VIDEO| Exploring Japan: A scenic drive on the Venus Line

Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi
Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi

VIDEO| Exploring Japan: A scenic drive on the Venus Line

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Japan

Lately my wife and I have been experiencing some cabin fever, so we decided to head towards Nagano Prefecture’s nice, cool mountainous terrain.

For our drive, we hit the Venus Line, a 47-mile-long highway connecting Chino City and Utsukushigahara Heights. The Venus Line is known as one of the most scenic driving destinations in Japan and here you’ll find impressive, picturesque landscapes, beautiful parks and a large open-air museum.

Lake Tateshanako and Lake Shirakabako are great spots to stop for a brisk walk as their promenades are surrounded by beautiful, fragrant white birch and pine trees. At the Fujimidai and Kirinoeki parking lots, you can enjoy a nice short hike up a hill with foliage stretching as far as the eye can see. At the top, check out a great view of the Southern Alps.

At the end of the Venus Line, Utsukushigahara Open-Air Museum, sits on a plateau 6,562-feet high above sea level. The outdoor gallery features 350 modern sculptures and artwork. Walking amongst the beautiful pieces in this “museum in the sky” made us feel as if we were exploring in the ruins of an old civilization.

Our drive along the Venus Line recharged us enough to last us until the next time we’re able to go out for a drive. It’s only four hours from Tokyo and many of the Kanto Plain’s U.S. military bases. If you’re due for some recharging, plan your own trip to the mountains via the scenic, refreshing Venus Line.

Venusline: website

Utsukushigahara Open-Air Museum: website

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