Oze National Park is one of the most beautiful parks in Japan spanning across Gunma, Fukushima, Tochigi, and Niigata prefectures, only a few hours away from Tokyo by car. With that in mind I made myself a promise to not only visit it one day, but also take some gorgeous video to share with you all.
After a few hours spent on the internet reviewing photos of Oze as well as checking out several possible routes and spots I wanted to take video of, I waited for some good news from the weather forecast to schedule a two-day hike there with my good friend Michael T.
Now let’s be honest for a minute, despite having spent many summers with my father and his friends trekking in the Alps as well as suffering for hours on several glaciers wearing crampon boots, these, well, were all in my twenties when I was fit and full of energy. To make things even worse, every single picture you can find on the internet about Oze is extremely misleading only showing you gorgeous landscapes and easy-to-access routes… The reality is, however, rather different!
I could go on and on for hours on this and share with you all our suffering including falling in snow traps, having to traverse paths covered by a good 50cm of slippery and dirty snow, climbing trails that were, for the occasion, turned into a nice little stream of fresh water, the heavy humidity of forest trails and the suffocating hours of trails under the sun with no shade… To give you a rough idea of our our endeavor, the second day – including taking video and a few 30 minutes pauses – took around 9h to cover almost 23km including 706m of total ascent and 897m of total descent. But instead I’d prefer to share with you some of the best (or worst) moments we had there.
First of all, Oze is a magnificent park, but unfortunately there are very few pictures on the internet that show how amazing this park is and I really hope that the video we took will right this wrong.
Now, if you are going to visit Oze and see everything, plan to spend at least three days and two nights there and get READY to suffer. A good pair of hiking shoes is the bare minimum. Avoid sport shoes and even ‘approach’ shoes; in Oze you will need a good pair of waterproof boots with good ankle support. Also invest in a good backpack and a pair of walking sticks, one large, or a few water bottles (or water bladder) to refill in one of Oze’s many natural fountains. It’s also a good idea to bring with you some Gatorade-like powdered drink solution in order to replenish your electrolytes and vitamins, and save both space and money as the basic Pocari Sweat (500ml) costs around 400 to 450 yen within the park!
Also remember that since Oze is a protected national park there are no trash bins, so everything that you would usually throw away will have to be carried back with you! While there are many lodges in Oze (around 23), most, if not all, rooms do not have power sockets so make sure to bring enough batteries for your gear. Finally, and in order to protect the Oze ecosystem, it is forbidden to use soap and shampoo in these lodges when you take your shower, for which you will also need to bring your own towel.
Despite all of these “surprises” Michael and I had a wonderful time there and we can’t wait to have the opportunity to visit Oze one more time and shoot some video of the places we missed including the many waterfalls around the Ozegahara Marsh as well as climbing Mt. Hiuchigatake (2356m) and enjoying the view from there.
A few shots of Oze and our trip
A few Panorama Shots from (Top to Bottom) Lake Ozenuma, Shirasuna Tashiro (The Trail linking both the lake and the mash) and Oze’s famoust Mashland.
Trail? What Trail?
Lake Ozenuma and its famous Skunk Flowers. Wild Wasabi
Fresh Water from the mountain