Nasu is a picturesque town located about two and a half hours northeast of Tokyo that makes for a perfect weekend getaway. There are so many things to do, it is bound to become a favorite spot when you want a break from the city. From parks to cute cafes, and even a theme park, Nasu has something for everyone.
Where To Stay
Nasu Ichiya Hotel
There are few better deals as far as onsen hotels go than Ichiya. Guests can enjoy a welcome drink and hors d’oeuvres from 17:00, so be sure to check in before then.
A room for 2 with buffet breakfast included is less than ¥18,000, but to get even more value for money, opt into reserving a plan with a dinner course included as well. This will set you back just under ¥30,000 for 2, but will leave you stuffed with delicious shabu-shabu, where complimentary fillings such as gyoza, chicken dumplings, fresh veggies, and mochi, can be ordered in quantities to fit any appetite. On top of that, the plan includes all you can drink not just during dinner, but at the bar afterwards, so you can get even more bang for your buck.
The hotel has a large communal bathing area, as well as private onsen baths that you can reserve during check in for the evening, and which can be used on a first come first served basis in the morning. The hotel welcomes tattooed guests, so you can have peace of mind and fully enjoy the onsen experience.
The best thing is that when you check out, you will receive a coupon for your next stay for just ¥17,000 for 2. Be aware, all you can drink is not included in this, but you can add it for ¥1500 per person when you book or check in. Because of this, the hotel is often fully booked, so be sure to reserve early.
If onsen hotels are not your jam, there is also a newly open glamping location called Nenn, although prices are similar to Ichiya, but without the food or drinks included.
If you are going with friends, you can also book an Air BnB – there are plenty of cute cottages and log cabins available to fit any budget.
Where To Eat
Both bread and The Beatles enthusiasts will definitely enjoy Bakery & Café Penny Lane. Here, you can sit down for a western style lunch surrounded by Beatles memorabilia or buy some tasty bread and pastries to go. They are most famous for blueberry bread, which they sell in loaves or as half a loaf, but other excellent choices are an apple pastry aptly named Ringo Starr, and my personal favorite – the Mystery Circle – which is a crunchy base topped with potatoes, bacon, mayo, and onions. It really hits the spot as a mid-afternoon snack.
Unfortunately, as with most places that have been shown on TV, Penny Lane is very popular, and often extremely busy. To avoid the crowds, I recommend going there right before closing – they don’t sell out of the favorites, but you can enjoy browsing in peace.
Cheese lovers, rejoice! There are many tasty treats to be found at the Cheese Garden. There’s a variety of sweet and savoury souvenirs to choose from here, but it is also worth taking advantage of the very reasonably priced café, where a pizza will only set you back ¥890. It’s a great option for lunch.
If it’s a special occasion, you can also try Shirasagitei – it is the slightly more upscale establishment located next to the main building, so be prepared for prices to match.
Where To Visit
Nasu Rindoko Lake View
For fun with the whole family, visit this lakeside location. You can stroll along the lake and take in the views or enjoy a variety of attractions such as a zip-line and Go Karts. There’s also a small farm and a petting zoo, and you can try soft cream made with fresh milk there. Entry is ¥1,600 for adults and ¥800 for kids, but this doesn’t include the attaractions.
Nasu Highland Park
Love Disneyland, but hate the crowds? This is the place for you! This theme park knows exactly where is stands – their recent tag line is #morefunthaniexpected. It may not have the polished veneer of Disney, but instead has some awesome rollercoasters that are much better. This coupled with VR attractions and a good selection of fairground rides means that you should invest in an all you can ride pass, which is ¥5,600 for adults and ¥3,900 for kids. The longest I ever had to wait in line is 10 minutes, so you can absolutely get your money’s worth.
Where To Shop: Nasu Garden Outlet
Bargain hunters will be pleased to know about this outlet mall, which makes for a good stop on your way back to Tokyo. Unlike outlets in Chiba and Gotemba, the Nasu location contains much more reasonably priced brands, and bigger discounts. A cute sweater for ¥3990, with a 30% discount on top? Yes, please. You can find brands like Desigual, Nike, Tefal, and Franc Franc to name a few, and the discounts can essentially make this trip pay for itself.
Getting to Nasu from Tokyo
Although it is possible to get to Nasu by train, getting around the town itself will be a problem, with buses few and far between. To make the most of your trip, I recommend driving. Here is a handy guide to car rental if you don’t own one.