinced that the Killing Stone is just one of the many rocks that have found their way to this small valley. We still wouldn't touch it, though!



Of course, the area around the stone transforms in fall, just like the rest of Nasu. The once green surroundings explode into autumn color.

The Killing Stone (Sessho-seki, 殺生石)
182 Yumoto, Nasu-machi, Nasu, Tochigi



Nasu Animal Kingdom

Nasu isn't known for its local wildlife, but when it comes to animals from all over the world, they've got 'em! Nasu is home to multiple zoo-like facilities, with Nasu Animal Kingdom being particularly well-known for animal performances. Of course, you can spend all your time with the capybaras instead, if you want.

Nasu Animal Kingdom (那須どうぶつ王国) 
1042-1 Oshima, Nasu, Nasu District, Tochigi
Weekdays 10:00 – 16:30/Weekends 9:00 – 17:00 (Winter: ~16:00)
Official Website (en)

When Winter Comes, It’s Time to Ski!



When snow starts to fall on Nasu's reddish-brown treetops, that means it's time to break out those skis (or snowboards, or tubes)! Tochigi isn't necessarily famous for its snow, but you'll find some excellent ski runs right by Hotel Epinard Nasu.

The Benefits of Staying at Hotel Epinard Nasu

Reason ① Family-Friendly Facilities



Hotel Epinard Nasu has an entire floor entirely devoted to family rooms, made specifically to cater to families with kids of all ages. Not only are the rooms and hallways decorated with a little extra flair, but furniture is made to be accessible to younger children, there's nowhere to fall down from and nothing pointy to fall onto, plus – there are toys!



Hotel Epinard Nasu also does everything they can to make mealtime a nice time for everyone, and avoid stress. The family floor includes a buffet restaurant set up so that even young children can have a little independent fun, and make their own plate (with maybe just a little parental guidance)! Other days of the week, adult family members can head to a relaxing evening at one of the hotel's normal restaurants and bars, without worrying about boring the kids. Little ones love the chance to play with babysitters and check out toys of all kinds in the Piyo Piyo Room.

Reason ② Delicious Food and Great Date Spots



Whether you want to sample the rich variety of local produce…



… or indulge in a meal that's a little more deluxe, you're bound to find something you'll like at one of Hotel Epinard Nasu's seven different restaurants, cafes, and lounges. They've got French cuisine and traditional Japanese fare, fresh-baked bread and desserts made with local Nasu dairy topped with Tochigi's famous strawberries. (Try the soft-serve ice cream if you see it, it's a Nasu specialty.) There's even a karaoke bar and a luxe buffet with a little of everything.



When you want dinner with a view, this is clearly the place to be.



And with options like this, nobody has any reason to get crabby.

Reason ③ Alpacas!!



Hotel Epinard Nasu's team of alpacas are most often seen at the hotel's weddings, when they can be hired to participate in the festivities. That's right, if you get married at Hotel Epinard Nasu, you too can have an alpaca attend your wedding!



Even if you're not getting married with the Nasu alpacas in attendance, you might just be able to meet one. When the alpacas finish up with the majority of their work, which comes in the spring and summer, Nasu Animal Kingdom sets up special limited-time events where guests can meet an alpaca right in front of the hotel! Check before you arrive – there might just be an alpaca waiting to greet you!

Reason ④ Onsen, and Other Resort Luxuries



Hotel Epinard Nasu houses the largest open-air hot spring bath in the area, alongside jacuzzis, saunas, swimming pools, and big inside baths made fragrant with Japanese cypress wood. The hotel onsen draw their water from nearby sources, just like the famous local hot springs that date back hundreds of years.



After melting away the fatigue of travel in the onsen, you can move on to one of a variety of massages (there are literally three different spas on-site!), or instead take a nap on your spacious hotel bed.

Reason ⑤ Activities and Workshops



Last but not least, Hotel Epinard Nasu offers a huge variety of workshops and cultural experiences. Try your hand at making soba noodles, then taste them to sample your own handiwork!



Take a pottery class, or make some matching accessories for yourself and a friend. There are even workshops where you can learn to create tiny glass figurines – and put them in a snowglobe if you want!

Hotel Epinard Nasu

As the weather cools, the surroundings only get more beautiful.



While the imperial family often visits Nasu in late summer, we highly recommend a trip over as the season changes from fall to winter. It's hard to beat the hillsides covered in colorful foliage, but winter snow adds an element of lacy white elegance to the landscape, making for a beautiful view as you wake up in your cozy bed or soak in Hotel Epinard Nasu's hot spring baths.



