Lakes have a special place in my heart. They are just irresistible to stare at because of their beauty and the beneficial effects they give us. Believe it or not, they really helped me relieve my stress and anxiety when I was still working in a corporation. They’re just a lifesaver for me!
Because we will be visiting Japan soon, creating a bucket list of the most beautiful lakes in Japan seems reasonable. Planning to see the best places, experiencing the best of Japan, and enjoying every minute of our trip altogether is my goal. I just could not exclude the lakes as they are special to me.
So in this blog post, we will tackle the lakes in Japan. There are 100 lakes in Japan with size larger than 1 square kilometer, according to japandataarchive.com. However, I only picked the 18 most beautiful ones to narrow down the discussion. I based my judgment on the YouTube videos, Google map reviews, TripAdvisor reviews, and other recommendations by other websites.
I’ll tell you where we can find these lakes and what unique things we can discover from them if there are any. So without further ado, here are the most beautiful, Instagrammable lakes in Japan that we must see and visit. Let’s go!
Disclaimer: the photos I added to this post were captured at a very selected time with a powerful camera. They do not represent the view of each lake in everyday scenes. I just added these pictures to show you how beautiful each lake could get.
Lakes in Japan with the view of Mount Fuji
There’s nothing that would symbolize Japan more beautifully than Mount Fuji. Its conical shape and the ice-capped summit will forever attract people everywhere because of its spectacular and awe-inspiring image! It just blesses all the places around it with unimaginable beauty, and one of them is the lakes.
There are five famous lakes in Japan where we can spot Mount Fuji in the background. These lakes are called Fuji Five Lakes, and they are:
- Lake Kawaguchi
- Lake Yamanaka
- Lake Motosu
- Lake Shoji
- Lake Sai
However, if you will notice on the map, they are located in the north of Mount Fuji. Most visitors never heard of the lakes that are on the other side of the mountain. And honestly, they seem to give visitors a more beautiful perspective in sightseeing Mount Fuji. These lakes are:
- Lake Ashi
- Lake Tanuki
Let’s begin with the most accessible Fuji Five Lakes, Lake Kawaguchi. This lake is located between Fujikawaguchiko and Minobu in the southern Yamanashi Prefecture.
Here we can see Mount Fuji without any obstruction. There are many spots in the lake where we can stand in awe, witnessing its beauty. For me, the best part of exploring the area is be seeing the lake reflect Mount Fuji. It’s just so picture perfect!
Most suggest that we view Mount Fuji from the northern part of the lake to get the best views. At that spot, we can see cherry blossoms during spring, making the view extra-stunning.
The next spot is Lake Yamanaka, the largest of the Fuji Five Lakes and the third largest in Japan. Its surface altitude is situated at 980 meters above sea level, giving it a more pleasing view with clouds closer to its surface. We can find Lake Yamanaka also in Yamanashi Prefecture in Yamanakako Village.
Like Lake Kawaguchi, we can spot Mount Fuji from here without any obstruction. Also, we can spot the lake mirroring Mount Fuji in clear and still weather. What got my attention was the cute swans swimming in the lake. Some visitors call Lake Yamanaka “Swan Lake” because of the many swans floating everywhere on it.
However, the real deal about this lake is it is a spot where we can get a sight of the sun rising directly over the peak of Mount Fuji. This complements the glittering lake or Mount Fuji’s reflection on it, making it one true beautiful destination to visit.
The third lake we will talk about is the third largest and westernmost lake among Fuji Five Lakes. It is also located in Yamanashi Prefecture at the borders of Fujikawaguchiko and Minobu towns.
What’s cool about this lake is it’s the only one of the Fuji Five Lakes that never freezes during winter. Intriguing, right? Also, Lake Motosu is connected to the lakes that we will discuss next (Lake Shoji and Lake Sai) with underground waterways. Which kinda makes it, again, head-scratching. Here are more facts about Lake Motosu, if you want to know more.
Well, scientific facts aren’t very compelling reasons to visit a lake, right? But wait until you see the photo of the lake at the back of the Y5000 bill. Perhaps, it will convince you why this lake is worth a visit.
Let’s now see what’s on the other side of the spectrum. We’ve been talking about the highest elevated and largest lakes. So, I think we now discuss the smallest of the Fuji Five Lakes, the Lake Shojiko. It is located between and connected to Lake Sai and Lake Motosu. The underground waterways made these lakes level at the same altitude of 900 meters above sea level.
