Ten kilometres west of Nikkō lies CHŪZENJI-KO (中禅寺湖) and the dramatic Kegon Falls (華厳の滝) that flow from it. Frequent local buses (¥1100 each way) usually take less than an hour to get here, running east from the train stations in Nikkō along Route 120 and up the twisting, one-way road to reach Chūzenji, the lakeside resort, though travelling times can easily be doubled – or even tripled – during kōyō in mid-October, the prime time for viewing the changing autumn leaves, when it’s bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Both the lake and waterfalls were created thousands of years ago, when nearby Mount Nantai (男体山; 2486m) erupted, its lava plugging the valley. Walking west along the shore for around 1km will bring you to the second Futarasan-jinja (二荒山神社) of the Nikkō area. This colourful shrine, which once bore the name now adopted by the town, has a pretty view of the lake, but is nothing extraordinary. There’s also a third Futarasan-jinja, on the summit of the sacred volcano of Nantai-san, which is owned by the shrine. To reach it you’ll have to pay ¥500 and hike up the 2484m peak; it takes around four hours and should only be attempted in good weather.

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