Have you been to Nasu, or are you thinking about staying over at Hotel Epinard Nasu after reading this? Let us know all about your experience, and share some of your pictures with us on twitter, instagram, and facebook!

 

⇩ If you still need more convincing, take a look at our video of the resort, below. ⇩

Details

NAME:Hotel Epinard Nasu

MAP

ACCESS:Nasu Shiobara Station

OFFICIAL WEBSITE:

https://www.epinard.jp/

CONTACT TEL:0287-78-6000

PROFILE

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      Hokkaido (北海道) is the northernmost of the four main islands that make up Japan. The area is famous for Sapporo Beer, plus brewing and distilling in general, along with fantastic snow festivals and breathtaking national parks. Foodies should look for Hokkaido's famous potatoes, cantaloupe, dairy products, soup curry, and miso ramen!

    • Niki, in south-west Hokkaido, is about 30 minutes from Otaru. The small town is rich with natural resources, fresh water, and clean air, making it a thriving center for fruit farms. Cherries, tomatoes, and grapes are all cultivated in the area, and thanks to a growing local wine industry, it's quickly becoming a food and wine hotspot. Together with the neighboring town of Yoichi, it's a noted area for wine tourism.

    • Niseko is about two hours from New Chitose Airport, in the western part of Hokkaido. It's one of Japan's most noted winter resort areas, and a frequent destination for international visitors. That's all because of the super high-quality powder snow, which wins the hearts of beginners and experts alike, bringing them back for repeat visits. That's not all, though, it's also a great place to enjoy Hokkaido's culinary scene and some beautiful onsen (hot springs).

    • Otaru is in western Hokkaido, about 30 minutes from Sapporo Station. The city thrived around its busy harbor in the 19th and 20th centuries thanks to active trade and fishing, and the buildings remaining from that period are still popular attractions, centered around Otaru Canal. With its history as a center of fishing, it's no surprise that the area's fresh sushi is a must-try. Otaru has over 100 sushi shops, quite a few of which are lined up on Sushiya Dori (Sushi Street).

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    • Consisting of six prefectures, the Tohoku Region (東北地方) is up in the northeastern part of Japan's main island. It's the source of plenty of the nation's agriculture (which means great food), and packed with beautiful scenery. Explore the region's stunning mountains, lakes, and hot springs!

    • Akita Prefecture is on the Sea of Japan, in the northern reaches of Japan's northern Tohoku region. Akita has more officially registered important intangible culture assets than anywhere else in Japan, and to this day visitors can experience traditional culture throughout the prefecture, from the Oga Peninsula's Namahage (registered with UNESCO as a part of Japan's intangible cultural heritage), to the Tohoku top 3 Kanto Festival. Mysterious little spots like the Oyu Stone Circle Site and Ryu no Atama (Dragon's Head) are also worth a visit!

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      Fukushima Prefecture sits at the southern tip of Japan's northern Tohoku region, and is divided into three parts with their own different charms: the Coastal Area (Hama-dori), the Central Area (Naka-dori), and the Aizu Area. There's Aizu-Wakamatsu with its Edo-era history and medieval castles, Oze National Park, Kitakata ramen, and Bandai Ski Resort (with its famous powder snow). Fukushima is a beautiful place to enjoy the vivid colors and sightseeing of Japan's beloved four seasons.

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      Yamagata Prefecture is up against the Sea of Japan, in the southern part of the Tohoku region, and it's especially popular in winter, when travelers soak in the onsen (hot springs) and ski down snowy slopes. International skiiers are especially fond of Zao Onsen Ski Resort and Gassan Ski Resort, and in recent years visitors have been drawn to the area to see the mystical sight of local frost-covered trees. Some destinations are popular regardless of the season, like Risshakuji Temple, AKA Yamadera, Ginzan Onsen's nostalgic old-fashioned streets, and Zao's Okama Lake, all great for taking pictures. Yamagata is also the place to try Yonezawa beef, one of the top 3 varieties of wagyu beef.

    • Japan's most densely populated area, the Kanto Region (関東地方) includes 7 prefectures: Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama, Tokyo, Chiba, and Kanagawa, which means it also contains the Tokyo Metropolitan Area. In modern-day Japan, Kanto is the cultural, political, and economic heartland of the country, and each prefecture offers something a little different from its neighbors.

    • Gunma Prefecture is easily accessible from Tokyo, and in addition to the area's popular natural attractions like Oze Marshland and Fukiware Falls, Gunma also has a number of popular hot springs (Kusatsu, Ikaho, Minakami, Shima)―it's even called an Onsen Kingdom. The prefecture is popular with history buffs and train lovers, thanks to spots like world heritage site Tomioka Silk Mill, the historic Megane-bashi Bridge, and the Watarase Keikoku Sightseeing Railway.

