Sitting right at the center of Japan's main island, in the basin reaching from the Yatsugatake Mountains, Lake Suwa and its neighboring community has enough nature and culture to keep you exploring for days.
The Lake Suwa is easily accessible by train.
Lake Suwa is bordered by the cities of Kami-Suwa, Shimo-Suwa, and Okaya, it’s easily accessible by public transport and Kami-Suwa Station is the closest major station.
From Tokyo’s take the JR Azusa Chuo Line-Limited Express direct from Shinjuku to Kami-Suwa Station.
From Shin-Osaka station take the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen to Nagoya, and switch to the JR Shinano for Shiojiri Station, then make one final transfer to the Chou Line for Kami-Suwa Station.
Suwa is just a 20-minute train ride from Matsumoto.
Lake Suwa occupies the center of the Suwa region and there is plenty do along its shores. A cycling and jogging path runs 16 kilometers around the lake, bike rentals are available outside Suwa area stations and lakeside near Hotel Beniya.
Suwa is an onsen hot spot, so you may want to stop off for a soak. Katakurakan is a good option with its pool sized common bath. The free lakeside foot onsen beside the Lake Suwa Geyser Center is especially nice for viewing summer sunsets.
There are plenty of dining options near the water to fuel your ride. Seek out soba noodles in Kami-Suwa, grilled eel in Okaya, and Okinawan cuisine on the southern side of the lake.
Kami-Suwa holds a firework display almost every evening from mid-July until September at its Lakeside Park. Get there early to watch guests from the inns strolling in their yukata robes during sunset.
Almost a half-million people pour into Suwa for the mammoth Lake Suwa Fireworks in August. It's among Japan’s most lavish displays, they also host a repeat event a month later to show off their newer firework models.
Sample some sake at the breweries down the street from Kami Suwa Station, along with craft beer at the Reijin Brewery.
The town also has occasional craft fairs, concerts, and other events pop up lakeside throughout the warmer months. Check with Suwa's tourist information centers for details.
Suwa-taisha Shrine is one of Japan's oldest shrines and host to the famous Onbashira pillar riding festival which runs once every six years. The shrine has four locations on opposite sides of the lake.
Takashima Castle in Kami-Suwa Onsen was known as the "floating castle" back in the 16th century when the lake came right up to the ramparts. These days it's known as one of Suwa's best springtime cherry blossom viewing spots.
The historic Kamakura Road that connected the ancient capitals of Kyoto and Kamakura 800 years ago runs the length of the hills to the southwest of Lake Suwa. You'll pass old shrines and temples along the way, biking along with awesome views over the lake out to the Yatsugatake Mountains.