Nasu Highland Trip: Enjoy Magnificent Nature, Museums, and Hot Springs
Nasu Highland, located in northern Tochigi, is easily accessible from Tokyo. Highlights include facilities where adults and children can have fun amid nature, hot springs, charming cafes, and art museums. We introduce an exciting two-day itinerary that includes must-visit facilities in Nasu.
Nasu Highland: Have a Great Time in the Heart of Nature!
Photo by Pixta
Nasu Highland is a resort area in northern Tochigi Prefecture. In addition to hot spring facilities, there are numerous art galleries and museums.
There's also the Nasu Animal Kingdom and Minamigaoka Dairy Farm, where children can have fun while learning. This is why Nasu is a popular family destination.
We recommend visiting Nasu Highland not as a day trip but by spending some relaxing time at a hot spring hotel.
Take the Shinkansen train from Tokyo to Nasushiobara City (about 70 minutes) when arriving by train. From here, you can use the local transit bus to arrive at your destination. This vast area is dotted with many sightseeing spots, so renting a car is another convenient option.
This article will introduce a one-night, two-day model course for sightseeing within Nasu Highland. This itinerary includes spots to marvel at Nasu Highland's magnificent nature alongside regional cuisine, hotels with hot springs, and art galleries.
This is the perfect getaway for those wanting to refresh from the daily hustle and bustle of city life.
Day One: Delicious Food and Great Museums
Cafe BUTTER NO ITOKO: Tasty Sweets Made by Local Dairy Farmers
How about having a snack upon arriving at Nasu Highland? Nasu is often called the Dairy Kingdom because it's home to multiple ranches and dairy farmers.
BUTTER NO ITOKO is a cafe serving sweets and drinks made by upcycling skim milk—a byproduct of the butter-making process. To start, let's take a short break here.
The shop is located inside a building complex called GOOD NEWS (Japanese), which opened in July 2020.
The cafe space is bright, spacious, and visitors can relax and feel at ease. On the terrace, dog owners can spend time with their pets.
BUTTER NO ITOKO also sells tasty namesake products. This confection features butter and skim milk jam sandwiched between two butter-scented thin waffles (see photo above).
This delectable treat has a gentle sweetness that pairs perfectly with coffee or tea. It's also sold in a pack of three, making it an ideal souvenir!
The shop menu includes donuts and banana smoothies made from skim milk. Enjoy the feeling of time slowing down as you savor these irresistible treats.
Inside the GOOD NEWS complex is a stand selling soft serve ice cream with Nasu Highland milk. Be sure to drop in here as well!
Nasu Stained Glass Museum: Marvel at Iridescent Colored Glass
At the Nasu Stained Glass Museum (English*), visitors can marvel at various 19th century antique stained glass. The stone building is modeled after a British manor house, which historically was the main residence for the lord of a manor.
*To access the English homepage, find the multi-colored Google button in the top right corner of the homepage and click the down arrow. Then click on the first blue-colored word.
The stained glass windows are reminiscent of a European church. There's also an extensive lineup of Tiffany lamps exuding an Art Nouveau ambience (see photo above). These lamps typically portray landscapes, flowers, insects, and other designs in a colorful manner.
Surrounded by the beautiful exhibits and bathed in their gentle light, you can't help but be enchanted!
St. Raphael Chapel on the art museum premises is also a must-see. The stained glass covering an entire wall and the building's exquisite beauty will have you captivated.
Depending on the day, they also host pipe organ and music box concerts.
At the nearby Cafe Bibury, visitors can enjoy tasty sweets with a cup of tea or coffee. The menu also includes pizza and curry rice.
BAKERY PENNY LANE: Freshly Baked Bread and Delicious Lunch
Visitors looking to sample Nasu's delicious cuisine should head to Bakery Penny Lane (Japanese)! The bakery next to Restaurant Penny Lane also sells freshly baked bread.
After lunch, stop by the bakery to pick up some baked goods as a souvenir.
Among the wide selection of bread, we recommend the Blueberry Bread filled with generous amounts of blueberry jam. The sweet and sour flavor goes well with a cup of coffee, tea, or even hot milk.
Another popular bread is the Nasu Anpan filled with red bean paste and chestnuts. The Ringo Star packed with custard cream and apples is another fan favorite.
Restaurant Penny Lane exudes a warm, homey atmosphere. The owner is a Beatles fan, so guests can enjoy a leisurely lunch with the band's tunes playing in the background.
The extensive menu includes pasta dishes, baguette sandwiches, and ajillo (a Spanish appetizer with shrimp) using local vegetables. There's also a full dessert lineup.
Please click on the link below for information on Nasu Highland and famous Nasu cuisine.
Nasu Animal Kingdom: A Wonderful Paradise for Children!
Picture courtesy of Nasu Animal Kingdom
Visitors can spend time with animals at the Nasu Animal Kingdom. This is a top-rated attraction in the Nasu Highland area.
The grounds of the zoo are divided into various zones. Visitors can interact with alpacas, horses, sheep, and other animals at the Kingdom Farm.
At the Sky Stadium, you can watch performances by hawks, horned owls, parakeets, and other birds as they soar through the sky.
Picture courtesy of Nasu Animal Kingdom
The Kingdom Town consists of several interconnected indoor facilities with various exciting highlights.
For example, the Asian Forest features animals such as the red panda and Pallas's cat. At WETLAND, visitors can get a close-up look at jaguars, shoebill birds, and other creatures. At the Tropical Forest, you can see various tropical animals.