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      Tochigi Prefecture's capital is Utsunomiya, known for famous gyoza, and just an hour from Tokyo. The prefecture is full of nature-related sightseeing opportunities year-round, from the blooming of spring flowers to color fall foliage. Tochigi also has plenty of extremely well-known sightseeing destinations, like World Heritage Site Nikko Toshogu Shrine, Lake Chuzenji, and Ashikaga Flower Park―famous for expansive wisteria trellises. In recent years the mountain resort town of Nasu has also become a popular excursion, thanks in part to the local imperial villa. Tochigi is a beautiful place to enjoy the world around you.

    • Tokyo (東京) is Japan's busy capital, and the most populous metropolitan area in the world. While the city as a whole is quite modern, crowded with skyscrapers and bustling crowds, Tokyo also holds onto its traditional side in places like the Imperial Palace and Asakusa neighborhood. It's one of the world's top cities when it comes to culture, the arts, fashion, games, high-tech industries, transportation, and more.

    • The Chubu Region (中部地方) is located right in the center of Japan's main island, and consists of 9 prefectures: Aichi, Fukui, Gifu, Ishikawa, Nagano, Niigata, Shizuoka, Toyama, and Yamanashi. It's primarily famous for its mountains, as the region contains both Mt. Fuji and the Japanese Alps. The ski resorts in Niigata and Nagano also draw visitors from around the world, making it a popular winter destination.

    • Nagano Prefecture's popularity starts with a wealth of historic treasures, like Matsumoto Castle, Zenkoji Temple, and Togakushi Shrine, but the highlight might just be the prefecture's natural vistas surrounded by the "Japanese Alps." Nagano's fruit is famous, and there are plenty of places to pick it fresh, and the area is full of hot springs, including Jigokudani Monkey Park―where monkeys take baths as well! Thanks to the construction of the Hokuriku shinkansen line, Nagano is easily reachable from the Tokyo area, adding it to plenty of travel itineraries. And after the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, ski resorts like Hakuba and Shiga Kogen are known around the world.

    • Aichi Prefecture sits in the center of the Japanese islands, and its capital city, Nagoya, is a center of politics, commerce, and culture. While Aichi is home to major industry, and is even the birthplace of Toyota cars, it's proximity to the sea and the mountains means it's also a place with beautiful natural scenery, like Saku Island, Koijigahama Beach, Mt. Horaiji. Often used a stage for major battles in Japanese history, Sengoku era commanders like Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu left their own footprints on Aichi, and historic buildings like Nagoya Castle, Inuyama Castle, and those in Meiji Mura are still around to tell the tale.

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      Niigata is a prefecture on Japan's main island of Honshu, situated right on the coast of the Sea of Japan, and abundant with the gifts of nature. It's known for popular ski resorts such as Echigo-Yuzawa, Japanese national parks, and natural hot spring baths, plus local products like fresh seafood, rice, and sake. Visitors often spend time in the prefectural capital, Niigata City, or venture across the water to Sado Island.

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      Shizuoka Prefecture is sandwiched between eastern and western Japan, giving the prefecture easy access to both Tokyo and Osaka. Not only is it known for beautiful natural attractions, with everything from Mount Fuji to Suruga Bay, Lake Hamanako, and Sumata Pass―Shizuoka's Izu Peninsula is known as a go-to spot for hot springs lovers, with famous onsen like Atami, Ito, Shimoda, Shuzenji, and Dogashima. Shizuoka attracts all kinds of travelers thanks to historic connections with the Tokugawa clan, the Oigawa Railway, fresh eel cuisine, Hamamatsu gyoza, and famously high-quality green tea.

    • Kansai (関西) is a region that includes Mie, Nara, Wakayama, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, and Shiga Prefectures. Kansai contained Japan's ancient capital for hundreds of years, and it's making a comeback as one of the most popular parts of Japan. Kyoto's temples and shrines, Osaka Castle, and the deer of Nara are all considered must-sees. Plus, the people of Kansai are especially friendly, making it a fun place to hang out.

    • Kyoto flourished as the capital of Japan between the years 794 and 1100, becoming a center for poilitics and culture, and to this day it's a great place for close encounters with Japanese history. The cobbled streets of Gion, the atmospheric road to Kiyomizudera Temple, Kinkakuji's golden walls and countless historic attractions, even Arashiyama's Togetsukyo Bridge―Kyoto is a place of many attractions. With new charms to experience throughout the seasons, travelers can't stop themselves from returning again and again.

