The Four Best Ways to See the Best of Nikko’s Autumn Colors

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September 28, 2016

Nikko in autumn: mountainsides awash in swathes of red and gold frame serene lakes, majestic waterfalls, and misty mornings. It is beautiful. It is transcendent. It is surprisingly accessible.

Here are some of the best ways to see the best of Nikko’s fall colors.

By Car

The Irohazaka Winding Road and Nihon Romantic Highway are ideal for those with access to a car. The Irohazaka climbs from Nikko Town to Chuzenji-onsen Town via many switchbacks, which provide awesome views along the way. Start at either train station in Nikko Town and drive north along Route 119, which turns into Route 120 as you head west. Take the turn off for Irohazaka and follow the lake shore west along the Nihon Romantic Highway for spectacular views.

By Bus

For those who wish to leave the driving to others, TOBU's bus service offers easy, reliable service to all the major tourist points in Nikko, including Lake Chuzenji and Kegon Falls. Visit for information regarding routes (including one from Tokyo Marunouchi Station) or call the Hato Bus Hamamatsucho Office at +81-3-3435-6081 between 9:00 and 6:30 p.m.

By Boat

To see the most of the unspoilt mountains that surround Lake Chuzenji, try the hour-long boat excursion from Chuzenji pier and travel on a leisurely course around the lake. For tickets and inquiries, visit or call +81-288-55-0360.

By Cablecar

Not for those with a fear of heights, the Akechidaira Ropeway takes visitors from Lake Chuzenji to an elevated observation platform. In addition to spectacular views of Kegon Falls, the lake, and the mountains throughout the three-minute ride, the platform itself boasts 360-degree views. Visit or call +81-28-55-0331 for the best times to go.

Each option listed above boasts spectacular access to Nikko’s fall foliage, so choose the one that best suits your needs and have a beautiful trip.

Joel Neff

Joel studied Communication at Northern Arizona University way back in the 90s and has spent the past twenty years trying to figure out what to do next. So far that has included working as a photographer, teacher, writer, editor, game maker, and dog walker. He still doesn't know what's next.

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