This is a 42-kilometer scenic highway connecting Shiga Kogen on the Nagano side and Shirane/Kusatsu Onsen on the Gunma side. An hour's drive along this route offers a succession of scenic sights highlighted by magnificent mountains and picturesque lakes in Shiga Kogen and the northern part of Shinshu (Nagano). (Open only during the May-October period)
In the Uki district stands an 800-year-old cherry tree of the "Edo hikan-zakura" variety. It was named "Chitose-zakura" (meaning 1,000-year-old cherry tree) in 1914 and is loved by local residents and visitors alike. Its blossoms are at their best around April 20. This precious tree, 10 meters in circumference at the base and 12 meters high, was designated a prefectural natural monument in 1967. There are also several other places noted for cherry blossoms within Yamanouchi Town.
This educational garden has a 3.5-kilometer nature viewing path winding through a virgin forest, allowing visitors to truly enjoy being one with nature. From July to September, its rock garden turns into a colorful floral paradise and the visitor can feast his/her eye as some 50 species of alpine flora come into bloom one after another. There is also an exhibit hall introducing Shiga Kogen' world of nature, its birds and its animals.
This 100,000-square-meter botanical garden is dedicated to a collection of some 500 species of alpine plants from Shiga Kogen which flower consecutively from May through September. Above all, the extensive colony of Nikko-kisuge (alpine yellow lily) is truly worth viewing. A stroll along the one-kilometer circular path around the hilltop guarantees total communication with nature.
The 2,305-meter-high summit of Mt. Yokote is one of the most scenic spots in Shiga Kogen. If weather is fine, the summit commands a 360-degree panoramic view of the Northern Japan Alps and Mt. Fuji.
Created as a result of Mt. Shiga's eruption, Ohnuma, 5.5 kilometers in circumference, is the largest natural pond in Shiga Kogen. Its mysteriously pristine cobalt-blue water is surrounded by the lush green of foliage. Together they form an exquisite contrast with the vermilion torii gate of Daija Shrine dedicated to a legendary huge serpent. Songs of birds add to the tranquility.
This marshland used to be the bottom of the former Lake Shiga. Here, thick peat provides a habitat for colonies of a variety of marshy plants such as moorworts, cotton grass and sundew plants, enhancing the serenity and scenic appeal of the marsh landscape.
The area around Ichinuma Pond comes alive with the impressive orange flowers of "Renge-tsutsuji" azaleas in summer. In autumn, the foliage here is dyed with crimson and tints of gold, attracting many eager photo enthusiasts.
The Sugakawa district in Kita-Shiga Kogen is a noted soba (buckwheat) noodle producing center. The area's 4-hectare expanse of buckwheat fields blossom with white flowers from June to September, presenting a contrasting expanse of white upon green.
Vast apple orchards can be seen along national Route 292. Charming white blossoms from late April to early May and red balls of ripe apples in autumn please the eyes of strollers and drivers passing by. The apple blossom is Yamanouchi Town's official blossom.
Beginning in late September, all of Shiga Kogen is vividly colored with autumn foliage. The scarlet of lacquer and rowan trees, the yellow of maple trees and white birch, the glistening gold of Japanese larch are accentuated by the contrasting evergreens. Only Mother Nature can take credit for such a work of art.