Japan is a blessed country with natural sights and spectacular views that can take anyone’s breath away. This includes some of the most amazing lakes in the world. Take a boat across to enjoy stunning views of the surrounding nature like giant mountains and seasonal foliage. Visitors can also enjoy fishing and even swimming in the lakes during the summer season. If you’re interested in seeing some of the best water Japan has to offer we put together a list of the 10 most beautiful lakes in Japan.
Lake Chuzenji (Tochigi)
Located in Japan’s sacred Buddhist city Nikko, Lake Chuzenji serves as a popular tourist destination in the area. Nikko is only two hours from Tokyo by train and is surrounded by multiple World Heritage Sites including the Toshogu Shrine, Kanmangafuchi Abyss, and the Shinkyo Bridge. The lake is located at the foot of Mt. Nantai is known as Japan’s largest and highest elevated natural lake. Nikko is an especially popular destination in the fall as the autumn foliage creates a beautiful picturesque scene around the city. During the summer season, visitors can also enjoy kayaking or rafting around Lake Chuzenji and the Kinugawa areas. Panoramic views are also possible from the sky from along the Chuenjiko Skyline.
Lake Kawaguchi (Yamanashi)
When Mt. Fuji became a World Heritage site in 2013, the Fuji Five Lakes region including Lake Kawaguchi was also registered along with it. It’s the 2nd largest of the five lakes and offers a beautiful view of Mt. Fuji. On a perfect day, the lake offers a beautiful reflection of Mt. Fuji in the lake known as “reverse Fuji”. The lake is particularly breathtaking when the seasonal foliage comes in. One of the nicest spots for pictures is on the seaside promenade near Kawaguchiko Music, where photographers can capture a tunnel of sakura flowers or momiji leaves surrounding Mt. Fuji.
Lake Biwa (Shiga)
Lake Biwa is the largest lake in Japan and is believed to be one of the oldest lakes in the world. The lake was formed over four million years ago and is surrounded by historical towns which offer historical shrines, temples, and castles for people to visit. Lake Biwa takes its name from its natural shape of a “biwa” which is a traditional Japanese lute. There’s plenty to do around the lake including cycling, hiking, and even swimming.
Lake Toya (Hokkaido)
Sitting at the entrance of Shikotsu-Toya National Park, Lake Toya offers picturesque views of the surrounding nature. The lake makes an excellent day trip from Sapporo to enjoy nature. Due to its proximity to Ainu culture, the name “toya” in the Ainu language means “lakeshore”. The nearly octagon lake has a floating island Nakashima in the center. The lake is surrounded by active volcanoes such as Mt. Usuzan and Showa Shinzan so it makes for a great destination to enjoy hot spring resorts. Visitors can also fish, hike, and camp around the lake.
Lake Towada (Aomori)
Often called the intersection between earth and the sky, the scenery alone makes it worth the trek up to the northern hemisphere. It Is part of the Towada Hachimantai National Park and is the largest caldera lake on Honshu island. The lake accounts for more than 60 sq kilometers on the border between Aomori and Akita prefectures. The lake is essentially a double caldera with an inlet trapped between two peninsulas which further adds to the allure of the area. It’s best to visit Lake Towada during the fall season since the autumn foliage is an attractive point for visitors, especially around the Oirase stream.
Lake Shirakaba (Nagano)
Nagano is well known for its nature and scenic hiking spots. Lake Shirakaba offers visitors a great hiking track on one end and an amusement park on the other. It’s an artificially made lake and its name translates to “silver birch”, for the many silver birches surrounding the area. Its most prominent feature is the small shrine with the red torii gate standing in the water. If you’re feeling a little adventurous small boats and canoes are available for rent as well.
Lake Ashinoko (Kanagawa)
Only an hour away from Tokyo, Hakone serves as a wonderful getaway for city dwellers. Situated in the center of Hakone, Lake Ashinoko was formed after Mt. Hakone’s last eruption over 3,000 years ago. On a perfect day, visitors can see Mt. Fuji peaking over the lake. The lake’s most interesting feature is the giant red torii gate standing in the lake which serves as a spectacular area to watch the sunset. It’s recommended that visitors come during the seasonal foliage to get the best experience of Lake Ashinoko and Hakone.
Lake Hamanako (Shizuoka)
Lake Hamanako is the largest of all brackish lakes in Japan and is a very scenic place surrounded by seasonal nature. It’s a saltwater lake whose south end leads to the Pacific ocean. Due to its ideal environment where seawater meets freshwater, there are over 800 kinds of fish and shellfish living in this lake. Since old times the fishing industry has flourished in the area leading to a rise in many seafood restaurants. The area where the Pacific meets the lake is called “imagire”. There is a giant red torii gate built on the lake which is a must-see during the summer season as the sunsets.
Lake Shinji (Shimane)
As the 7th largest lake in Japan, Lake Shinji is most famous for its beautiful sunset views and seafood. Connected to the sea by the Nakajima lagoon, its brackish water supports many varieties of marine life. The lake’s famed sunsets can be enjoyed from the water on a tour boat or from the Shimane Art Museum.
Lake Kinrin (Oita)
The morning mists surrounding Lake Kinrin make the area one of the best scenic spots in Kyushu. The lake gets its name from a Confucian scholar who spotted a gold-scaled fish in the waters around sunset one day. The mysterious morning mist occurs when water welling up from hot and cold springs mix. The lake is beautiful to see all year round, but the misty views in autumn are truly breathtaking. There are many onsens, restaurants, and cafes on the lake’s shores.
The cities might be the main focal point for visitors to come to Japan but nothing will ever beat Japan’s beautiful nature. The lakes are breathtaking and offer some of the best areas to learn about Japanese traditional culture and enjoy local cuisine.
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Jamila Brown is a five-year resident of Japan, teaching in the day and writing at night. She enjoys movies, reading, cosplaying, and eating good food in her downtime.