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The Shoryudo Nature Route

The Shoryudo Nature Route

 

Discover the true diversity of Japan’s outdoors with the Shoryudo Nature Route. Your trip begins in mountainous Nagano, the capital of the Chubu region, and concludes in the beachside town of Minamichita in Aichi.

 

En route you’ll experience the beauty of Biwako, Japan’s largest lake; the spectacular Tojinbo cliffs; one of the biggest Dinosaur museums in the world; a one-of-a-kind viewing of the moon from Unazuki Onsen; as well as numerous beautiful temples along this stunning, memorable alpine route through the heart of Japan.

 

Highlights

The sunset at Kohoku Mizudori
Nagara River cormorant fishing
Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
Day 1
 

2 hours 50 minutes

 
Ninjas, Shrines and Onsen

After a shinkansen from Tokyo, begin the Great Nature Route in Nagano City, a temple town that once hosted the Winter Olympic Games. It’s home to Zenko-ji, one of the most popular temples in Japan, where you can witness 7th Century Buddhist splendor. To the northwest lies Togakushi, a village located at the base of two volcanoes that sports beautiful shrines, the legendary Ninja school Togakure and several fascinating museums. A 70-minute bus ride later and you’re in Omachi Onsen village, ready to begin the Alpine Route on Day 2.

 
Zenkoji Temple

One of the few remaining pilgrimage sites in Japan, this 7th Century temple contains a statue of Binzuru, whom travelers touch to cure their medical woes.

 
Togakure Ninpo Museum

Showcasing tools, weapons and photographs of ninja techniques, the Ninpo Museum also contains the Ninja House, which has a maze and a shuriken (throwing star) range.

 
Togakushi Shrines

A 2-kilometre walking path leads from the entrance to two of these shrines, which celebrate the Sun Goddess’ return to the world after hiding in a cave.

 
Day 2
 

2 hours

 
The Alpine Route

Known as the Roof of Japan, the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is one of the most diverse and spectacular paths you can take in Japan.   Setting off from Omachi, the 90 km route includes travel by cable-car, ropeway, bus and train, as well as an unforgettable walk through the stunning snow corridor on the path from Murodo. It reaches an elevation of 2450m on the spectacular Mt Tateyama, and concludes at Tateyama Station where you head to Unazuki Onsen to bed down. Come prepared for a hike – warm and durable clothes are best. The route is typically open mid April to late November and closed from December to early April. These dates may vary from year to year.

 
Yuki-no-otani Snow Corridor

Between 7 and 20 metres of snowfall over the winter results in a terrific walk through the snow corridor. Sledding in April is highly recommended!

 
Kurobe Cruise Ship

The brilliant Lake Kurobe is best seen from the deck of a pleasure boat, which is an 11 km jaunt that lasts around half an hour.

 
Shomyo Falls

The highest waterfall in Japan, Shomyo Falls illustrates the change in biodiversity, which can be glimpsed simply by looking up and down the mountainside.

 
Day 3
 

2 hours 45 minutes

 
Mirages, Castles and Forests

A train from Unazuki will give you plenty of time to walk around the magical seaside city of Uozu—with its ancient castles, Buried Forest Museum and mirages across the water, often viewable from a number of locations. If possible, try the firefly squid too.   In the afternoon, take the train to Toyama and drink in its beautiful coastline, its historic castle and the marvellous Toyama gardens with over 5000 species of plants. Great nature! Today’s journey concludes further southwest at Awara Onsen, Fukui Prefecture – just an hour by train.

 
Buried Forest Museum

The first in the ‘city of three mysteries’, this intriguing museum contains preserved Japanese cedars from around 2500 years ago.

 
The Grand Mirage

Across Toyama Bay, locals often witness mirages caused by the climate in Spring and Winter—tourists can best see them from a few spots along the coast.

 
Toyama Castle Park

It may be a reconstruction but it’s pitch perfect, complete with an art museum, a history museum and, of course, cherry blossoms.

 
Day 4
 

1 hour 10 minutes

 
Dinosaurs and Sunsets

And it’s on to Fukui, the capital city of Fukui prefecture. Fukui boasts many treasures in its surrounding forested hills, including the terrific Dinosaur Museum and Dinosaur Forest Park. But don’t miss the dramatic Tojinbo Cliffs, carved out by the Sea of Japan over thousands of years – both inspiring and forbidding. Next, a train to Nagahama in time to watch the sunset over Lake Biwa at Kohoku-cho is essential. This little city has plenty to offer in the form of squares, its eponymous castle and lots of delicious cuisine. Take your time here!

 
Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum

One of the best dinosaur museums in the world, this four-floor attraction has 40 complete skeletons on display and excavation activities.

 
Tojinbo

The ancient and picturesque cliffs along the sea of Japan are a terrific example of the drama of the Japanese coastline.

 
Kohoku Mizudori Station

Located inside a gorgeous water bird park, the view of the sunset over the lake has been called one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world.

Image Credit: © Biwako Visitors Bureau

 
Day 5
 

2 hours 30 minutes

 
From Lake Biwa to Gifu

A morning turn on the ancient Lake Biwa (via a Chikubushima Cruise) can be followed up with the train journey to Yoro, a town where legend has it that the water tastes like sake. Find out for yourself at Yoro Falls and the utterly unique artistic concept park ‘Yoro Tenmei Hantenchi’ – the Site of Reversible Destiny. Afterward, head by rail to Gifu where a bicycle hire would be well worth it. There’s the squirrel park and the castle, but the big attraction is the traditional cormorant fishing on the Nagara river lit by fire lanterns.

 
Yoro Falls

One of the prettiest waterfalls in Japan, in springtime it is surrounded by thousands of cherry trees which blossom yellow, orange and red.

 
Nagara River cormorant fishing

This method of fishing, known as Ukai, has over 1300 years of history, and can be seen as a beautifully choreographed dance between man and nature.

 
Yoro Tenmei Hantenchi

An offbeat, surreal theme park born of a collaboration between an artist/architect and a poet. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a work of art.

 
Day 6
 

2 hours 45 minutes

 
Nagoya, Minamichita and Beyond

From Gifu, the final day begins after a train to Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture. Here, the most appropriate place to begin might be the SCMAGLEV and Railway Park, after which could come Noritake Garden and its accompanying museum.   A train to Minamichita on the southern tip of the peninsula concludes the 6-day itinerary in maritime style, with fruit picking, seine fishing and more before watching the sunset over Ise Bay from Shinojima Island. Your Shoryodo journey is complete. The final step, of course, is Chubu Centrair Airport!

 
Noritake Garden

Noritake produce beautiful ceramics and tableware, and both their museum and gardens are very worthwhile and relaxing contributions to the last day of the trip.

 
Minamichita Strawberry no Sato

One of several farms open to tourists, Strawberry no Sato lets you pick the sweet Akihime variety of strawberries renowned in the region. A joy!

 
Shinojima Island

Famous for its seafood, its natural beauty and its sunsets, Shinojima Island is easily accessible from Minamichita Town and a perfect way to round off the trip.