Nasu Kogen is proudly promoted as a vacation spot of the Imperial family. Judging by the numerous pamphlets at the station's welcome center, the area, about an hour and a half north of Tokyo, certainly wants to offer something for the whole family — but not necessarily the royals.

Nasu Kogen (Nasu highlands), deep in Tochigi Prefecture, boasts a proper theme park full of white-knuckle rides, a teddy-bear museum and something called American Stars Museum, which features "Gothic World" as its main attraction. Or how about a safari park, a fishing park and the particularly intriguing World Monkey Park, which, incidentally, presents a flamingo and wild-boar show?

It's all for the taking, but those looking for a slightly less hectic getaway would be advised to ignore the attraction-packed tourist map and head straight to the shuttle bus bound for Art Biotop.