Hamamatsu, situated on the western side of Shizuoka, is one of Japan's most productive manufacturing hubs. That's not all there is to this area, of course. There is plenty of recreational fun on offer thanks to the nearby Pacific, a river, mountains and a freshwater lake, Lake Hamana, with onsen resorts. Another draw is Hamamatsu Castle, built by Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1570 and where he lived during his rise to power.
Hamamatsu is easily accessible by shinkansen, regular train and bus, including buses from Mt. Fuji Shizuoka Airport.
Hamamatsu is a bullet train stop on the JR Tokaido Shinkansen, which is the most direct connection to Tokyo. Japan Rail Pass holders can access this train and other JR trains to the city. You can also take a Tomei Highway bus from Tokyo to Hamamatsu in from four to six hours. “E-wing” buses from Mt. Fuji Shizuoka Airport arrive in around 70 minutes.
Lake Hamana is the birthplace of Japan's eel-farming industry
Global brands such as Honda, Yamaha, Kawai and Suzuki originated here
Hamamatsu landmark Act Tower resembles a giant harmonica
The famous Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616) built Hamamatsu Castle
Hamamatsu is famous for its manufacturing. In fact, if you've ever bought a Japanese car, motorcycle, keyboard or other musical instrument, chances are it was lovingly manufactured right here in Hamamatsu.
Hamamatsu considers itself the town of music. If you make music or just love listening to it, plan a visit to the Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments. Around 1200 musical instruments from around the world are displayed here. You can even play some of them.
The legendary Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu lived in Shizuoka for almost all of his life. He built Hamamatsu Castle and lived here for 17 years. The castle and surrounding area is home to hundreds of cherry trees, a Japanese garden and expansive lawns for strolling and relaxing.
Hamamatsu is famous for unagi, or freshwater eel, and you should try this healthy signature dish of the region while in Hamamatsu. The people love eel so much here that they started making cookies containing eel extract. They call them eel pies, and you can tour the factory that makes them not far from the city center — they're the perfect gift for foodies.
You'll find blooms and fruits in awe-inspiring numbers at the Hamamatsu Flower Park and Hamamatsu Fruit Park. The former offers 100,000 flowers and plants in 3000 varieties, and has greenhouse exhibits, shops and restaurants. The latter lets you pick fruit in season, has greenhouses filled with the park's fruit, and there are day camp areas and playgrounds.
If you're into marine sports, head for the lake that's one of Japan's most popular, Lake Hamana. You can swim, fish, sail, windsurf and more on this placid body of water. Onsen resorts Bentenjima and Mikkabi line the shores, and there's also a dedicated cycling path that runs alongside the lake for 48 kilometers. Bike rentals are available at various stations on the route.
An unusual sight lies about 20 minutes away from Hamamatsu Station; sand dunes. The Nakatajima Dunes cover four kilometers along the Enshu Sea coastline. During the Hamamatsu Festival in early May, big kites battle on the sand, while at night elaborate floats roll through Hamamatsu's streets.