Though this lake is the smallest, it is dubbed as the “Switzerland of East Asia.” The name originated from the Englishmen explorers during the Meiji era who visited the lake and remarked it as a place with the most beautiful view of the mountain (Mount Fuji).
Lake Shoji also has the most unique view among the Fuji Five Lakes because Mount Omuroyama directly in the line of sight with Mount Fuji from the lake. This view was termed “Kodaki-Fuji,” meaning child hugging Fuji. Basically, it depicts Mount Omuroyama being hug by Mount Fuji.
Last of the Fuji Five Lakes but not least, is Lake Sai. Well, maybe it the least because of its commonalities with other lakes. But still, offers a great view of Mount Fuji, and itself especially during autumn when the surroundings are in vivid foliage colors. It is located in the town of Fujikawaguchiko in the southern Yamanashi Prefecture.
However, most people say it is a good place for fun activities like canoeing, camping, fishing, or even windsurfing! It’s an excellent place to sit back and relax in nature with a beautiful view of Mount Fuji and panoramic vistas in the background.
Before we go farther from mount Fuji, let’s talk about Lake Tanuki, the lake on the southern side of Mount Fuji. The lake is located in Fujinomiya city in the Shizuoka Prefecture. It is also included in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, to which the Fuji Five Lakes also belong.
But unlike the Fuji Five Lakes, Lake Tanuki was artificially made. Through diverting the waters of the Shiba River, the once swampy location turned into a tranquil lake. Now it serves as a reservoir for irrigation and an attraction for nature-loving tourists and photographers.
Like Lake Yamanaka, visitors and photographers can also spot and capture the sun in Lake Tanuki rising over the summit of Mount Fuji. The lake reflecting Mount Fuji and the rising sun from its peak creates a view most people call Double Diamond Mount Fuji
Lake Ashi is another lake in Japan where we can spot Mount Fuji above the pristine freshwaters. The lake is a caldera that was formed by the eruption of Mount Hakone 3000 years ago. It is located southeast of Mount Fuji in the Hakone area of Kanagawa Prefecture.
Though mount Fuji could still be seen from Lake Ashi, often we need to catch the right timing and season to see Mount Fuji from the lake. The lake is relatively far from Mount Fuji, so we should not expect to see it most of the time from the lake.
But what makes this lake beautiful aside from Mount Fuji at the backdrop are the sight of the Hakone Detached Palace Garden and the sightseeing boat cruising in the lake. The boats sailing in the lake are not just ordinary boats. They look like pirate ships! Who would not get excited to see one of them in person? If you want to learn more about these ships, you can visit the Hakone Sightseeing cruise website.
From what I saw from other photos online, the whole lake just gets better during some seasons when the shore is filled with different foliage colors during autumn. I can imagine the beauty of the lake, and perhaps it’s gonna make my camera’s memory loaded with pictures in an instant!
Hakone is one of the five towns in Japan that has a beautiful mountain view.
Lakes in Japan with mountain view
Lakes in Japan do not always need Mount Fuji to look stunning and beautiful. Views of the lake with the mountains in the backdrop, not necessarily Mount Fuji, are enough to make them really attractive! Mountains and lakes are just a perfect combination to make anyone that sees it feel awe-inspired, or sometimes, “restored.”
Here are the stunning lakes in Japan which have mountains in the backdrop to visit and behold:
Shiretoko Five Lakes
Shiretoko Goko, or Shiretoko Five Lakes, is the set of five lakes created by the eruption of Mount Io in Shari District in Hokkaido. It is a remote lake with raised boardwalks and trails jampacked with natural wonders. At the elevated wooden pavement, visitors see natural wonders without disturbing the natural setting of the area.
Lake Yonko, one of the lakes in Shiretoko, captivated me when I first had a glimpse of it. The beautiful mountains covered with thin snow and the forest reflected by the lake is just a breathtaking scene, more, especially in person. It kinda resembles the views of the European Alps or some Canadian national parks.
Located in Semboku City in Akita Prefecture, we can see the deepest lake in Japan. Like lake Ashi, Lake Tazawa is a caldera lake formed after the collapse of a volcano after its eruption. One of the most appealing parts of the lake is the Ukiki Shrine, with colors that contrast the colors of the mountains and the lakes during winter.
