Legends accompany Japan’s deepest lake.
Cute Akita puppies are usually what come to mind when thinking about Akita, but when it comes to the most famous landmark in this prefecture, it’s got to be Lake Tazawa. Although located in a rather remote area, trust us, it’s worth it for the historical and natural sightseeing ahead.
Depending on the season of your visit, the lake may appear a beautiful jade green or indigo blue, and with a depth of 423 meters, Tazawa is Japan’s deepest lake. This near-circular body of water is located about 70 kilometers from Akita City (about a 1.5-hour-drive) and in close proximity with the mountains nearing Iwate Prefecture. Traveling by car is the easiest option, but tour buses throughout the day would take you around the lake, too.
Different sides of the lake
No matter which side of the lake you’re on, it has plenty of attractions. At the northern part, you’ll find the Goza-no-ishi Shrine (Map). The shrine is impossible to miss as you’ll come across a grand bright red torii gate there. Legend has it that feudal lords frequented the shrine in order to receive inspiration from the sapphire blue waters below. The shrine is free and open daily 24/7.
Another symbolic point of the lake is the Tatsuko Statue at the western end (Map). This golden statue depicts a beautiful lady who, according to legend, prayed to have eternal beauty but was instead cursed and turned into a dragon. She is now believed to be a guardian of Lake Tazawa.
If you’re looking to spend more time at the lake, head to the eastern side. Not only are you going to find souvenir shops and restaurants, but you can also rent bicycles to ride around the lake, which is great for budget travelers at around ¥1,000 for a full day. Biking around the entire body of water takes around 2-to-3 hours, depending on your fitness. Walking, on the other hand, is a bit more of a journey. It’ll be about 4 ½ to 5 ½ hours to go around it, depending on how many breaks you take! For effortless voyages, consider taking a tour bus or sightseeing boat that shows you the best of Lake Tazawa.
Tour bus and sightseeing boat
For visitors without a car, the tour bus is your next best bet. Hop on one of the six daily tour buses from the eastern end and let it take you around the entire lake, covering the must-see Goza no Ishi Shrine and the Tatsuko Statue — both free for entrance and open for access at all times!
The best way to enjoy the lake, though, is riding a 40-minute sightseeing boat. On top of getting panoramic views, you will also get to learn about the history of the Tatsuko Statue and the lake itself through audio commentary during the boat ride. This boat offers four services a day when it’s in operation from late April to early November. Catch it from Shirahama Port which is only a few minutes’ walk away from Tazawa-Kohan bus terminal. The trip costs ¥1,200 for adults and ¥600 for children.