Mt. Bandai is famed for closely resembling Mt. Fuji. It reflects brilliantly onto the crystal-clear water of Lake Inawashiro, known as “Heaven's Mirror Lake.” With a host of activities to enjoy in its unmatched nature, the area around Lake Inawashiro is memorable during any season.
The best way to see Mt. Bandai, Lake Inawashiro and surrounding areas is by rental car.
However, there are other options available. If staying at a hotel, it might be worth checking to see if you can use a shuttle service from Koriyama Station, the closest Shinkansen stop. Otherwise, transfer at Koriyama Station to Inawashiro Station via the 40-minute rapid train towards Aizu-Wakamatsu. From there you can walk, bus or taxi to nearby facilities.
Visit during spring, and you may be surprised to still find snow on Mt. Bandai. Urabandai, the back of the mountain, will even have ski resorts still open.
As the weather heats up, eventually the area's greenery and few cherry blossoms spring to life. While you're there be sure to visit the “Oshika Zakura” elk cherry tree at Iwahashi Shrine, considered one of the Aizu district's five famous cherry trees. It is well worth the 3.5-kilometer trip from Inawashiro Station for blossom lovers.
The Summer months are slightly cooler here than the rest of Fukushima Prefecture. If you are feeling hot, go for a refreshing swim in the transparent lake. Or rent sports equipment to go fishing, boardsailing, or water skiing around the northern Nagahama shore. And if you're feeling hungry, enjoy slurping down some chilled soba noodles, which are made using the area's delicious natural underground water.
Lake Inawashiro is well-known as an excellent place to view autumn leaves. Trek through the fiery yellows, oranges, and reds of the mountains at Goshikinuma, or sit back and enjoy the colors at the “Five Colored Ponds.”
The whole area is a collection of 30 marshes and lakes, and as such provides the perfect aesthetic contrast for which to compare the colors of the leaves with the naturally occurring reds, yellows, blues and greens of the landscape.
And when you're done exploring, you can then escape the cooler weather or rest after a long day in one of the area's several hot springs.
Chill out during the long winter season at the adjacent 1,430-meter-high Mt. Bandai. Gear up with skis or a snowboard for the Alts Bandai or Inawashiro ski resorts on the front side of the mountain and admire the lake from this improved vantage point.
Or you could alternatively tackle Urabandai, the back of the mountain, open from early December to early May. Grandeco Snow Resort is known for its high-quality snow while Urabandai Nekoma resort is better if you want a more manageably-sized resort.
An interesting side attraction is a museum dedicated to the man on the 1,000-yen note. Learn about the life and achievements of Dr. Hideyo Noguchi (1876-1928) famous for his research on yellow fever. Step inside his parents' home to view some of the personal items from his life and gain a unique insight into the life of the famous scientist.