In Oze there are a number of famous, scenic spots, such as the Waterfall of Sanjo, Yama-no-Hana, the Hatomachi Pass, the Fujimi Pass, the Oze Marsh, Ozegahara, etc. All those are must-see sights. About 80 per cent of the visitors enter Oze through the two major entrances (Hatomachi-Pass and Numayama-Pass), with over half arriving through Hatomachi-Pass. The main starting points of the trail are Hatomachi-toge (mountain pass) near Oze-ga-hara, and Numayama-toge near Oze-numa.
From Hatomachi-toge (mountain pass) a 30-40 minute walk to Yamanohana. From Yamanohana, it is another one-hour walk to Ushikubi, one more hour to Ryugu, and another hour and a half still to Sanjo Falls, which is listed as one of the 100 famous waterfalls of Japan. The entrances (access points) of Oze are followings.
- From Fukushima Prefecture
- Numayama Toge (Numayama pass)
- From Gunma Prefecture
- Hatomachi Toge (Hatomachi pass)
- Fujimi-shita (Fujimi Toge Pass)
- Oshimizu (Oshimizuguchi)
- Ozeguchi is on the Niigata Prefecture side, and Kuriyamaguchi is on the Tochigi Prefecture side
Barrier-free boardwalks are installed on Oshimizu Marsh in Oshimizu (Gunma Prefecture), which is an access point to Ozegahara area and Ozenuma area, and between the parking facilities in Miike (Fukushima Prefecture) and Miike Tashiro.
At some 1,700 meters above sea level, Oze National Park is Japan’s highest moor. Oze is made up of the Ozegahara moor, Ozenuma lake and surrounding mountains. Lake Ozenuma (north of Mt. Hiuchidake & center of Oze National Park) is a popular hiking destination in the park with numerous lodges and some camping sites. The marshes on the north shore of the lake, both large and small, provide fantastic views to hikers.
The route from the Numayama Toge Pass to the eastern shore (where the Ozenuma Visitor Center is located) runs through the Oe Marsh wetland. Visitors will see three stands of larches on some slightly elevated land beside Lake Ozenuma, which people affectionately call “The Three Larches.” Mt. Sarabuse viewed from Lake Ozenuma shows the characteristic form of a shield volcano.
Fujimi-shita (Fujimi Toge Pass)
Fujimi-shita trailhead is the least popular, because it is not convenient for accessing either the marshland or the Ozenuma lake.
Fujimi Panorama and Mt Nyukasa is a great trip for flower lovers during spring, in particular it is famous for its Lily of the Valley, or Suzuran. During winter it becomes a ski resort, but it is still possible to climb to the summit of Mt Nyukasa to see the 360 degree panorama, which includes views of Mt Fuji, Yatsugatake, and the Japanese Northern, Central and Southern Alps
Hatomachi-toge (mountain pass) and Yamanohana
Hatomachi Pass (1591m above sea level) at Tokura (980m ASL). From Tokura (in Gunma Prefecture) to the left is Hatomachi Toge, some 11 km distant and the starting point of the walk from the Oze marsh end. Straight on the road runs for 8 km before terminating at Oshimizu, the starting point of the walk from the Ozenuma end. Bus and taxi services are available to both starting points if you decide to leave your car at Tokura.
Hatomachi-Toge Pass is one of the most popular one-day hiking course.It takes about one and half hour from Hatomachi-toge, Oze to Yumoro area. From the top, you can either continue down the “closed” trail to Yama-no-hana, or retrace your steps all the way back to Hatomachi-toge, and then take the 1 hour “legal” wooden path down to Oze. The trail from Yama-no-hana to the summit is for climbing only and is “closed” for people descending because of the rocks.
Ryugu and Yoshippori Tashiro
Walking from Yamanohana through Ozegahara Marsh takes hikers to a branch for Ryugu and the Yoppi Bridge. Near the branch, a hill resembling a cow’s neck (ushikubi) rises from the marsh, hence the name of the branch. There are long benches at this branch, and many visitors take a rest there.
