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Japan's version of Germany's "Romantic Road" leads over about 350 kilometers from Ueda City in Nagano Prefecture through the mountains of Gunma Prefecture to Utsunomiya City in Tochigi Prefecture.

Various interesting towns, hot spring resorts and lots of natural scenery can be enjoyed along the Romantic Road, including the mountain resort of Karuizawa, active volcanoes, the hot spring mecca of Kusatsu and the world heritage sites of Nikko.

Due to a lack of convenient public transportation along many of its sections, the Romantic Road has remained off the beaten path for foreign tourists. Private transportation, such as a rental car, and two to five days are recommended to cover the entire route.

10 kilometers along National Route 18

Unno Juku

Unno Juku is a former post station and silk producing town on the Hokkoku Kaido, an ancient road leading through Nagano Prefecture. Dozens of old buildings have been beautifully preserved along a more than 250 meter long stretch of the road.

10 kilometers along National Route 18

Komoro City

Komoro's main attraction is Kaikoen Park (admission: 500 Yen), the former site of the city's feudal castle. Nowadays, only a gate and the ruined walls of the castle remain. A small museum with exhibits from the feudal ages stands next to the park's entrance.

5 kilometers along Regional Route 80

Shinraku Temple (Miyota Town)

Built at the foot of Mount Asama as a protection against volcanic eruptions, Shinraku Temple has a history of over 1000 years. Among the temple buildings is a three storied pagoda.

5 kilometers along Regional Route 80
10 kilometers along National Route 18

Karuizawa

Karuizawa is an upmarket mountain resort at the foot of Mount Asama, offering a wide range of outdoor activities and shopping opportunities, including a small version of Tokyo's Ginza shopping district.

10 kilometers along Shiraito Highlandway (400 Yen)
5 kilometers along Onioshi Highway (620 Yen)

Onioshidashi (Mount Asama)

The Romantic Road follows the base of Mount Asama for more than 50 kilometers. One of the most impressive places to view the active volcano is from the Onioshidashi Park, a stream of solidified lava formed by a past eruption.

15 kilometers along Onioshi Highway
10 kilometers along Regional Route 59
5 kilometers along National Route 292

10 kilometers along National Route 292
25 kilometers along Regional Route 55
10 kilometers along National Route 353

15 kilometers along National Route 353
15 kilometers along National Route 145
40 kilometers along National Route 120

3 kilometers along National Route 120

Fukiware Falls

Fukiware no taki is a distinctively shaped waterfall along Katashina River, not far from Oigami Onsen.

55 kilometers along National Route 120 (closed in winter)

15 kilometers along National Route 120

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One of Japan's most popular tourist spots, the world heritage site of Nikko is famous for the Toshogu, Japan's most lavishly decorated shrine complex.

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Page last updated: February 19, 2015