Japan Romantic Road (Nagano) 日本ロマンチック街道
The best way to explore scenic Japan by car
This 320-kilometer route rolls through incredible scenery, famous onsen (hot spring) towns, and on to the astounding World Heritage sites of Nikko .
How to Get There
From Tokyo Station, getting to Ueda is simple with the Hokuriku Shinkansen taking you there in about an hour and a half.
Explore the landscapes of central Japan
The Japan Romantic Road was modeled after its German namesake. Like the European one, Japan's is a themed road conceptualized to add a little spice to the drive through a wide swath of countryside. The route passes through mountainous Nagano, Gunma , and Tochigi Prefectures. Take the trip slowly and explore this fantastic part of Japan at your own pace.
Plenty of places to stop
Ueda is a great location to start your tour. Make sure to visit Ueda Castle and stop in for a soak at Bessho Onsen while in town. From there you'll pass through Komoro and then Miyota with its historic Shinraku Temple. Next along the line is Karuizawa , where you should stop to wander the historic shopping street, the Kyu-Karuiazawa Ginza . You'll soon be in Gunma Prefecture . Stop to view the volcanic formations of Onisohidashi with fantastic views of volcanic Mt. Asama .
The romantic road
The romance of the road will be palpable as it brings you through the famous Kusatsu Onsen , Shima Onsen , and Oigami Onsen in Gifu before getting to Tochigi and Nikko National Park. There are lots of hiking trails there if you want to stretch your legs. Finally, you'll arrive at Nikko , one of the real wonders of Japan, with its stunning shrines, temples, and amazing heritage.
Pick the warmer seasons
Try and drive the Japan Romantic Road in the warmer seasons, as certain mountain passes in Gunma are closed during the winter.