Likewise, fur seals put on an enjoyable performance at the Aqua Stage.
On the grounds of Nasu Animal Kingdom, there's a restaurant, cafe, and souvenir shop. Families will have a fun and satisfying experience here!
In Tochigi Prefecture, there are many places where you and your children can have a great time!
EDO WONDERLAND Nikko Edomura offers visitors a hands-on ninja experience. Tobu World Square is a miniature town filled with numerous world-famous landmarks.
Please click on the link below for details on additional Tochigi sightseeing spots suitable for parents and children.
Experience the Ultimate Hot Springs at Resort Hotel Laforet Nasu!
When staying in Nasu Highland, we recommend Hotel Laforet Nasu (Japanese).
The spacious and relaxing guest rooms offer a full lineup of amenities. In other words, you can stay here in total comfort.
The hotel is also easily accessible to art galleries, museums, and other sightseeing spots.
There are large public baths on the fourth and fifth floors. While soaking in the milky white natural hot spring, you can get a stunning view of Nasu Highland's natural surroundings.
The men's and women's baths are on separate floors. The bath on each respective floor becomes men-only or women-only, depending on whether it's an odd-numbered or even-numbered day.
Guests can also enjoy a hot spring made of rocks (iwaburo) and a sauna.
The seasonal spring menu at the Japanese restaurant Yamaji. Picture courtesy of Hotel Laforet Nasu
Restaurant Yamaji on the hotel premises serves seasonal kaiseki cuisine. The carefully selected ingredients include locally grown vegetables, Wagyu beef, and rainbow trout. The menu also changes with the seasons.
The hotel's gift shop is packed with different types of Nasu Highland and Tochigi souvenirs.
These include sweets made with Tochiotome strawberries, a prized Tochigi-grown fruit. There's also the Goyo manju, a local specialty, alongside snacks, Japanese pickles (tsukemono), locally brewed sake, and fruit juices. You will find traditional crafts and trekking and outdoor gear as well.
To arrive at Hotel Laforet Nasu, guests can board a courtesy bus from Nasushiobara Station. Bus reservations are required, so please tell the hotel staff upon booking your room (Tel: 0287-76-3489).
It takes about 15 minutes to get to the hotel from the Nasu Interchange by car.
Please click on the link below for more information on accommodation facilities in Nasu, Utsunomiya, Nikko, and other destinations in Tochigi Prefecture.
Day Two: Let's Explore Nasu Highland's Nature!
See Beautiful Scenery From the Nasu Ropeway
Photo by Pixta
Let's see some spectacular scenery on the second day of our excursion!
We'll take the Nasu Ropeway and head to the summit of Chausudake, the highest peak in the Nasu Mountain Range. Though the travel time is only five minutes, some breathtaking scenery awaits us.
In particular, the fresh green foliage in the spring and colorful autumn leaves are striking! On a clear day, you can see as far as Koriyama City in Fukushima Prefecture.
At Chausudake's station, there's a rest area and a retail shop. While sipping on a warm beverage, get a bird's-eye view of Nasu Highland's scenery.
Be Moved by the Beauty of Nasu Heisei-no-mori Forest
Photo by Pixta
Nasu Heisei-no-mori-Forest spreads out at the base of the Nasu Mountain Range. This is part of the former Nasu Imperial Villa Estate, which was land reserved exclusively for the Imperial family. It was officially opened to the general public in 2011.
This expansive Mongolian Oak (Mizunara) natural forest is also home to rare animals and plants.
The forest is separated into two different zones: the Forest Recreation Zone where visitors can explore on their own, and the Forest Learning Zone where a walking guide is required.
For first-time visitors, we recommend heading to the Field Center. You can look at the exhibits and get a feel for the features of Nasu Heisei-no-mori Forest.
At the Field Center, there's a 30 minute free program (held in Field Center & Forest Recreation Zone), allowing visitors to deepen their knowledge of the forest. If you join this program, your walk within Nasu Heisei-no-mori Forest will be an extra fulfilling experience.
Nasuben: A Lunch Plate Filled With Delicious Nasu Ingredients
Picture courtesy of Tochigi Prefecture
At the Nasu Kogen Yuai no Mori Rest Area, you'll find a restaurant, retail shop, and handicrafts gallery among other facilities. This is the ideal place for taking a break.
At Restaurant Yuai no Mori Nasutoran (English*), you can enjoy tasty cuisine using locally sourced ingredients.
*To access the English homepage, find the multi-colored Google button at the top of the homepage and click on the down arrow. Then click on the first blue-colored word.
Picture courtesy of Nasu Kogen Yuai no Mori Nasutoran
Our recommendation is the Nasuben Lunch Plate (see photo above). This lunch is a nutritionally balanced meal featuring nine farm-to-table ingredients.
These include rice balls (onigiri) using local Koshihikari brand rice, vegetable soup, a homemade hamburger steak, salad, delicious Nasu Highland milk, and seasonal fruit mousse.
Many visitors from other prefectures make a memorable trip here to enjoy the tasty Nasuben lunch!
Refresh Your Body and Soul at Nasu Highland!
In addition to spots featured in this article, there are many other Nasu Highland attractions to explore. A single visit here will make you want to come back time and time again!
This region is overflowing with attractive places, so it's best to stay overnight and take your time enjoying the scenery.
For more information on nature and sightseeing spots in the Nasu area, please click on the link below.
Main image by Pixta
Sponsored by Tochigi Prefecture