Hello, this is _hiroyuki.ta. This time, I went on a motorcycle tour from central Tokyo to Lake Okugiso in Nagano Prefecture. Lake Okugiso is a multipurpose dam located at the highest point in Japan, and is a beautiful lake that has been selected as one of the top 100 dam lakes. In this article, I would like to introduce what Lake Okugiso is, how to get there, what kind of attractions there are, and where the bike parking lot is.
What is Lake Okugiso?
Lake Okugiso is an artificial lake created by the Misogawa Dam at the uppermost reaches of the Kiso River system. Miso River Dam is a 140 meter high rockfill dam, and is a multipurpose dam operated by Japan Water Agency for flood control, unspecified water use, water supply, industrial water, and hydroelectric power generation. The top of the dam is located at an altitude of 1,130 meters, overlooking the peaks of the Central Alps. Okugiso Lake was selected as one of the top 100 dam lakes in 2005 due to its beautiful scenery and rich nature.
The area around Okugiso Lake is home to the Kiso River Headwaters Fureai Museum, observation decks, and parks, where everyone can come into contact with water and nature. Kiso Village is also famous for its special products such as Kiso cypress and lacquerware, and you can also enjoy traditional crafts and local cuisine.
Route to Lake Okugiso
This time, I toured by motorcycle from central Tokyo to Lake Okugiso. It took me about 4 and a half hours to complete the ride on my favorite Harley-Davidson FLSB Sport Glide. The route is introduced below.
First, take Route 316 from Ningyocho-dori/Suitengu-dori and enter the Shuto Expressway City Loop Line/C1 from Takaracho IC. Proceed on the Metropolitan Expressway Inner Loop Line/C1 and enter the Metropolitan Expressway No. 4 Shinjuku Line/Route 4 at Miyakezaka JCT. Take Shuto Expressway No. 4 Shinjuku Line/Route 4 and enter the Chuo Expressway.
It runs about 200 kilometers along the Chuo Expressway. On the way, enter Nagano Expressway at Okaya JCT. Drive about 10 kilometers on the Nagano Expressway and exit at Shiojiri IC. From Shiojiri IC, take Shiojiri Bypass/National Route 20 and proceed towards National Route 19/Shiojiri/Kiso.
It runs about 35 kilometers along National Route 19. Along the way, you will pass through the Shinonome-no-Michi Alps Observation Road and the old Nakasendo Road. As you approach Lake Okugiso, you will see the dam and lake on the right. Turn right and cross a small bridge to arrive at Lake Okugiso.
Highlights of Lake Okugiso
Lake Okugiso has a variety of attractions where you can come into contact with water and nature. I will introduce some of them below.
Kiso River Headwaters Fureaikan
Kiso River Genryu Fureaikan is a museum located on the left bank of the dam. Here you can learn about the construction and operation of the Miso River Dam, the importance and usage of water resources, the nature and history of the Kiso River, and more. There are also dam models, videos, and panels on display that explain the structure and role of dams in an easy-to-understand manner. Admission is free⁴.
The observation deck is located on a hill on the right bank of the dam. From here, you can see the dam and Lake Okugiso at the same time. The mountains and forests of the Central Alps and the blue surface of the lake look beautiful. There are benches and tables at the observation deck, where you can take a break or enjoy a picnic.
The promenade is approximately 2 kilometers long from the top of the dam to Okugiso Ohashi Bridge. As you walk along the promenade, you can experience the nature that surrounds Lake Okugiso up close. Waterfowl and fish can be seen along the lake, and depending on the season, flowers and trees such as cherry blossoms and autumn leaves add color. There are information boards along the walking path, which are useful for nature observation and education.
Motorcycle parking lot at Lake Okugiso
There is no dedicated parking lot for motorcycles at Lake Okugiso, but you can use the parking lot in front of the dam management office and the Kiso River Headwaters Fureaikan. However, these parking lots can also park cars, so they can get crowded. In that case, you can park your bike on the shoulder of the road near the observation deck or park, but please be careful.
This time, I went on a motorcycle tour from central Tokyo to Lake Okugiso in Nagano Prefecture. Lake Okugiso is a multipurpose dam located at the highest point in Japan, and is a beautiful lake that has been selected as one of the top 100 dam lakes. In the surrounding area, there are facilities and walking trails where you can come into contact with water and nature.