By Ignatius Koh
The Nasu highlands of northern Tochigi Prefecture are an easy bus ride from Tokyo and provide a relaxing retreat from the chaotic capital. One of the best places to stay in the region is Epinard Nasu, an onsen resort tucked away in a wooded forest within site of the region's snow-capped peaks.
Guests at Epinard Nasu are accommodated in two towers, the main building and the annex, both of which are connected to the central lobby and the main restaurant Herbage. Visitors can choose between Western-style rooms or futon beds, while larger suites offer the option of both and make the perfect lodging choice for extended families. Guest rooms are equipped with en-suite bathrooms stocked with amenities, comfortable leisure wear that can be worn anywhere in the complex and spaces for both work and relaxation.
You can even bring your furry best friend to Epinard Nasu, as the resort offers a separate hotel with in-room pet facilities (crates, dog beds, food dishes, etc) and separate shampoo and kenneling stations. There are trails to explore and a spacious dog park for pooches' play time. Guests at the dog hotel can also freely use the onsen and numerous dining options of the main complex.
Food is a highlight at Epinard Nasu, with nearly half a dozen distinct eateries from which to choose. The largest selection of foods can be found at Herbage, the buffet restaurant on the ground floor that serves both breakfast and dinner. Casual lunches can be enjoyed at Lemon Balm, while those seeking a more refined experience should head either for the washoku restaurant Nasuno or the heights of the hotel’s renowned French restaurant on the 13th floor. (Visit this article for more details on Epinard Nasu’s dining scene.)
During their stay, guests can choose from a variety of activities that the resort offers. The crafts cabin is the perfect rainy day destination, where anyone can try their hand at jewelry making, metalwork, pottery creation and/or painting and soba-making courses. Nearby, tennis courts, a mini-golf area and a ropes course are ideal in warmer weather. In the hotel itself, the large heated pool is always a popular draw, while the picturesque onsen - with one of the largest outdoor baths in the region - is a must for any hot springs enthusiast.
Epinard Nasu is situated in the exact center of the Nasu Highlands. From the hotel, many popular destinations are just a short trip away. Guests can either drive or take the local loop bus to such sights as the Teddy Bear Museum, the Safari Park, the Nasu Zoo and neighboring alpaca farm and the Rindoko Lake View. The hotel also offers packaged sightseeing experiences that vary with the seasons. In winter, for example, guests with a sweet tooth may want to indulge in all-you-can-eat strawberry picking while stargazing and a nearby Daruma festival also feature on the schedule.
Epinard Nasu can be reached by a variety of means of transportation, including train and shuttle combinations or direct buses from various pick-up points in Tokyo, Yokohama, Saitama and Chiba.
No matter what season you visit Epinard Nasu, you'll be treated to a memorable retreat in the wooded highlands of Tochigi Prefecture.
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