We’ll make a memorable camping tour for you to experience the nature of Japan. In such an atmosphere, you will feel an inexplicable sense of awe. The quiet environment in the sunlight mountain forest, the tall trees that can found everywhere, the overlapping shades of green raise your eyes. You encounter clusters of red leaves and pink flowers with a glimpse of it... Everything just right to blend nature and humanity, let People have a more concrete and realistic understanding of ancient and remote. Welcome to Nikko!
Suppose you are starting a trip from the Tokyo area, why not try the freedom of a campervan and explore the nature of Japan freely with your family and friends. There are several popular destinations near Tokyo, but we highly recommend visiting Northern Kanto and taking in Nikko, in Tochigi Prefecture. Nikko is a registered world heritage site and is one of Japan’s most popular outdoor destinations, making this a perfect destination for a campervan trip.
Nikko City is located in the northwestern part of Tochigi Prefecture. The main scenic spots are divided into Nikko Mountain, where many historical sites are concentrated, and Kinugawa, which is famous for its natural scenery. Nikko has been known as the "mountain of worship" since the Kamakura period. During the Edo period, Ieyasu Tokugawa built the sacred temple Toshogu, which made it the peak of worship. From the Meiji period to the present, it has become a tourist attraction such as Lake Chuzenji, Kinugawa, and Yumoto Onsen.
There are many highlights on a trip to Northern Kanto, and we have laid out a sample itinerary to help get you started. This trip runs through both Tochigi and Gunma Prefectures. We recommend driving up to "Nikko Toshogu" and "Kegon waterfall" near the Chuzenji-lake for some fantastic sights on the first day. In Nikko Toshogu, there is an ancient mausoleum constructed here for the Japanese hero Leyasu Tokugawa. There are many fascinating buildings with Youmeimon as the best known. The beautiful and intricate architecture is designed to be seen from every angle. Kegon Waterfall is listed as one of Japan's three most famous waterfalls, so this is certainly not to miss. The waterfalls over 97 meters from Chuzenji Lake. You may choose the nearby Shobugahama campsite in Chuzenji-lake for easy access to both attractions with your campervan. Simply exploring and resting nearby Chuzenji-lake is also a great way to spend some time.
For the second day on the plan, we recommend Senjogahara. The name Senjogahara comes from the war of Gods whose battleground created these marshy areas in the past. Nowadays, there are many famous roads for hiking in this area to get around quickly and spend a day in the marshlands. This area is very famous for its diverse vegetation and animal populations living in the area. Visitors here can genuinely feel the power of life in the Nikko area.
Continuing the second day or moving into the third day, we recommend driving over to the nearby Akagi mountains. The mountains here are famous for the beautiful mountain lake "Onuma Lake" located at the hill's summit. The famous Akagi shrine is near the lake, which houses the Akagi Goddess of the lake. She will grant a wish for all women who visit.
Pick up at Tsuruoka Station or Shonai Airport in the late morning or early afternoon (flexible). We will then make our way over to the Kita Gassanso Lodge on Mt. Gassan, where we will drop off our luggage and check into our rooms.
We will meet our mountain guides, who will give us a briefing on the mushroom harvest hike. They will instruct participants on the types of mushrooms found during our hike, identify them, and other essential logistics. Rest assured, as the guides will be accompanying us to provide full support and the excursion.
They will also help us lookout for environments that may even have scarce matsutake mushrooms!
After hiking through forests, along rivers, and in open fields, we will then take our harvest back to the Kitta Gassanso Lodge for a cooking class led by locals from the nearby villages. We will learn how to prepare the various types of mushrooms we gathered and prepare them in multiple ways, including tempura, hotpot, miso soup, pizza, pasta, and more!
It's then to enjoy a night feast together in the lodge with a fantastic view of the surrounding mountains and rivers.
Following dinner, guests will get to soak in an onsen bath in the lodge and unwind after the eventful day.
(Optional) A relaxing night hike to a waterfall nearby the lodge!
Waking up early in the morning for breakfast, we will make our way over to Mt. Haguro for a hike along its ancient stone trail that winds through a towering cedar forest. This sacred mountain full of Shinto and Buddhist shrines, statues, and a massive five-story pagoda. It is part of the rich history of mountain worship that dates back over 2,000 years ago.
Along our hike, we will introduce the rich history of this mountain and an introductory lesson about the Yamabushi monks that still train on this mountain to this day.
Reaching the peak of Mt. Haguro, we will make offerings at the temple and make our way back down the mountain for lunch.
After finishing our hike, we will drive to Gyokusenji Temple. We will enjoy a traditional tea ceremony experience next to a beautiful Japanese garden that has been designated as a national treasure of Japan.
We will then travel to Sakata's neighboring port city for dinner and check into our lodging for the night.
(Optional) Take a stroll around Sakata City and visit the historic Sankyo Soko Rice Warehouses, which are beautifully illuminated at night!
The third day of our tour will be about experiencing the unique and rich culture of the Shonai Region and its deep ties to the sea trade with the rest of Japan.
We will begin our day with a visit to the Sanno Club Museum in downtown Sakata. We will learn how this region’s extensive trade with the rest of Japan shaped this region economically and culturally. We will also get to see many of the local crafts of Sakata, including kasafuku dolls which we will make with local craftswomen from the city.
Following this, we will walk over to Somaro Maiko Teahouse, where we will experience a stunning private performance by the beautiful maiko of the Shonai Region, along with a bento lunch in their home.
After exploring the rest of the home at Somaro, we will drive over to Sakata Station to catch the train or fly out of Shonai Airport.