掬茶, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
With this photo, who can deny that Lake Tazawa is a beautiful lake? None! The views of the lake are also lovely, even if it is not winter. Yet, it is not as stunning as when snowing, like what is shown in the photo.
The statue of Tatsuko, a folklore girl character who was cursed and turned into a dragon, is another thing to see in the lake. It is just beside the Ukiki Shrine. Together, they make a view super irresistible to capture with our cameras. On the other side of the lake, we can see Gozanoishi Shrine with a red Torii facing the lake. It’s also an Instagrammable spot we should not miss when we visit Lake Tazawa.
Being situated at 1269 meters above sea level, Lake Chuzenji is hailed as Japan’s one of the highest elevation lakes. This setting allows the lake’s visitors to see mystic sceneries along the lakeshore, with clouds lying closer to the ground, a scenic view that mostly happens during sunrise.
Lake Chuzenji is located in Nikko National Park, the town of Nikko in Tochigi Prefecture. It is surrounded by rivers, mountains, and waterfalls, making the lake an ultimate destination for nature lovers.
I must not forget to state here the Kegon waterfall located at the edge of Lake Chuzenji. Because it is a stunning, majestic 100-meter tall waterfall that everybody should not miss seeing. But to really be in absolute awe, we must visit Lake Chuzenji during autumn. The fall foliage combined with the lake, waterfall, and mountains shall create one really magnificent sight to behold.
If lakes in Japan is beautiful, wait until you see it’s countryside. Check the most charming Japanese countryside in my other post.
Lake Inawashiro may be the last lake listed under this section, yet, I guarantee it is the best you’ll ever discover here. This lake is the fourth-largest lake in Japan, also known as “Heavenly Mirror Lake.”
The lake got this name because, during extremely calm weather, it acts as a mirror of Mount Bandai. Anyone, I think, who will see this in person will definitely be carried away by its incomparable beauty.
This lake is located in Fukushima Prefecture, situated at an altitude of 514 meters above sea level. One of the things that we should not miss about Lake Inawashiro, aside from its crystal and mirror-like waters, is the migration of snow geese on the lake shores.
Other beautiful lakes in Japan to discover
Some lakes just own an unexplainable charm that makes them beautiful just by themselves:
In Akan National Park in eastern Hokkaido, we can find the 6th largest lake in Japan called Lake Kussharo. It is a caldera lake with a volcanic island in the center. People call the island “Nakajima.” For me, it’s what makes the lake beautiful and unique among the lakes in Japan.
Two unmissable events happen in Lake Kussharo. First is the movement of the whooper swans during winter, which is definitely amusing to watch. The second is an environmental phenomenon called Omiwatari, happening during winter. We can notice Omiwatari occurring when we see the ice in the lake form cracks and pushed upwards. Omiwatari happens due to the changing temperature making the ice contract and expand.
Goshikunuma, also called “Five Colored Lakes,” is the result of the eruption of Mount Bandai in the year 1887. The chemicals spitted by the volcano mixed into the water of the newly formed ponds and lakes 3 kilometers away from Mount Bandai.
The beauty of these lakes is pretty much characterized by their colors. However, the fall foliage makes them more beautiful, creating contrasting colors with the lakes, ultimately turning the sceneries in the park absolutely stunning.
Lake Kinrin is a lake with mystic views located in Yufin city in Oita Prefecture. It is best known for various onsen and the strange mists forming in the mornings of winter and autumn due to the mixing of hot and cold water. This mist coming from the lake itself is the thing that makes it so pretty. It seems it brings anyone who can see it into another world of fantasy like elven dwellings.
Though Lake Kinrin is small, the beautiful trees, especially during autumn, significantly turn the lake attractive. The small area of Lake Kinrin enables the visitors to walk around it, seeing the lake change colors depending on what is reflected on the lake.
Knowing these lakes in Japan makes me more eager to visit the country as soon as ever. Japan has beautiful lakes to show us all year round regardless of the season. Lakes with Mount Fuji and other mountains in the backdrop are just so compelling to visit!
But then again, since lakes are natural attractions, their beauty will always depend on many factors like weather and season. We should always have accurate expectations whenever we plan to visit them to not end up disappointed. You might as well check other Japan’s natural wonders in my other blog post to see more attractions in Japan aside from lakes.
Ultimately, may this blog post help you plan your itinerary if you are currently working on it. Or at least inspire you to finally book that ticket to Japan and get the vacation that you’ve always wanted to have. Live life! 🙂
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