Lake Chuzenji was created about 20,000 years ago when the mountain, Mt Nantai, erupted and created a natural dam. The mountain was considered sacred and was closed to women, horses, and cows until 1872.
The lake drains through the Kegon Falls:
A scenic road on the far side leads up to a viewing area with great views of Mt Nantai and the mountains beyond:
Further up in the mountains above Nikko, about an hour by bus, is Chuzenji-ko lake. The area is relatively not overdeveloped and, being higher up (1269m), it is wonderfully cool in summer. But the best time to visit if possible is October when the spectacular autumn colours come out. These photos were taken with an old Nikon point-and-shoot in 2004 (I think) so perhaps not the best quality.
The lake has its inevitable ‘attractions’:
The highlight of the lake is the almost 100 metre Kegon Falls:
It’s also possible to take an elevator down to the base of the falls:
There are also some nice walks around the lake. Just past the main village is Futarasan Shrine:
While around on the other side is Chuzenji Shrine, from which comes the name of the lake:
View of Chuzenji-ko lake from Chuzenji shrine:
Many years ago, the area was apparently popular with foreign embassies as summer residences. This was the former Italian residence which features beautiful wood panelling:
The colours are spectacular as the sun descends and gives the lake a glistening golden shimmer: