Destinations

The Mountain Retreats of Aizu: Numajiri Kogen and Ashinomaki Onsen

Amy Shapiro

Amy Shapiro

The Aizu region of Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture is a year-round wonder, and a must-see destination for visitors looking to experience the best of Japan’s natural beauty, history, and culture.

Once in Aizu, it’s easy for tourists to destination-hop around the region’s glorious onsen, world-class ski destinations and stunning mountainscapes all while immersing themselves in the treasure trove of activities available like canoeing, bicycling, ice fishing, craft making, and samurai schools.

Lake Hibara

Weeping Cherry Trees, Nicchu Line Memorial Bicycle Pedestrian Path

Here are just some of the stunning locations where guests can station themselves while on their unforgettable journey into regional Japan.

Numajiri Kogen

Located in Bandai Asahi National Park, Numajiri Kogen Lodge is the ultimate mountaineers’ retreat.

The lodge was founded by Junko Tabei, the first woman to climb Mount Everest, and has even been visited by Sir Edmund Hillary –  one of the first people to have reached Everest’s summit.

Guests can enjoy the lodge’s spacious well-appointed rooms, a welcoming lounge and, of course, its magnificent onsen. Plus, mouth-watering, fresh local cuisine is featured daily at the restaurant.

The lodge is just a short drive away from the serene, little town of Nakanosawa Onsen. Nestled between the regional landmark Mount Bandai and the west foot of Mount Adatara, Nakanosawa is known for its arresting beauty.

Both Nakanosawa and Numajiri share a prised onsen source, which has the highest natural spring volume in Japan. And with its high acidity, the sulphur spring is well renowned for its restorative properties.

In fact, the source of Nakanosawa and  Numajiri is the only place in Japan where you can set out on an extreme onsen adventure known as “Noyu”, meaning “field bath”.

From the base in Bandai Asahi National Park, journeyers trek through the surreal, volcanic terrain of Mount Adatara to reach the source of Japan’s largest onsen river. It’s a hot spring experience like no other; high in the valley, in an open field surrounded by wild, rugged mountains.

In addition to the traditional (and extreme!) onsen, the sublime scenery of Aizu’s heartland, with its mountains, lakes and historic sites is a haven for those looking to switch off and reconnect with nature.

Known for the rejuvenating art of ‘forest bathing’ the region’s fresh forest air, the smell of the earth, and spray from nearby waterfalls creates the ultimate ecotherapy experience.

But fear not, adventure seekers! The lodge is also perfectly situated beside a run at Numajiri ski resort – a boutique resort great for skiing enthusiasts of all ages, including families with small children.

First opening in 1915, Numajiri Ski Resort claims to be Japan’s oldest ski area still in operation.

Ashinomaki Onsen

The historic Ashinomaki Onsen was first opened over a thousand years ago. A once hard-to-reach destination, Ashinokami has been called “Maboroshi no Onsenkyo” (fantom hot spring area).

Luckily for travellers, times have changed, and deluxe hot spring hotels in Ashinomaki, like Ookawaso, are less than an hour from the Aizu-Wakamatsu Station.

An all-year-round oasis, visitors can enjoy the lush greenery in spring, the refreshing Ookawa river in summer, the bold red and orange leaves in autumn, and a magical snowscape in winter.

Ookawaso serves traditional kaiseki dishes made from a selection of the finest seasonal ingredients. On occasion, the resort puts on a Mochitsuki show – pounding rice to make traditional rice cakes.

Plus, the Shamisen (a traditional stringed instrument) is performed from 4pm to 6pm every day!

Get moving!

Both Numajiri and Ashinomaki are easy to get to from Tokyo via Shinkansen (bullet train) to Koriyama. Visitors can then take a taxi, bus, or local train to Inawashiro Station, where they will be picked up by the hotel cars.

A direct helicopter from Haneda to Numajiri Kogen Lodge is also available.

So don’t wait! Because for agents serious about offering unforgettable experiences of Japan to families, adventure seekers, or leisure-lovers, the Aizu region is an absolute must.

 Be the ones in the know and start putting your Aizu package  (like the examples below) together today!


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