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The best way to explore scenic Japan by car is by taking the Japan Romantic Road, a 320-kilometer route that offers incredible scenery, famous onsen towns, and access to the World Heritage sites of Nikko.
To embark on this road trip, you will need a car. The journey starts from Ueda in Nagano Prefecture and takes you all the way to Nikko in Tochigi Prefecture. The starting point of Ueda is easily accessible from Tokyo Station, with the Hokuriku Shinkansen taking you there in about an hour and a half.
The Japan Romantic Road was inspired by its German namesake and is designed to add a touch of excitement and adventure to your drive through the picturesque countryside of central Japan. The route takes you through the mountainous regions of Nagano, Gunma, and Tochigi Prefectures, allowing you to explore this fantastic part of Japan at your own pace.
There are plenty of interesting places to stop along the way. Ueda is a great starting point, where you can visit Ueda Castle and enjoy a relaxing soak at Bessho Onsen. As you continue your journey, you’ll pass through Komoro and Miyota, which is home to the historic Shinraku Temple. Next on the route is Karuizawa, known for its historic shopping street, Kyu-Karuizawa Ginza. Gunma Prefecture offers a chance to view the volcanic formations of Onioshidashi, with stunning views of volcanic Mt. Asama.
The road is truly romantic, taking you through famous onsen towns like Kusatsu Onsen, Shima Onsen, and Oigami Onsen in Gunma. These hot spring towns are perfect for a relaxing break during your road trip. Finally, you’ll reach Nikko National Park, where you can explore hiking trails and visit the stunning shrines and temples that make Nikko one of Japan’s most incredible destinations.
It is recommended to undertake this road trip during the warmer seasons, as certain mountain passes in Gunma may be closed during the winter. It’s important to check the official website for the latest information, as conditions can change due to factors like weather and COVID-19.
The Japan Romantic Road offers a unique and unforgettable way to explore the scenic beauty of Japan. Whether you’re a nature lover, history enthusiast, or simply someone who enjoys the freedom of the open road, this road trip will provide you with incredible experiences and memories that will last a lifetime. So, grab your car keys, hit the road, and embark on an adventure through the breathtaking landscapes of central Japan.
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