A Stroll Under the Stars at Chateau De L’espoir Which Looks Like a European Castle in Nasu

A Stroll Under the Stars at Chateau De L’espoir Which Looks Like a European Castle in Nasu
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In Tochigi Prefecture’s Otawarashi there is a hotel where you can stargaze at a hotel that feels like a European castle and it is called “Fureainooka Chateau de L’espoir”. On the grounds of this hotel is an authentic planetarium called “Fureainooka Tenmonkan” and it is an important place for stellar observation in Japan. This is what it really means to have the stars shower down onto you! Let us take you through the details of Chateau de L’espoir and the various facilities of Fureainooka which was elected by the Ministry of the Environment 4 times as the best place to see the stars.

Chateau de L’espoir’s unique welcoming stained glass window entrance

a stroll under the stars at chateau de l’espoir which looks like a european castle in nasu | chateau de l’espoir’s unique welcoming stained glass window entrance

Chateau de L’espoir’s unique welcoming stained glass window entrance The luxurious stained glass entrance makes quite an impression for guests coming to Chateau de L’espoir. There are a total of 30 rooms here, 20 regular Japanese and western mixed style, 6 western style, 2 Japanese style, 2 special Japanese style, as well as a large communal bath, and restaurants. Also the pricing is reasonable making it ideal for group stays here.

The menu here is popular with its mix of Japanese and western foods using only the best of local seasonal ingredients. The food menu items for guests are named in relation to stellar observations. Such as “Etoile”, “Soleil” and “Ciel” for the stars, sun, and sky. Of course visitors can dine as well as hotel guests.

The lunch is particularly voluminous and popular with the younger crowds. For those that want to stay, play, and enjoy the facilities all day at Fureainooka this large meal is welcome as well. They also serve Makunouchi and Shokado bentos which are a joy to eat on the hill of Chateau de L’espoir when the weather is nice.

Not only is there star gazing, you can do any number of activities as a guest here. At the Fureainooka grounds there is the Planetarium as well as a wood working shop “Ki, Take Kougeikan”, the pottery shop “Tougekan”, and large workshop “Daikobo” where you can use wood, bamboo, clay and paint to create all kinds of things. There is also a building where you can experience a luxurious tea ceremony called the “Chashitsu”, in either the large room or the smaller more private rooms.

There is also a large wooded area in the mountains behind Chateau de L’espoir where you can observe nature and its many flora and fauna unique to each season. At the “Shizen Kansatsukan” building you can learn about the evolution of different animals and plants, as well as the mystery of nature and how humans can live together with them. There are different displays such as a rhinoceros and stag beetle display, an aquatic life display, an insect Q&A, and an insect and plant model display.

Chateau de L’espoir stands on a massive grassy hill! It is a hotel where the stars are bright and clear

a stroll under the stars at chateau de l’espoir which looks like a european castle in nasu | chateau de l’espoir stands on a massive grassy hill! it is a hotel where the stars are bright and clear

As you can see pictured above the castle like hotel, “Fureainooka Chateau de L’espoir” stands on a very large hill. There are no large trees or mountains to block the view and no light pollution making it the perfect place to observe the stars even with the naked eye.

The best time to go is between fall and winter when the night air is clear and clean, really the perfect season for star gazing.

From this grassy hill you can take some amazing images of the star filled sky if you have a DSLR or mirrorless camera.

Now that night has fallen it’s time to start observing.

• Some tips to take the perfect picture of the starlit skies

A wide lens is recommended but if you don’t have one a 18-55mm F3.5~5.6 kit lens will work too, as long as the aperture can be below 4 it shouldn’t be a problem. Get as wide as you can (18mm on a 18-55mm lens) and open up the aperture as much as possible and slow down your shutter speed or use bulb mode and bring it down to 15 seconds or so. Focus your camera to infinity then set the focus to the brightest star you can see. Most will set it to focus on stars like the Cassiopeia constellation or the North Star.

Set you ISO to between 3200 and 6400 and take 2 to 3 shots to determine what the best setting is.

When the ISO is too high you will have noise in your image. If you set your ISO too low you will have to have longer exposure time.

