Action & Adventure
Watersports enthusiasts, amateurs and professionals alike, will find much to do in Nagano. A number of the prefecture's lakes offer flatwater kayaking in beautifully clear waters amid gorgeous mountain scenery. The Sai River north of Matsumoto offers downriver tours as well.
To reach Lake Ontake and Lake Shizenko:
The closest train station to Lake Shizenko is Kiso Fukushima. From Tokyo, take the JR Limited Express Azusa from Shinjuku Station. Transfer at Shiojiri for the JR Limited Express Shinano to Kiso Fukushima Station. From there, take the Ontake Kotsu Bus to Otaki Village.
From northern Nagano, Kiso Fukushima is a straight shot on the Shinano Express from Nagano City (90 minutes) or Matsumoto (40 minutes).
From Kiso Fukushima, take the Ontake Kotsu bus to Otaki's village center (40 minutes). The tourist center is right across from the bus stop.
To reach Lake Nojiri:
Take a bullet train to Nagano. Travelling time is approximately 90 minutes from JR Tokyo Station. Transfer to a train bound for Myokokogen and alight at Kurohime station. To get to Lake Nojiri take the Nagaden bus from Kurohime Station.
To reach Lake Aoki:
The closest station to Lake Aoki is Shinano-Kizaki Station.
Take a bullet train to Nagano. Travelling time is approximately 90 minutes from JR Tokyo Station. Take a Shinano Express bound for Matsumoto Station. From there, transfer to the JR Oito Line for Shinano-Omachi. From Shinano-Omachi Station, continue on the Oito Line for Minami-Otari and disembark at Shinano-Kizaki Station.
All kayaking tours need to be booked in advance
The kayaking season usually runs from April through October, but check individual providers for details
An ancient glacial lake less than four hours from Tokyo and about 20 kilometers north of the city of Nagano, Lake Nojiri is buttressed by a number of mountains. The area boasts an international resort feel, due in part to the lake's development in the 1920s by a Canadian missionary. The Shinetsu Shizenkyo Activity Center runs half-day and full-day kayaking tours of the lake.
Based in Hakuba, the Evergreen Outdoor Center offers half-day kayaking on the incredibly pure Lake Aoki at the foot of the Northern Alps in Omachi. Another option is signing up for a full-day adventure pack combining kayaking with a half-day of mountain biking or their popular canyoning excursion.
The firm also provides one and two-day kayaking tours on the nearby Sai River, which flows from the Northern Alps. The Sai River features gentle class one and two rapids suitable for beginners.
The Kiso Valley's Otaki Village at the foot of Mt. Ontake has two great kayaking options. The first is on Lake Ontake, a reservoir with amazing views of Mt. Ontake. You'll paddle far and wide on the lake itself, and then head up the beautiful Seto River for a change of scenery. Tours are run through the Otaki Tourist Center.
Lake Shizenko is one of Nagano's most remote, and unique, kayaking experiences. The lake was created by a 1984 earthquake when a massive landslide from Mt. Ontake dammed a part of the Otaki River.
The surrounding forest was submerged, and the remains of the trees still rise from the lake like ghosts. The result is a stunning work of nature. Halfway through the tour, you leave the main part of the lake and paddle through a towering section of canyon.
The eco-tourism award winning Ontake Adventure runs the kayaking tours on Lake Shizenko.