A beautiful hike in Nikko Japan
Senjogahara (戦場ヶ原) means battlefield in Japanese. However, it is only a mythological battle. Often it is spelled incorrectly Senjoughara, which is as incorrect as spelling Tokyo as Toukyou.
The trail from Ryuzu Waterfall to Yumoto Onsen is the most beautiful hike in Nikko Japan. Especially from spring to fall, it is like Alice's wonderland with it's array of colors, changing perspectives and different views. Senjogahara's yellow brick road is a wooden boardwalk throughout the trail. As the main trail follows the naturally shaped Yu River (yukawa) the marshland and you get a view of the marshland, the view constantly changes as different mountains appear in the background. Sometimes the trees can be quite thick and you feel as though you are lost in a deep forest.
The 2 best options for getting to the trailhead is to purchase the Yumoto or Senjogahara bus pass or the All Nikko Pass in Tokyo BEFORE you get to Nikko. It actually costs more money to pay the bus driver on the way there and back.
Although the main trail can be hiked in 2-3 hours, there are several tracks crisscrossing each other that bring you to more beautiful scenes in the area. Ideally, you could spent days in the area with the incredible hikes that crisscross or other separated great hikes nearby.
Everyone can hike Senjogahara as it is a plateaux and mostly flat. If any bit of "climbing" is not possible for you, you can start at Akanuma bus stop instead of at Ryuzu waterfall (See below for info on Akanuma).
The trail from Akanuma starts pretty simple following Yu river (yukawa). There are many picnic tables in the park. There are many photographic opportunities; footbridges, trees, flowers and wildlife, all from the boardwalk along Yu river (yukawa).
There are wood plank boardwalks across some of the protected wetlands that not only protect the park, but also keep your feet out of the mud if you get caught in the rain.
There are great views looking north toward Lake Yu (yunoko) and Yumoto Onsen and to the east; Nantail Mountain and Nyoho mountain.
If you've hiked up from Ryuzu, you can turn east(left) toward Akanuma bus stop and pick up some supplies at the General Store >
At Yu waterfall (yutaki), there is a restaurant that is open sometimes.
A great place to watch the sunset is on the street near Sanbonmatsu. From there the sun will set behind the mountains over Senjogahara.
We were lucky after the rain and just before sunset to get a view of a double rainbow over Nantai Mountain.