10 Beautiful Starry Skies Only 3 Hours From Tokyo
Winter is coming. Many people tend to look up into the clearer skies at this time of the year for shimmering brighter stars. Did you know that there are some spectacular starry skies in the proximity of the metropolitan area? There are lots of places you can go to see them in just 3 hours from Tokyo. Most of them are only accessible by car and you might need to rent a car. But these 10 stargazing spots listed here are well worth visiting! Please check the road condition before departing!
Oct 26 2015 (Sep 09 2020)
1. Nasu Highlands (那須高原) [Tochigi]
The Nasu Highlands, at over 1000m above sea level, offers a clear night sky with little artificial light pollution. The starry skies over the Nasu hot spring area are beautiful, but the locals recommend the Omaru parking area along the prefectural route 17 for the best view. You can reach Nasu Onsen both by car and by public transportation in 2 hours 40 minutes to 3 hours from Tokyo.
HP: www.nasukogen.org (Japanese Only)
Address: Nasu-machi, Nasu-gun, Tochigi (Google Map)
2. Okunikko (奥日光) [Tochigi]
Okunikko, over 1300m above sea level, is a remote mountainous area boasting some spectacular spots of natural beauty. The starry sky spreads over the Okunikko Onsen area which is only 3 hours by car or a combination of trains and buses from Tokyo. The Senjogahara marsh is highly recommended for its magnificent panoramic scene without anything to disturb your view, although it is only accessible by car at night.
HP: nikko-travel.jp/fanti/ (中文)
Address: Chugushi, Nikko-shi, Tochigi (Google Map)
3. Akagiyama (赤城山) [Gunma]
Mt. Akagi is popular among sky watchers in the north Kanto region. The caldera lakes on the top of the mountain are protected from the city lights by their surroundings at an elevation of 1200 to 1800m. Shimmering stars can be enjoyed best from the parking areas such as Shin-Sakadaira or Ono. It takes about 2 hours 40 minutes by car from Tokyo, and prefectural route 4 is recommended as route 16 is closed in winter.
HP: akagi-yama.jp/access (Japanese Only)
Address: Akagiyama, Fujimi-cho, Maehashi-shi, Gunma (Google Map)
4. Minakami (水上) [Gunma]
Minakami Onsen hot spring (2 and half hours by car from Tokyo) or Shima Onsen hot spring (2 hours 50 minutes) are good places located in mountainous areas. The outdoor baths at some lodgings apparently offer some fantastic star gazing opportunities. Please check the road condition in advance if you are planning on driving to these heavy snowfall areas.
HP: www.enjoy-minakami.jp/chn1/ (中文)
Address: Minakami-machi, Tone-gun, Gunma, (Google Map)
5. Torami Kaigan (東浪見海岸) [Chiba]
Torami beach, a part of the 66 km-long Kujukuri beach, is one of the closest stargazing spots to Tokyo. It is only accessible by car at night and is about one hour and a half from Tokyo. You need to bring a flashlight as there’s almost no street light along this sandy beach.
HP: www.99beach.com/beach/list/area5_torami.html (Japanese Only)
Address: Torami, Ichinomiya-machi, Chosei-gun, Chiba (Google Map)
6. Nojimazaki (野島崎) [Chiba]
How about visiting the Nojima cape, the southernmost of the Boso peninsula, combining the trip with overnight stay at the Shirahama Onsen? It takes about 2 hours both by car and by highway bus from the capital.
HP: www.mboso-etoko.jp/navi/c/ (中文)
Address: 630 Shirahama, Shirahama-cho, Minami Boso-shi, Chiba (Google Map)
7. Yamanakako Panorama Observatory (山中湖) [Yamanashi]
The Yamanakako Panorama Observatory, 1090m high, is located between the Lake Yamanakako and the Mikuni Pass on the prefectural route 730. This observatory offers a wonderful panoramic view as well as a spectacular night sky with Mt. Fuji and Lake Yamanaka in the west and the Minami Alps in the north in the distance on a clear day. Please note that it is only accessible by car and takes under 2 hours from Tokyo.
HP: www.yamanakako.gr.jp (Japanese Only)
Address: Yamanakako-mura, Minamitsuru-gun, Yamanashi (Google Map)
8. Izu (伊豆) [Shizuoka]
The Izu Peninsula, two and a half hours from Tokyo, is a good place accessible both by car and by public transport. If you are planning on going by public transport, you might want to combine the trip with an overnight stay at the Amagi hot spring. If you are going by car, the Nishi Izu Skyline is recommended with little traffic at night and with some parking lots along the route. Or you may extend your drive to the Ai Ai cape, the southernmost of the peninsula for darker skies, though it takes 3 hours and 40 minutes.
HP: www.izu-kankou.or.jp/cnt/index.html (中文)
Address: Hane, Hadano-shi, Kanagawa (Google Map)
9. Mt. Fuji Skyline [Shizuoka]
Fujisan Skyline, accessible by private vehicle only out of the climbing season, is one of the closest star gazing spots to Tokyo. The Nishi Usuduka parking area around the second station, about 2 hours from Tokyo, or the fifth station are recommended with their spectacular night skies, as seen in the picture above, however the route between the second and the fifth station is closed from mid-November to late April.
HP: fujisan-kkb.jp/chinese/index.html (中文)
10. Nobeyama Highland (野辺山高原) [Nagano]
The Nobeyama Highland at an elevation of 1300m is one of the best places to observe the night sky in Japan. Located at the foot of Yatsugatake, you can overlook the Minami Alps covered with snow as well in winter. The Yatsugatake Fureai Park or the Nobeyama Radio Observatory is popular, while there are plenty of stargazing spots in the region. It takes 2 and half hours to 3 hours from Tokyo by car or by trains. Winter tires are a must for driving in winter.
HP: www.kanko-nobeyama.jp/enjoy/star_watch/star_watch.html (Japanese Only)
Address: Minamimaki-mura, Nagano (Google Map)
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.