Roam a rich natural preserve of virgin forests, lakes, and hot springs
The Okuoi region is a hidden gem in Shizuoka, japan. Nestled in the northern part of the prefecture, this outback territory is a pristine prefectural national park guarded by mountains that reach up to 2,000 meters high. It is a place where urbanization will never touch, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the untouched beauty of nature.
One of the highlights of the Okuoi region is its abundance of natural wonders. The Oi River, which flows into Suruga Bay, runs through here, offering breathtaking views of crystal-clear waters and lush greenery. Lake Ikawa and Lake Hatanagi are also popular attractions in the area, especially during the peak autumn season when the surrounding forests are adorned with vibrant hues of red, orange, and yellow. Visitors can enjoy leisurely walks along the lakeshores or take a boat ride to fully appreciate the serene beauty of these natural wonders.
For those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation, the Okuoi region is home to several onsen areas tucked into the valleys. These hot springs are known for their healing properties and offer a tranquil oasis amidst the natural surroundings. One of the notable onsen areas is Sesso-kyo Onsen, located between the Ikawa Dam and Nagashima Dam. Here, visitors can soak in the warm, mineral-rich waters while enjoying panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and forests. Sumata-kyo Onsen, situated in the Sumata Valley, is another popular choice and is renowned for its beautifying properties.
In addition to its natural beauty, the Okuoi region also offers various outdoor activities for adventure enthusiasts. One of the recommended experiences is riding the steam locomotive from Kanaya Station to Senzu, the entrance to the Okuoi area. This nostalgic train ride takes passengers through picturesque landscapes, including tea fields and quaint villages, offering a unique way to explore the region.
Hiking is another popular activity in Okuoi, thanks to its pristine virgin forests and breathtaking gorges. The “Love Romance Road” trail is a must-visit for hiking enthusiasts. Starting at Sessokyo Onsen Station, the trail follows the Oi River upstream, offering stunning views of the river and surrounding cliffs. One of the highlights of the trail is the Minami Alps Sesso Great Suspension Bridge, a 240-meter-long bridge suspended 13 meters above the water’s surface. It is the largest of eight suspension bridges along the trail and provides an exhilarating experience for hikers. The trail ends in the village of Umeji, where visitors can catch a train back to Senzu Station.
To reach the Okuoi region, travelers can take the Tokaido Shinkansen from Tokyo to Shizuoka Station, which takes approximately an hour. From there, it is another 30-minute train ride to Kanaya Station via the JR Tokaido Line. Finally, travelers can hop on the Oigawa Line, which takes around one hour and ten minutes to reach Senzu Station. Alternatively, for those coming from Shin-Osaka Station, the journey to Shizuoka Station takes approximately two hours by shinkansen.
When planning a visit to the Okuoi region, it is essential to note some key facts. Kakegawa, a nearby town, was both a post station and a castle town along the old Tokaido route. It offers a glimpse into the Edo period with its authentic atmosphere and well-preserved historical sites. The Ikawa Line, which runs through the region, is Japan’s only alternate biting tooth (ABT) rail system, adding a touch of uniqueness to the transportation experience. Additionally, the Alps Sesso Great Suspension Bridge, located along the “Love Romance Road” trail, marks the starting point of a hiking course that is aptly named after the bridge.
Aside from exploring the natural and cultural attractions, visitors to the Okuoi region can also indulge in the local cuisine and traditional crafts. The region is known for its fresh seafood, particularly the Suruga Bay’s bounty, which includes a variety of fish, shellfish, and seaweed. It is highly recommended to try dishes such as sashimi, sushi, and grilled fish prepared with locally sourced ingredients. For those interested in traditional crafts, Kakegawa offers opportunities to learn about and experience activities such as tea ceremony, calligraphy, and pottery, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the local culture.
Accommodation options in the Okuoi region range from traditional ryokans (Japanese inns) to modern hotels, ensuring that visitors can find a suitable place to stay based on their preferences and budget. Staying at a ryokan offers a unique cultural experience, allowing guests to sleep on futons, soak in hot springs, and savor traditional kaiseki meals. On the other hand, modern hotels provide comfort and convenience, often featuring amenities such as on-site restaurants, spas, and Wi-Fi access.
In conclusion, the Okuoi region in Shizuoka, Japan, is a haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Its untouched landscapes, including virgin forests, lakes, and hot springs, offer a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and reconnect with nature. Whether it’s hiking along scenic trails, soaking in hot springs, or indulging in local cuisine, the Okuoi region has something to offer for every traveler. So, pack your bags and embark on a journey to this hidden paradise in Shizuoka.
Address And Maps Location:
Kawanehon, Haibara-gun, Shizuoka-ken