Early Autumn Hike at Oze National Park


During one of the long-weekend holiday last September, after almost a year of planning and changing my mind, I finally made it to Oze National Park via Gunma Prefecture approach.
oze national park
oze national park

Most frequently mentioned on my blogs how difficult the access on some of the places I been to, Oze National Park without any doubt deserves to be filed under this category.

Commuting from Tokyo requires you to take a bullet train or local trains to reach Numata Station, then transfer to a bus that only departs hourly to reach Tokura. From Tokura, you need to take another 45 minutes bus journey to reach the Hatomachitoge trail. I know, it is kind of confusing and a long 4 hours one-way journey for a day trip.
oze national park

So I searched for another, more sensible option- a bus that will departs from Shinjuku towards Tokura or Oshimizu and found Kan-etsu Kotsu bus company. For a roundtrip fee of 7,000 Yen, I booked a ticket together with a female friend from the office. I must say, even the bus schedule is not flexible for a day trip, with only 2 bus departing each day.

Once again, a mistake on my end was under-estimating Japanese holidays. What could have been a “sleep on the bus” journey with expected 11:00am arrival time turn out to be 12:30pm actual arrival time due to the traffic jam somewhere along the highway between Saitama and Niigata.
oze national park
oze national park

Stuck in the bus with a mild anxiety attack, I kept on thinking if we will manage to see Oze and be able to catch the 4pm return trip to Shinjuku. But then again, the idea stuck in my mind that Oze is only a marshland, so it will be just like a walk in the park and there was no need for me to worry.

The unexpected traffic jam resulted to a change in plan that triggers a series of events including the last minute change in decision to go for Oshimizu trailhead instead of Hatomachitoge trail. I have no idea what to expect with Oshimuzu trail apart from a view of a pond, so again a silly notion of a β€œwalk in a marshland” has entered my mind.

Of course, I was wrong. It was not a walk in the marshland, instead it was 14km total, almost 3.5 hours endless walks along wooden planks (new and broken), surprisingly climbed a mountain and without realizing reached a total elevation of almost 1700m.
oze national park
oze national park
oze national park
oze national park
oze national park

To reach the start of the climbing trail requires you to walk at least an hour on paved road towards a small rest house. We stopped for a mandatory lunch break of free oolong tea and mochi cakes.
oze national park
oze national park
oze national park
oze national park

From there, a few steps to the actual climbing journey. Though, the trail is relatively easy, the anxiousness of failing to catch the return bus to Shinjuku makes the climb even harder. But, we made a decision that we will finish this hike and see how it goes later.
oze national park
oze national park
oze national park
oze national park

The greatest reward of a long journey to Oze National Park was seeing the sign of the much anticipated Autumn season.
oze national park
oze national park
oze national park
oze national park

To see the pond requires another 30 minutes downhill walk thru a set of another wooded planks and stairs. Finally, at around 2:30 pm, we reached the pond area.
oze national park
oze national park

If only we were not in the rush, we will be able to enjoy more the view and have a relaxing break like the rest of these guys.
oze national park
oze national park
oze national park

Across the pond is the now famous nuclear disaster area of Fukushima prefecture, where I overheard some of the trail runners planning to circle around.

Time to walked back and try to catch up the 4pm bus.
oze national park

I am happy to inform you that we fail to catch the bus by a mere 10 minutes. Stuck at Oshimizu with no other means of public transportation, we resorted to the oldest trick of desperation- hitchhike our way back to Tokyo.

With few attempts and several turn downs, we finally met two 26 years old, helpful Otaku guys who were on their way back to Saitama. Bless these two guys, my collegue and I managed to arrive at our respective apartments safe and sound.

It was my first time to hitchhike anywhere. If this is not Japan, I would rather sleep at the wooden planks than took a ride with strangers.

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31 thoughts on “Early Autumn Hike at Oze National Park

  1. congrats for being on freshly pressed! the marsh looks beautiful amidst the mysterious cloudy surroundings!

    1. thanks a lot!
      actually, not freshly pressed but i wish it was.. some confusing format on the old blog theme that i used, sorry about that! πŸ™‚

  2. Congratulations on being freshly pressed! You deserved it πŸ™‚

    I love Autumn! It’s my favourite season of all time. These pictures are just warm and wonderful.

    1. Thanks Sarah! this post was not freshly pressed actually, some confusing format with the old theme that i used, really sorry bout that.
      I love, love autumn.. it is my favorite season.. πŸ™‚

  3. Congrats on being freshly pressed. I admire your courage and single mindedness in scaling heights. Beautiful pictures, and good narration, made an enjoyable reading.

    thanks.

  4. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! your blog posts remind me how lucky I am to own my own car, & not to have to make the long train/bus journeys that you do, in order to visit a beauty spot. It seems to me that few people in Japan own their own cars?

    1. thanks Alison! once again, Sorry for the confusion about the freshly pressed badge on the old blog theme that i use, the post was not freshly pressed but must great if it was πŸ™‚

      actually, most Japanese families owns a car but public transportation particularly trains are convenient, safe and economical, so they often leave it at home or park somewhere close to the train station and their homes… the place that I went to and my experience most probably is an exceptional case πŸ™‚

  5. Oh but Oze is MASSIVE, and even in a car it’s a bit of a mission to get there. Well done for arriving, hiking and returning via not-a-bus! πŸ˜€ I’m glad you made it, so that we can enjoy these gorgeous photos. Isn’t autumn just the best thing ever?

    PS: You’re so right: I wouldn’t hitchhike in any other country except Japan.

    1. good thing that my Japanese friend was with me or else i will not be able to ask for help. my “sumimasen” and the very limited Nihongo words that i knew will not be comprehensible and i will be stuck in Gunma for ever πŸ™‚

      love, love, love autumn!

  6. Hi! I live in Tokyo now and I’m planning to go to Oze next weekend, October 20th, do you think it’ll still have the autumn color?
    Thanks

    1. Hi there!
      I’m not really sure about the perfect time on when to see the autumn foliage at Oze but I think Oct.20 should be fine.
      I hope my prediction is correct. Enjoy πŸ™‚

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