Attraction 第一いろは坂, Japan, 〒321-1661 Tochigi Prefecture, Nikko, Chūgūshi, 中宮祠 Published on: 27-02-2016
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Why Irohazaka Route is special ?
Irohazaka Route, respectively built in 1954 and 1965, this pair of winding roads near central Nikko have 48 hairpin bends – one for each letter of the Japanese alphabet. This also explains the name; I-ro-ha are the first three letters of the old Japanese alphabet (the modern one begins with a-i-u) and zaka, which means slope. The curvy, super steep pair of roads are one way up and down the mountain. From October the forest surrounding the road turns into a rich sea of gold, red and brown, a time when many people visit the mountains to enjoy the autumnal hues.
What to explore at Irohazaka Route?
The foot of Iroha-zaka is at an elevation of about 830 meters. The distance from Nikko station to there is about 10 km. Iroha-zaka road leads from there to Lake Chuzenji located at the level of about 1,270 meters within only a distance of about 3 km by airline distance. (The length of the road is about 7-8 km.)
The upslope road and the downslope road are separated. The former has 20 hairpin curves, and the latter has 28 ones. In the 11th century, somebody composed a poem using all 48 characters with no overlaps. All Japanese people know the poem, and the first 3 sounds are "i-ro-ha". Iroha-zaka has 48 hairpin curves, so such name has been given. At each curve, a character is displayed in order of the sounds in the poem. There is Akechidaira rest area about 2 km from the end of upslope road. You can go to Akechidaira Observatory by ropeway.
From the observatory, you can see Kegon Falls, Lake Chuzenji and the mountains in Nikko area. Along the downslope road, we can see a few waterfalls such as "Hoto Waterfall" and "Han'nya Waterfall" and a rocky cliff "Byobu-iwa".
How to get to Irohazaka Route?
By route bus or car
Buses and cars surely pass this road between Nikko city and Lake Chuzenji, Kegon Waterfall.
- Get a motorbike to ride around
- Can see Kegon Falls
- One for each letter of the Japanese alphabet
- Enjoy the autumnal hues
- Winding roads near central Nikko
第一いろは坂, Japan, 〒321-1661 Tochigi Prefecture, Nikko, Chūgūshi, 中宮祠
Tips for you
Get a bike and ride it. Awesome hairpin curves. I am quite a motorbike enthusiast and after a few research about Nikko, found out about irohazaka. We decided to rent a bike for a day and got a CB400 and a W800. Its a 1 way route up and down at another. So, minus the incoming vehicles from the equation, the route is quite "safe". At the start of the hairpin curves, when it starts to be a 1 way route, its takes about 10 minutes to go up. At the top the 2 main attractions are the lake chuzenji and the kegon falls, just less than 5 minutes apart. It then take about 10 minutes for the route down as well. Be extra careful on your way down. The hairpin curves is more sharper than the route up. If you want to experience irohazaka, Go get a bike. :)