Entering Miharashi district in Ozegahara marshland from the gateway “Hatomachi-touge” mountain pass in Gunma, walking forward on wooden footpath for some kilometers, and enjoying the autumnal grand view of marshland, on the right you will see Mt Hiuchigatake in the distance. The trail will wind through the marshes, over creeks, and through small wooded areas on your way to Miharashi. Here “Miharashi”(meaning view or lookout in japanese) is the intermediate point between Ozegahara and Ozenuma, and there are some mountain lodges around here.
Miharashi is a good place to stay overnight due to an abundance of mountain huts and fresh water. It is also the starting point of the hike to Lake Oze. The public restroom is set at Miharashi area, Hot spring area, Yamanohana area, Toden lodge area respectively.
See: Shibosawa Onsen (hot springs spa)
Miike and Mt. Aizu-komagatake
There are three mountaineering routes that can be negotiated on Aizukomagadake mountain: the Takizawa Route and the Kirinte Route from Hinoemata Village and a route that traces a path from Miike through the mountain ridge to the summit.
The two routes that start in Hinoemata Village go through various forest zones corresponding to elevation, with a Quercus crispula Blume (oak) zone near the bottom, followed by—in succession—a beech zone, Maries’ fir zone, and gold birch zone. These routes allow climbers to explore forests that lead to the presence of alpine plants right below the ridgeline of the mountain.
The route that begins in Miike is a popular way to enjoy a tranquil alpine trip since it gives climbers a chance to follow a graceful mountain ridgeline while gazing out at the Okutadami area and the Taisaku mountain range.
The highlight of each of these routes is the alpine wetland existing along the ridgeline leading to Mt. Chumon-dake once you go beyond the summit of Mt. Aizukomagadake. Designated a Special Protection Zone of Oze National Park, this area boasts a gold birch and Maries’ fir forest growing partway up the side of Mt. Aizu-komagadake to form a spectacular alpine landscape that can only be obtained in areas of heavy snowfall accumulation.
Miike-dake is also a peak of five large peaks of Mt. Hiuchigatake. Other four peaks are Shibayasugura, Manaitagura, Minobuchi-dake and Akanagure-dake.
When Oze was designated as an independent national park in 2007, Mt. Aizukomagatake, Mt. Taishakuzan and Mt. Tashiroyama were newly included in the park. From the foot to the mid-slope of the mountains extend natural forests of beeches (Fagus crenata) and other trees. The Mt. Aizu-komagatake located across the marsh commands views of Mt. Hiuchigatake and Mt. Shibutsu. This marsh is also well known for its “Hakusan Kozakura” (primrose family), which bloom between early and mid-July. Hinoemata is surrounded by the mountains Komagatake, Mount Taishaku, and Hiuchigatake (the highest mountain in northwestern Japan).
Hatomachi Toge Pass – Yamanohana (60 min) Yamanohana – Ushikubi Fork (40 min) Ushikubi Fork – Ryugu-Goya (40 min) Ryugu-Goya – Yoppi Bridge (30 min) Yoppi Bridge – Ushikubi Fork (50 min) Ushikubi Fork – Yamanohana (40 min)
Yamanohana – Hatomachi Toge Pass (70 min)
From Oshimizu to Hatomachi Toge (One way)
Oshimizu – Ichinose (1 hr) Ichinose – Sanpei Toge (15 mins) Sanpei Toge – Ozenuma (15 mins) Ozenuma – Ozenuma Hutte (25 mins) Ozenuma Hutte – Senko Shitsugen (20 mins) Senko Shitsugen – Numajiri Shitsugen (40 mins) Numajiri Shitsugen – Miharashijujiro (1 hrs 40 mins) Miharashijujiro – Yamanohana Tashiro (1 hrs 50 mins)
Yamanohana Tashiro – Hatomachi Toge (50 mins)
More About: Oze National Park – Accommodation and Camping Site List and list of Oze Certified Guides and Organizations in Gunma, Fukushima, Niigata and Tochigi Prefecture.
Nature of Oze National Park By Oze Preservation Foundation
Places of interest: Oze National Park By Ministry of the Environment
Oze Hike By Gunma Tourism International Association
Oze National Park By Natural Parks Foundation
Oze in Summer By Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
THE CASE OF OZE AREA By Japan Planning Division, Nature Conservation Bureau, Japanese Environment Agency
Blog: Hike – Oze Marsh