Nourish your mind and body in Japan’s unspoilt nature with the Oze Gourmet Trip, held in Oze National Park.
This immersive experience not only introduces visitors to a less touristy—yet equally mesmerizing—side of Japan’s nature, but also incorporates elements of gastronomy and cultural exploration.
- Homemade lunches packed in handcrafted wappa bento boxes
- Hiking in Oze National Park with an English-speaking guide
- Lodging at a rustic mountain hut
- Luxurious Gibier cuisine
- Kabuki makeup experience
- Hot spring public bath visit
Oze National Park
Oze National Park, hereinafter referred to as Oze, rests north of Tokyo and stretches across four prefectures—Fukushima, Niigata, Gunma, and Tochigi. This over 37,000-hectare area features mountains, forests, seasonal flowers, water elements, and most famously, shitsugen, which are similar in appearance to marshlands.
The park is most recognized for its extensive network of wooden boardwalks, which serve to protect the treasured environment. Some of Oze’s most prominent natural landmarks are Lake Ozenuma, Mt. Hiuchi, and Ozegahara. Together, these wonders create mesmerizing vistas where vast greenery meets majestic mountains, gentle waters, and wide skies.
Oze is also renowned for its variety of seasonal flora. In late May, skunk cabbages decorate the landscape in white, and in early July, Nikko day lilies paint the area yellow. In autumn, the shitsugen’s verdancy transitions to a golden hue, granting a cherished visual of the season. In terms of animals, keep an eye out for Japanese hares, birds, and the ever elusive Japanese stoat—an adorable type of weasel.
Oze Gourmet Trip’s hiking portion focuses on the area around Lake Ozenuma and includes trails in Fukushima and Gunma. The tour provides transportation to the trailhead via an electric bus, during which your guide will provide information about the park’s ecosystem, safety tips, and hiking etiquette guidelines.
The hike to your accommodation takes between five to six hours. As you venture across forested trails, rocky paths, and wooden walkways, your guide will stop periodically to point out unique elements of the park and explain environmental features. Although long, the hike has numerous resting points and bathrooms to ensure that you have time to rest, refuel with snacks and lunch, and simply enjoy the beautiful scenery. The unique visuals paired with the pristine breeze and gentle sounds of rustling grass, steady footsteps on wood, and the occasional passing bear bell, make for a mindful and healing trek.
Your accommodation, Oze-goya, perfectly embodies nature’s allure with its wooden construction, simple tatami rooms, and terrace seating where you can enjoy refreshments and views of the encircling scenery. You can even pick up a souvenir here!
Pro tip: On cloudless nights, we highly recommend stargazing. You can see the Milky Way and may even spot a shooting star!
Before embarking on the hike, you will receive a handmade lunch in a wappa bento box filled with energizing vegetables, meat, and rice balls. Wappa are locally-made crafts from Oze’s Hinoemata Village and thus, are unique to the area. You even get to keep these beautiful crafts after the tour!
Pro tip: Be sure to leave enough room in your hiking backpack to fit the wappa bento box.
At Oze-goya, you will partake in an elegant Gibier dinner! The multi-course, French-inspired meal features dishes with game meat, such as duck, venison, and local fish. The creative flavors and textures make you feel like you are dining at a five-star restaurant rather than at a mountain lodge in the middle of a national park.
Aside from Oze’s natural beauty, the area also acts as a wonderful place to explore traditional Japanese culture. Along Kabuki Street in Hinoemata Village, you can join a Kabuki makeup experience. Kabuki is a traditional form of Japanese theater that is characterized by its decorative costumes, highly-stylized makeup, and dramatic movements. With a Kabuki actor as your makeup artist, don this unique makeup and then pose for a dramatic picture.
The village is also home to a public bath called Hiuchi-no-yu. Public baths are a unique part of Japanese culture and have long served as relaxing getaways. From the Hiuchi-no-yu’s outdoor bath, you can soak in rejuvenating hot spring waters and enjoy panoramas of the region’s surrounding nature.
With fresh air, nourishing cuisine, moderate trekking, and both environmental and cultural learning, the Oze Gourmet Trip is guaranteed to leave you feeling refreshed, yet satisfyingly tired. If you are interested in this off-the-beaten-path adventure, please check out the booking link to learn more.