If you set your shutter to longer than 30 seconds it looks like the stars are moving in your picture. The earth rotates 360 degrees. In an hour the earth rotates 15 degrees, so your pictures will show the stars move that much. Those pictures are stunning but if you want the stars to be still then set the shutter speed faster.

The most important thing when taking pictures of the stars is that the camera stays still. The shutter will be open longer so it is paramount that you don’t move the camera. Use a sturdy tripod and make sure it doesn’t budge. If you use a remote shutter release button you can release the shutter without touching the camera, but if you don’t have one then use the self-timer to take a picture.

Tenmonkan where you can see the North Star right above you

a stroll under the stars at chateau de l’espoir which looks like a european castle in nasu | tenmonkan where you can see the north star right above you

The hill Fureainooka where Chateau de L’espoir is in Tochigi’s Otawarashi City has been elected by the Ministry of the Environment 4 times as the best place to watch the stars. At the Fureainooka Tenmonkan observatory there is the largest mirror telescope in the prefecture with a 65cm lens through which you can really feel the majesty of space and contemplate the smallness of the earth.

(Pictured above you can see the North Star right above the Tenmonkan observatory. Please magnify the image to see it clearer.)

Take a walk among the stars with the impressive 65cm mirror telescope!

a stroll under the stars at chateau de l’espoir which looks like a european castle in nasu | take a walk among the stars with the impressive 65cm mirror telescope!

The Tenmonkan’s dome shaped Celestial Body Observation Room houses a 65cm mirror telescope, and is computer controlled to find and track any star or planet you want to. The view of the stars, moons, and planets as well as galaxies through such a large telescope is truly breathtaking. Also, because of the Duel Wonder Eye system 2 people can view at the same time making waiting times short.

At night a 15cm refracting telescope is setup outdoors to view different objects from the 65cm telescope. At the outdoor observation space you can see a fully star filled sky.

• The Tenmonkan allows you to take pictures using your cell or smartphone to take extraordinary pictures. You just put the smartphone camera lens up to the view finder of the telescope and you can take pictures of craters on the moon or other planets. (*DSLRs and compact camera pictures are not allowed to be taken like this so please be careful!)

At the dome observation facility you can view the stars and planets in the daytime too!

at the dome observation facility you can view the stars and planets in the daytime too!

At Tenmonkan, you can see the brighter stars during the day as well. When the moon is out observing the moon is also possible. You can view Mercury, Venus and with the proper precautions solar prominences and black spots on the sun from the 65cm telescope.

At night for first timers you can choose the really popular ones to view, as well as explanations of the night sky with a laser pointer to know what you are looking at.

The first floor of Tenmonkan houses a screen type planetarium and you can see the different skies over the year and really learn in detail of the night sky so you can find the stars that you want easily.

On the roof of Tenmonkan is the Sun Telescope which is a 10cm refracting telescope that has special filters on it so you can view the sun’s black spots as well as solar prominences. The sun will be extremely active the next few years so it will be exciting to see this here.

To wrap up Chateau de L’espoir and Tenmonkan at Otawarashi’s Fureainooka!

Tochigi Prefecture’s Otawarashi Fureainooka has been elected as the number 1 place to continuously view the stars by the Ministry of the Environment. It is the best location to view the stars with its clear air, wide view, lack of light pollution, and the hotel Chateau de L’espoir where the stars are easily seen, and Tenmonkan as well as the other facilities on the grounds.

Other than the serious observation at Tenmonkan, the skies around the inn have an unhindered view all around so just lying in the grass and just watching the skies like that is fun too. If you have a simple set of binoculars it is enough to enjoy many of the stars above. If you have a need to see some stunning skies you have to make a trip up here.

• Otawarashi Fureainooka Chateau de L’espoir 1411-22 Fukuwara, Otawara, Tochigi Prefecture 324-0024 Phone: 0287-28-3131

• Otawarashi Fureainooka Tenmonkan 1411-22 Fukuwara, Otawara, Tochigi Prefecture 324-0024 Phone: 0287-28-3254

*To visit Tenmonkan reservations are needed Tenmonkan hours are: 9am to 9:30pm and last entry is 8:30pm

Access • Tohoku Expressway (18km from Nishi Nasuno Shiobara IC) 30min • Tohoku Expressway (15km from Yasaka IC) 25min

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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