The 48 hairpin turns of Irohazaka is Japan's ultimate drive.

 If you fancy a motoring challenge, you must try Irohazaka - a pair of staggeringly scenic roads each with 48 hairpin bends. Built in 1954 and 1965 the roads connect the UNESCO temples of Nikko with the higher plateau of Lake Chuzenji and Nikko National Park. One road is for upwards traffic, while the other is for vehicles travelling back down.

The number of bends, 48, also corresponds with the number of syllables in Japanese - and the name i-ro-ha refers to the first three sounds in the old Japanese alphabet system while zaka means slope.

The road is particularly beautiful from late October to early November when the autumn colours appear. This does make it an extremely popular drive at this time of year and there can be long traffic queues so InsideJapan's top tip is to avoid national holidays and weekends in October and November, and to set off as early as possible in the morning.


located in Nikko

Read more >

Interested in this Experience? It is included in this tour:

  • Discover splendid mountain scenery and hot spring towns in this intrepid driving itinerary along the famous Romantic Road.

    Romantic Road

    Swap bullet trains for the freedom of a rental car as you set off to discover some of the lesser-known spots on Honshu island. From the mountains and forests of Nagano to the hot springs of Gunma Prefecture, this itinerary combines scenic vistas with a stay among the bright lights of the capital.

    Read more >

    Discover splendid mountain scenery and hot spring towns in this intrepid driving itinerary along the famous Romantic Road.

Other Transport experiences

View more >
  • Kyushu Seven Stars

    Kyushu Seven Stars

    Move over Orient Express - this luxury sleepr train combines beautiful, wood-clad carriages, luxurious cabins and French-Japanese fusion cuisine.

    Read more >

  • Arashiyama rickshaw

    Arashiyama rickshaw

    There is no better way to see Kyoto's Arashiyama district than from the seat of a jinrikusha rickshaw.

    Read more >

  • Taxis


    Like hailing a yellow cab in NYC or hanging on for dear life in the back of a Thai tuk tuk, taking a taxi in Japan is a memorable travel experience.

    Read more >

  • Helicopter cruising in Tokyo

    Helicopter cruising in Tokyo

    There is no better way to appreciate the vastness of Tokyo than by helicopter.

    Read more >

  • Hozugawa boat ride

    Hozugawa boat ride

    Take a trip down the Hozu River in Kyoto's stunning Arashiyama district.

    Read more >

  • Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

    Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

    Enjoy stunning vistas while traversing the Japanese Alps via a series of trains, cable cars, trolley buses, ropeways, tunnels and hiking routes.

    Read more >