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The Most Scenic Lakes in Japan

An archipelago of nearly 7000 islands, the country’s coastline is perhaps more iconic than its inland lakes. Treat yourself to stunning vistas and breathtaking landscapes at one of these scenic lakes.
Although it can often necessitate a modest trek, getting beyond urban Japan has its own rewards. Making the expedition to one of Japan’s scenic lakes is a fine start.

The Most Scenic Lakes in Japan

CONTENTS

  • Lake Biwa

  • Lake Motosuko

  • Lake Towada

  • Lake Okushima

  • Lake Chuzenji

  • Lake Mashu

  • Lake Biwa

    Lake Biwa

    Lake Biwa

    One of the world’s oldest lakes, Lake Biwa, named its resemblance—in shape—to the biwa lute carried by the goddess Benzaiten, and the Omi region (the former name of Shiga Prefecture where the lake lies) were home to the earliest civilizations in the country and have long been celebrated in song and poetry. JR's Biwako Line begins in Kyoto and deposits travelers at various points around the lake, including Omihachiman, a city home to merchant mansions and stone walkways along the Hachimanbori Canal, and, near Hikone Station, Hikone Castle, a well-preserved castle with views of the lake.

  • Lake Motosuko

    Lake Motosuko

    Lake Motosuko

    One of the bodies of water that make up the Fuji Five Lakes, a group of lakes at the base of Mt. Fuji, Lake Motosuko is perhaps most famous for its iconic view of the mountain—if you’ve ever wondered where the view of Mt. Fuji on the 1000 yen note was captured, it was Motosuko. There are several hiking trails in the region, heading out to spots with great views of the surrounding landscape. Despite its scenic beauty, Motosuko is underappreciated; and it feels thousands of miles away from the bustling metropolis on its doorstep.

  • Lake Towada

    Lake Towada

    Lake Towada

    Located in an active volcanic caldera in Towada National Park, Lake Towada has become a hotspot for travelers in northern half of Japan. Convenient even without all the gear, Towada is a great place to camp and canoe. Around Utarube, outfitters and campgrounds welcome travelers of all skill levels to trip out onto the lake and environs. For a truly bizarre side trip from Utarube, venture east to the village of Shingo and its Tomb of Jesus Christ. It was in Shingo that Yamane Kiku, an archeologist, decided that Jesus Christ hid out after fleeing the Middle East and dying of natural causes a century later.

  • Lake Okushima

    Lake Okushima

    Lake Okushima

    Created by the construction of the Shimagawa Dam, Lake Okushima is worth the trip from the Shima Onsen area. After arriving by bus in Shima Onsen from Nakanojo Station, the walk to the lake takes about a half hour. The lake’s crystal blue waters are fed by the same streams that run through the hot springs resort.

  • Lake Chuzenji

    Lake Chuzenji

    Lake Chuzenji

    Getting to this scenic lake near Nikko involves a journey up the Irohazaka, one of the twistiest roads in the country, and a ride on the Akechidaira Cable Car. There are events year round and the scenery is vastly different depending on what season you arrive in. The lake is drained by the mighty Kegon Falls, one of the most scenic waterfalls in the world.

  • Lake Mashu

    Lake Mashu

    Lake Mashu

    Hokkaido’s Lake Mashu is a young, clear lake that fills the Mashu caldera. To the Ainu, the aboriginal people of this northern island, this was the Lake of the Devil, perhaps from the blankets of mist and fog that frequently cloak the lake in a mysterious haze. The lake and the observatories around it are best visited by car. The landscape is particularly stunning in winter, although the trip out is made treacherous by snowy conditions.

    Lake Biwa
    Address
    Shiga Prefecture
    Phone
    Lake Motosu
    Address
    Yamanashi Pref. Minamitsurugunfujikawaguchikomachi Motosu
    Phone
    0555872518
    Lake Towada
    Address
    Aomori Pref. Towadashi Okuse
    Phone
    Lake Okushima
    Address
    Gunma Pref. Agatsumagunnakanojoumachi Shima
    Phone
  • Lake Chuzenji
    Address
    Tochigi Pref. Nikkoushi Chugushi
    Phone
    Lake Mashu
    Address
    Hokkaido Kawakamigunteshikagachou
    Phone
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