This is the lake from Kimi no Na wa!

While the lake is fictional in the movie, it is based on Lake Suwa, a body of water in the central region of Nagano Prefecture, Japan.

Lake Suwa, located in the middle of the city, is one of Japan’s most famous lakes. It is known for its hot springs (onsen) and the spectacular Suwa Fireworks Festival where 40,000 fireworks take off, enchanting tourists every summer.

The Suwa area is also known as the “Switzerland of the East”, home to many watchmakers, glassmakers, music box and other precision manufacturers.

Here’s our sample 1-day itinerary of Suwa City.

 

NAGANO SERIES:
• MATSUMOTO CITY GUIDE: TOP 10 ACTIVITIES!
• MATSUMOTO CASTLE: Guide & Tips for Tourists!
• SUWA, NAGANO: Guide to Nagano’s Lakeside City!
• Zenkoji: Guide To Nagano’s 1400-Year-Old Temple!
• NAGANO, JAPAN: Top 10 Things To Do!

HOW TO GET THERE:

Suwa City is located on the JR Chuo line that provides easy access from Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.

From Shinjuku (Tokyo) via JR Chuo Line (Limited Express Super Asuza) -> Kami-Suwa (2.2hr travel time)

 

SUWA TAISHA

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When visiting Japan, a stop at some of the most beautiful temples and shrines that this country has to offer is certainly high up on most travelers’ lists.

Suwa city is famous for its 1,200-year-old Shinto Shrines, the main one being Suwa Taisha (Suwa Grand Shrine) of Shinto origin. It is one of the oldest shrines in Japan.

The deity worshipped here is Takeminakata-no-kami, the main god of the eastern provinces who commands over wind, water, agriculture and hunting.

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Suwa Taisha is the head shrine among 10,000 or so Suwa sub-shrines located throughout Japan, including a famous Suwa Shrine in Nagasaki. It consists of four shrine complexes that include the Maemiya (old shrine), Honmiya (main shrine), Harumiya (spring shrine) and Akimiya (autumn shrine).

Suwa-taisha Upper Shrine, Main Building
TEL:+81-266-52-1919

 

 

MUSIC BOX MEMORIAL

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Music Box Memorial, a music box store located near Suwa Taisha, houses a collection of antique music boxes as well as affordable mini music box items for sale.

We chose from a selection of 700 songs and experienced creating our very own music box.

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I chose “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid because it reminds me of my childhood. 🙂

A unique box comes with my chosen song. With slight adjustments, I transformed the store’s existing music box into my very own keepsake.

Nidec Sankyo Corp. music box Memorial Suwanone
5805, Kamikubo, Shimosuwa-machi, Suwa-gun, Nagano
Website: ww.nidec-sankyo.co.jp/museum/

 

 

100 Suwa Fireworks Festival

LAKE SUWA

Every August 15th, Lake Suwa holds a magical fireworks display where dazzling lights reflect over the water like fiery flowers.

103 Suwa Tateishi Park

I heard that every day in the month of August, 800 fireworks are set off until the grand finale on August 15 when 40,000 fireworks light the sky to amaze a multitude of visitors!

 

 

CRICKET ICECREAM

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Cricket ice cream anyone?

If you are feeling adventuresome with food, there is an ice cream shop near Lake Suwa that sells soft serve ice cream topped with grasshopper that was simmered in soy sauce.

The taste? It was actually really good. Imagine a soft cream topped with fried candied grasshopper, the perfect combination of salty and sweet! Oishi!

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Now, this is how you scream “Ice cream!”

(Budget:¥450)

 

 

EAT UNAGI!

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Freshwater eel or unagi, is a popular dish in Suwa City, with unagi restaurants available in almost every corner.

The unagi here is prepared by cutting open the belly then directly broiling it over charcoal, unlike typical versions where the unagi is steamed first.

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With this unique cooking style, the unagi has a crispier skin and sweeter succulent flesh that pairs perfectly with the sweet salty sauce!

This, so far, is the best unagi dish I’ve eaten! A must try! Oishi!

Tenryuu (天龍)
3 Chome-22-11 Tenryucho Okaya-shi Nagano-ken
11:30~14:00
17:30~21:00
Budget: ¥3,000 – ¥3,999

 

 

SUWA GARASU NO SATO

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Suwa Garasu no Sato is an art glass museum near Lake Suwa. The second floor houses a museum that has 10,000 glass pieces on display. The first floor, on the other hand, holds a very large glass store where you can browse and shop for fun and buy goods you cannot find anywhere else such as glass lamps, kaleidoscopes, accessories, jewellery and figurines.

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They also have an on-site workshop where you can personally experience making beautiful glass candles using sand and glass figurines. The session lasts about one to two hours and you can take home your finished work on the same day. (Y1500 – Y5000 yen)

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Here’s my masterpiece, which I call “Dogs of Japan.”

Suwa Garasu-no-Sato (Glass Museum)
2400-7 Toyoda, Suwa, Nagano 392-0016, Japan
9:00 am – 5:00 pm

 

 

STRAWBERRY PICKING

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Nagano Prefecture is a fruit paradise! The big difference of temperature between night and day coupled with a lot of sunlight produces a variety of fresh fruits, including apples, grapes, strawberries and peaches—all available for picking and tasting at farms around the prefecture.

That day, I got to pick strawberries at Suwako Ichigo-en (Suwako Strawberry Farm) near Nagano Prefecture’s Lake Suwa.

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We had the 30-minute all-you-can-eat course available for ¥800 -¥1,700 depending on the farm and season (January – late June).

We got to roam around the fields, choosing our own strawberries and dipping them into yummy condensed milk. It was a sweet treat for a fruit lover like myself!

Getting there: From JR Kamisuwa Station, an approximately 20-minute ride by Swan Bus to Garasu-no-Sato, 5 minutes on foot from there.

 

 

HOT SPRING (ONSEN)

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After a day of activity, it was time to unwind at our ryokan for a kaiseki-style dinner, Japanese hospitality and a soothing hot spring (onsen) bath.

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We stayed at RAKO Hananoi Hotel, a southern European-style resort hotel built on the banks of Lake Suwa. The hotel combines the mood and elegance of traditional Japanese ryokans.

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(Private Onsen at Rako Hananoi Resort)

With a dazzling view of the lake and an abundance of nature, the resort also offers a hot spring bath and an open-air one overlooking Suwa Lake.

RAKO HANANOI RESORT HOTEL
2-1200 Takashima Suwa-CIty Nagano
Tel: +81 266-54-0333
website: www.suwako-resort.co.jp

 

NAGANO SERIES:
• MATSUMOTO CITY GUIDE: TOP 10 ACTIVITIES!
• MATSUMOTO CASTLE: Guide & Tips for Tourists!
• SUWA, NAGANO: Guide to Nagano’s Lakeside City!
• Zenkoji: Guide To Nagano’s 1400-Year-Old Temple!
• NAGANO, JAPAN: Top 10 Things To Do!

 

Live an Awesome Life,


ABI of Team Our Awesome Planet

Disclosure: We were media guests of  Nagano Tourism. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions and insights.