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Why Lake Chuzenji is special ?
Lake Chuzenji (中禅寺湖, Chūzenjiko) is a scenic lake in the mountains above the town of Nikko. It is located at the foot of Mount Nantai, Nikko's sacred volcano, whose eruption blocked the valley below, thereby creating Lake Chuzenji about 20,000 years ago.
Chuzenjiko' shores are mostly undeveloped and forested except at the lake's eastern end where the small hot spring town of Chuzenjiko Onsen was built. The town is also the site of Kegon Waterfall, the most famous of several waterfalls in Nikko National Park. Another popular waterfall, Ryuzu Waterfall, is located at the northern shores of Lake Chuzenji where Yukawa River discharges into the lake.
Chuzenjiko is especially beautiful in mid to late October, when the autumn colors reach their peak along the lake's shores and surrounding mountains. And during Japan's hot summers, the lake's high elevation (1269 meters above sea level) keeps the area cool and comfortable, which in the past has attracted foreign embassies to build recreation villas along its shores.
It is possible to hike around the entire 25 kilometer circumference of Lake Chuzenji via hilly lakeside walking trails. Alternatively, the lake can be enjoyed from sightseeing boats that depart from Chuzenjiko Onsen. Panoramic views from above are possible from along the Chuzenjiko Skyline, an eight kilometer long former toll road which can now be used free of charge.
What to explore at Lake Chuzenji?
Lake Chuzenji is a lake located about 11 km east of central Nikko.
It is about 7 km from east to west in length, and the width is about 2 km.
The lake is about at the level of 1,269 meters. It is the highest lake as more than 4 sq km of lakes in Japan.
There is 2,486-meter-high Mount Nantai to the north-northeast of the lake.
About 20 thousand ago, this lake was formed by damming many rivers after eruption of Mount Nantai.
From the eastern end, Daiya River flows out, and there is Kegon Falls within a short distance. Then the river flows to the east, and runs near Rinnoji.
To the northwest, Senjogahara marsh spreads. Yukawa River through Senjogahara flows into this lake.
The main town is on the eastern lakeside near Kegon Falls, and there are some hotels.
Some pleasure boats on the lake leave from here.
To the west of the town, there is "Futarasan-jinja Chukushi" which is one of the off-site shrines of Futarasan shrine.
And to the south of the town, there is "Chuzenji temple" which is a branch temple of Rinnoji temple and was founded in 784 by high priest Shodo. The statue of the Goddess of Kannon in main hall is called "Tachiki-Kannon".
How to get to Lake Chuzenji?
You can reach Chūzenji by bus from Nikkō (50 min, ￥1100). Buses leave from the Tōbu Nikkō station, or from the bus stop near the Nikkō Museum, on the main road just outside the Tōshōgu. Yumoto Onsen is another 30 min by bus from Chūzenji Onsen (￥840).
There are about 3 buses per hour. They are bound for Chūzenji Onsen or Yumoto Onsen and pass through the very scenic Irohazaka road.
If you are coming from Tokyo and planning to stay more than one day, you should consider buying the Nikkō Mini Free Pass (valid for 2 days, ￥4,940) or Nikkō-Kinugawa Free Pass (valid for 4 days, ￥5,740), which entitles you to travel from Tokyo to Nikkō (on the Nikkō Tōbu line), on all buses between Nikkō, Chuzenji, Ryuzu Falls, Yumoto Onsen, Kunigawa, Kirifuri Plateau and Lake Ikari-ko, and gives you discounts on some attraction such as the cablecar in Chūzenji and Nikkō Museum.
The pass can be purchased at any Tōbu station in Tokyo, Kanagawa or Saitama prefectures. For most tourists, the most convenient place is at Tōbu Asakusa station.
- On clear day stunning view of the lake
- Really nice on a Sunny day
- Looks like a mirror
- Very nice autumn travel spot
- Hiking around this lake is a must
Lake Chūzenji Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture Japan
In the morning the lake reflected morning sunshine and we had clear view of the lake. On the way back from Yuomoto hot spring I walked back to Lake Chuzenji bus station from the Ryuzu fall around the part of the lake – around 35-45 minutes. I Had a nice view again but after while the walk started to be boring as you could see the same scenery and bank of the lake too - some cottages or boats. Beginning of April this trail without snow but other parts still covered by snow.