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Lake Chuzenji

Tochigi’s largest lake is a perfect spot to beat the summer heat; a high-altitude haven of nature and recreation.

Nestled high in the mountains which tower above the city of Nikko, this expansive lake is the largest in the prefecture. Lake Chuzenji began its life many thousands of years ago, when a volcanic eruption blocked the valley below, forming this lovely, high-altitude body of water.

To escape the summer heat, foreign dignitaries from the Tokyo embassies would often retreat to Lake Chuzenji for some rest and relaxation in the cooler air. Most of the perimeter of the lake belongs to nature, with dense forest running along it. On the east side, you’ll find a little onsen hot spring resort named after the lake.

But the real draw here is getting out on the water. Sightseeing tours run throughout the year and highlight the most beautiful aspects of the lake for each season. Fall is perhaps the best time to visit, when the autumnal foliage tours focus on the beauty of the turning leaves.

If you’re not such a fan of waterborne journeys, you could always try to complete the whole 25km hiking route which runs around the perimeter of the lake instead.

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