Oze National Park Travel Guide: Discover Hiking Trails and the Nature of Oze, Fukushima + Learn How to Get to Oze National Park From Tokyo!
The Skunk Cabbage of Oze National Park in 2022: Video Introduction
This video, titled "The Skunk Cabbage of Oze Marsh, 2022｜A Skunk Cabbage Colony in the Shimono Ohori River" (2022 尾瀬の水芭蕉 尾瀬ヶ原 下の大堀川ミズバショウ群生地), was uploaded by "Northen Japanese Alps Nature Video."
The bright landscape of Oze National Park, introduced in the nine minutes of video, is as beautiful as an impressionist painting.
In the video, taken on May 29th, 2022, you can see there is some snow left on the surface of Mt. Shibutsu (至仏山, Shibutsuzan) and the majestic mountain can be seen towering against the blue sky.
Fully bloomed skunk cabbages sway in the wind on the vast marshland at the foot of Mt. Shibutsu. The abundance of water in Oze National Park is also home to frogs and other creatures and you can even hear frogs, a sound you won't hear in the cities.
Walking along the boardwalk of Oze Marsh (尾瀬ケ原, Ozegahara) while listening to the bubbling of the Shimono Ohori River (下ノ大堀川 Shimono Ohori River) is therapeutic.
Oze, a Place Whose Beauty is Sung About in Traditional Japanese Songs
Photo：Oze National Park
The beauty of Oze is no secret to the people of Japan, and it has even been featured in traditional Japanese songs dating back to the 1940s. But for those of us not familiar with Oze, here's a quick introduction.
Oze is a plateau that straddles the four prefectures of Fukushima, Niigata, Gunma, and Tochigi. Oze is a basin surrounded by 2000-meter-tall mountains, such as Mt.Shibutsu (至仏山, Shibtsusan), Hiuchigatake (燧ヶ岳, Hiuchigatake), Mt. Keizuru (景鶴山, Keizuruyama), and Mt. Nakahara (中原山, Nakaharayama).
The marshland centering on Oze Marsh, which is said to have been formed around 10,000 years ago, was designated as Oze National Park (尾瀬国立公園 Oze Kokuritsu Koen) in 2007 and as such, the terms "Oze" and "Oze National Park" are synonymous with one another. Oze National Park is a major scenic spot that has been selected as one of the Top 100 Views of Japan.
Other than the marshland of Oze Marsh, many ponds and swamps can be seen on the nearby mountainsides. After the snow melts in May, all the plants and trees bloom at once. There are boardwalks and benches as well, so visitors can enjoy a refreshing walk while taking in all of the natural scenery.
The Skunk Cabbage of Oze National Park – A Treat for the Eyes
Asian Skunk Cabbage is characterized by its large white petals, but these white petal-like things are not actually petals, rather, they are bracts, which are specialized leaves.
Skunk Cabbage is called "Mizubasho" in Japanese (水芭蕉, lit. 'Water Banana'). The name comes from the shape of its leaves, which resemble those of the Japanese banana plant, and from the fact that it grows near water. It's a perennial plant of the arum family that grows in mountainous marshlands, and its flowers are at their best from late May to mid-June in Japan.
Although bloom dates are dependent on the amount of snowfall each year, the best time to see skunk cabbage in Oze National Park is the same; late May to early June. In the first week of June especially, Oze National Park is crowded with tourists looking to see the clusters of skunk cabbage in bloom.
The Nature of Oze National Park & 2 Popular Hiking Courses in the Area
There are many hiking courses in Oze National Park, but the two most popular hiking courses are the Ozegahara Course and the Ozenuma Course. These two courses are recommended for first-time visitors to Oze National Park.
Incidentally, the hiking course introduced in the video is the Ozegahara Course.
This course circles Oze Marsh, the largest marshland on Japan's mainland. The boardwalk is well maintained, so even beginners can walk the course with ease.
Hatomachi Toge (鳩待峠, Hatomachitoge)→ Yamanohana Visitor Center (山ノ花, Yamanohana)→ Kamino - Ohori River (上ノ大堀川, Kamino Ohori Kawa)→ Ushikubi (牛首, Ushikubi)→ Miharashi (見晴, Miharashi)→ Ryugu Hut (龍宮小屋, Ryugu Goya) (Overnight stay).
※If you're visiting on a day trip, turn back at Kamino - Ohori River or Ushikubi.