    • Nara Prefecture's important history reaches back to 710, a time now called the Nara era, when it was once capital of Japan. Called "Heijo-kyo" during its time as a capital, it's said that nara was once the end of the silk road, leading it to flourish as a uniquely international region and produce important cultural properties of all kinds. To make the most of each season, travelers head to Nara Park, where the Nara deer who wander freely, or climb Mount Yoshino, a famous cherry blossom spot.

    • Osaka is known for friendly (and funny) people, but its history is nothing to laugh at, playing a major part in Toyotomi Hideyoshi's 16th century unification of Japan. Thanks to long years of economic activity, it's one of Japan's biggest cities, and Osaka's popular food culture earned it the nickname "The Kitchen of the Nation." To this day Osaka is the model of western Japan, and alongside historic structures like Osaka Castle, it also has major shopping malls like Umeda's Grand Front Osaka and Tennoji's Abeno Harukas. Osaka is a place to eat, eat, eat, with local specialties like takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and kushi-katsu, and for extra fun, it's home to Universal Studios Japan.

    • CHUGOKU

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      The Chugoku Region (中国地方) consists of five prefectures: Hiroshima, Okayama, Shimane, Tottori, and Yamaguchi. In Chugoku you’ll find the sand dunes of Tottori, and Hiroshima’s atomic bomb site, plus centers of ancient history like Grand Shrine of Izumo.

    • HIROSHIMA

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      Hiroshima Prefecture has everything, from world heritage sites to beautiful nature and delicious local cuisine, and it's either an hour and a half from Tokyo by plane, or four hours by train. Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island and the Atomic Bomb Dome, two Hiroshima UNESCO sites, are famous around the world, but in Japan it's also famous for food. Seafood from the Seto Inland Sea, especially oysters, Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, and Setouchi lemons are all popular, and the natural scenery alone is worth seeing.

    • SHIKOKU

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      On the other side of the Seto Inland Sea opposite Japan’s main island, Shikoku (四国) is a region made up of four prefectures: Ehime, Kagawa, Kochi, and Tokushima. The area is famous for its udon (in Kagawa), and the beautiful Dogo Onsen hot springs (in Ehime).

    • Kagawa Prefecture is on the northern part of the island of Shikoku, facing Japan's main island and the Seto Inland Sea. It's known for being the smallest prefecture in Japan, by area, but at the same time Kagawa is called the "Udon Prefecture" thanks to its famous sanuki udon. Aside from Kotohiragu Shrine and Ritsurin Garden, the prefecture's small islands are popular, and Kagawa is full of unique destinations, like Angel Road. They say that if you lay eyes on Zenigata Sunae, a huge Kagawa sand painting, you'll never have money troubles ever again.

    • Located in the most southwestern part of Japan, Kyushu (九州) is an island of 7 prefectures: Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Oita, Miyazaki, and Kagoshima. The island's unique culture has been influenced by Chinese and Dutch trade, along with missionaries coming in through Nagasaki's port. Modern-day travelers love the lush natural scenery and fresh food, plus the natural hot springs found all throughout the area (thanks to volcanic activity)!

    • FUKUOKA

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      Fukuoka Prefecture has the highest population on the southern island of Kyushu, with two major cities: Fukuoka and Kitakyushu. Thanks to growing transportation networks, Fukuoka is more accessible than ever, and so are the many local attractions. On top of historical spots like Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, travelers shouldn't miss Fukuoka's food scene, with motsu nabe (offal hotpot), mentaiko (spicy cod roe), and famous Hakata ramen―best eaten from a food stall in the Nakasu area of Hakata. Plus, it's full of all sorts of destinations for travelers, like trendy shopping centers, and the beautiful nature of Itoshima and Yanagawa.

    • KAGOSHIMA

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      Kagoshima Prefecture played a major role in Japan's modernization as a backdrop for famous historical figures like samurais Saigo Takamori and Okubo Toshimichi, who pushed Japan out of the Edo era and into the Meiji. Because of that, Sengan-en Garden is just one of many historical destinations, and when it comes to attractions Kagoshima has plenty: the active volcano of Sakurajima, popular hot springs Ibusuki Onsen and Kirishima Onsen, World Heritage Site Yakushima Island, even what Japan calls the "island closest to heaven," Amami Oshima. Kagoshima might be found on the very southernmost tip of the southern island of Kyushu, but there's plenty to see.

    • OKINAWA

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      The island chain of Okinawa (沖縄) makes up the southernmost tip of Japan, which is why it's also the most tropical area in the country. Thanks to a history of independence and totally distinct political and cultural events, Okinawa has a unique culture, and remnants of the Ryukyu Kingdom are still visible all over the islands. Food, language, traditional dress, it's all a little different! It's also said to be the birthplace of karate.

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