The road from Nikko to Lake Chuzenji used to have 48 curves. That has been mercifully cut down to 30 - but many of them are switchbacks. We've been on that road when it takes 2+ hours to travel the 14 or so kilometers.
Now, with few people willing to visit Tohoku, which is where the lake is located - even though it is about 160 kilometers from the damaged nuclear plant - the drive time is much shorter. Today it only took about 20 minutes and the parking lots that are normally overflowing were either completely deserted or only held a few cars (and most of those were trout fishermen).
Sadly, for the businesses that depend on the tourists coming in to spend a few yen, the number of people visiting the region is way down. We stopped for lunch in a restaurant on a hill overlooking Lake Chuzenji and there were only about 10 customers in the place - they have room for a couple hundred as they usually get buses full of customers.
We went on up the road to Yu-no-ko (Lake Yu), which is a small lake with a loverly waterfall at the southern end that drops 70 meters from the lake to the base. The air has a slight sulphur smell thanks to the hot springs in the area - thus the lake's name - which means "warm (or hot) water" - even though the water is not really hot in the lake. It's not so cold either and there are 4 species of trout in the lake. There were several people fishing today. Some in boats, some in waders, some from the shore and most all were catching a few trout.
Photos below are from Lake Yu.
Unfortunately, the drive home wasn't quite as smooth as someone decided to crash & burn (well, we don't know if they burned - sure hope not) on the Tohoku Expressway and there was one area of 14 kilometers that was going to take 2 hours to cover. No way! We got off the highway & took the local roads. I don't know that we saved any time, but it was more interesting than sitting on the expressway watching the back end of the car in front of us for 2 or more hours.
The southern end of Lake Yu - where the waterfall starts
Trout fishing on Lake Yu
Lake cat - Where's my fish!!??
Winter took a toll on the tree around the lake.