Ryugu Hut→ Miharashi→ Akatashiro Branch (Akadashiro Bunki)→ Yoppi Suspension Bridge (ヨッピ吊橋 Yoppi Tsuribashi)→ Ushikubi→ Yamanohana Visitor Center→ Hatomachi Toge
[Video] 1:28 - Walkers on a Well-Maintained Wooden Path
Photo：Oze Marsh and Hiuchigatake
This is a hiking course around Lake Ozenuma and it's the course with the least amount of inclines and declines.
Although this course can be hiked on a day trip, it's recommended that you stay overnight at a lodge. Lake Ozenuma at sunset with the stars in the night sky makes for an unforgettable experience.
The Numayama Pass Observation Deck (沼山峠展望台, Numayama Toge Tenboudai) is located at the end of a conifer forest uphill from the Oze Numayama Pass bus stop. Here you can enjoy a panoramic view of Lake Ozenuma.
On the first day, go to Sanpeishita (三平下) via the east bank of Lake Ozenuma. From Sanpeishita, you can see Hiuchigatake (燧ヶ岳, Hiuchigatake) and Lake Ozenuma, making it a popular vantage point.
On the second day, start from the south bank of Lake Ozenuma to Numajiri (沼尻, Numajiri). Numajiri is also a beautiful place with ponds and in spring and summer, you can see pygmy water-lilies and Japanese thistle. After passing through the north bank of Oze Marsh, return to Numayama Pass.
Numayama Pass→ Ozenuma Villa (Overnight stay)
Ozenuma Villa→ Numajiri→ Oze Marsh→ Numayama Pass
Hotels, Hot Springs, and Where to Eat Near Oze National Park
Photo：The Hatomachi Toge Rest Area
The Hatomachi Toge Rest Area is located at Hatomachi Toge, the starting point of Ozegahara in Gunma Prefecture. Many tourists use this spot to prepare before hiking and to eat. The Hanamame Soft Cream ice cream is also popular.
For visitors to Oze National Park, we recommend the Sky Terrace (天空テラス, Tenku Terasu) located 2,000 meters above sea level and the free Foot Bath in the Sky (天空の足湯, Tenku no Ashiyu). It takes about 15 minutes by the Nikko Shiranesan Ropeway (日光白根山 Nikko-Shirane San) to reach the summit station. Located on the border with Nikko, Tochigi, you can relax while enjoying a view of Mt. Nikko-Shirane.
At Oze Katashina, a roadside station in Tone, Gunma Prefecture, visitors can enjoy direct sales of fresh highland vegetables from Katashina Village (片品村, Katashina Mura), as well as delicious meals prepared using locally grown vegetables at Katashina Diner (かたしな食堂, Katashina Shokudo)" and "Village People's Kitchen (村民キッチン, Sonmin Kicchin)."
If you are considering staying near Oze National Park, Oze Hut (尾瀬小屋 Oze Koya) is another great spot we recommend. Despite the name of "hut," it's clean and has excellent facilities, such as the Oze Hut Terrace (尾瀬小屋テラス Oze Koya Terasu), which is open to outside visitors, as well as hot springs. The food is so good that it's hard to believe that it's located in the middle of Oze Marsh.
How to Get To Oze National Park From Tokyo
From Tokyo there are several ways to get to Oze National Park and there are also several different trailheads to enter the park from. From Tokyo, the easiest entry to the park via public transportation is the Hatomachi Toge trailhead.
Tokyo Station to Oze National Park: Hatomachi Toge Trailhead
From Tokyo Station, take the Joetsu Shinkansen to Jomokogen Station (1 hr. 10 mins), from Jomokogen Station, take a Kan'etsu Bus to Numata Station (25 mins), from Numata Station, take a Kan'etsu Bus to Togura Station (1 hr. 15 mins), and from Togura, once more take a Kan'etsu Bus to Hatomachi Toge (35 mins). In total it will take approximately 4 hours to reach the Hatomachi Toge trailhead from Tokyo Station.
Keep in mind that this is just one route and there are many different trailheads with which to start a hike in Oze National Park.
Summary of Oze National Park's Charming Skunk Cabbage
Oze National Park is the largest high-altitude marshland on Japan's mainland, and straddles the four prefectures of Fukushima, Niigata, Gunma, and Tochigi.
Because of its vast geographical area, you can enjoy the nature of Oze with both hiking and overnight stays.
When the short summer comes, various flowers bloom in Oze National Park. From late May to June in particular, when skunk cabbages, the representative flower of Oze National Park, are in bloom, many people visit Oze National Park to see the beautiful scenery.
We hope this article can help you enjoy your trip to Oze National Park. Be sure to follow the hiking courses introduced above if you visit!
【Trip Advisor】Oze Marsh