[Touring Spot] [Nagano Prefecture] Bike trip to Lake Suwa! A solo trip on a Harley through mysterious customs and Japan’s oldest lake

Hello, this is _hiroyuki.ta. This time, I went on a bike tour to Lake Suwa in Nagano Prefecture. Lake Suwa is said to be Japan’s oldest lake, and is a tourist destination with beautiful seasonal scenery and mysterious customs. This time, I would like to start from central Tokyo and introduce the route to Lake Suwa, highlights, motorcycle parking, etc.


What is Lake Suwa?


Lake Suwa is a lake with an area of approximately 13 square kilometers located in the southern part of Nagano Prefecture. At an altitude of approximately 760 meters, it is the highest lake in Japan. Lake Suwa is a caldera lake created by volcanic activity about 400,000 years ago, and is said to be Japan’s oldest lake. Lake Suwa is shallow and may freeze over in winter. At that time, a phenomenon called “Omiwatari” occurs, where icicles line up along the cracks in the ice. This originates from the legend that the god of Suwa Taisha Shrine crosses on ice, and even today many people come to see it.

Lake Suwa is a place rich not only in nature but also in culture and history. There are shrines such as Suwa Taisha and Ryu Shrine, and historical buildings such as Takashima Castle, which is home to many national treasures and important cultural properties. Additionally, in the Suwa region, a traditional festival called the Onbashira Festival is held every September. In this event, huge trees are brought down from mountains and dedicated to shrines, and you can see a magnificent sight. Additionally, the Suwa region is famous for its hot springs and specialty dishes such as Shinshu soba. In particular, eel'' andbasashi” are known as specialties around Lake Suwa, and you can enjoy them at many restaurants.

Route to Lake Suwa

This time, I started from central Tokyo and entered the Chuo Expressway via the Shuto Expressway Inner Loop Line and Shuto Expressway No. 4 Shinjuku Line. The Chuo Expressway is a major expressway that runs from Tokyo to Nagano and Yamanashi prefectures, and you can see beautiful mountains such as Mt. Fuji and Mt. Yatsugatake along the way. After getting off the Chuo Expressway at Suwa IC, I headed to Lake Suwa using National Route 20 and Prefectural Route 185.

National Route 20 is a national highway that runs parallel to the Chuo Expressway, and there are tourist spots such as Chino City and Fujimi Town along the way. Prefectural Route 185 is a road that runs along the south shore of Lake Suwa, and you can enjoy the lakeside scenery while driving. The road is relatively wide and flat, making it a comfortable road for motorcyclists, but be careful of oncoming cars and pedestrians.

Highlights of Lake Suwa

Lake Suwa has many attractions, including a walk along the lake and Suwa Taisha Shrine. This time, we will introduce Suwako Shrine and Takashima Castle.

Suwako Shrine

Suwako Shrine is a shrine located on the north shore of Lake Suwa. It is located between Suwa Taisha’s Kamisha Main Shrine and Shimosha Akimiya Shrine, and is treated as a separate shrine of Suwa Taisha. Suwako Shrine is said to have been founded based on the legend that Takeminakata no Mikoto, the deity enshrined at Suwa Taisha Shrine, descended to Lake Suwa. On the grounds of the shrine, there is a place where a ritual called “Icicle Stand” is held, in which icicles are set up during the sacred crossing. In addition, there is a red bridge called Ryujinbashi in front of the shrine, and its reflection on the lake is beautiful.

Suwako Shrine can be reached in about 5 minutes on foot from the parking lot. There is also a motorcycle parking lot nearby. Motorcycles can be parked for free at the municipal Ryujinbashi parking lot.

Takashima Castle


Takashima Castle is a castle ruin on the south shore of Lake Suwa. Hirayama Castle was built in the early Edo period and houses many national treasures and important cultural properties. In particular, Takashima Castle Castle Tower'' andTakashima Castle Honmaru Palace” are not to be missed. Takashima Castle Castle Tower is the oldest wooden castle tower in Japan and is designated as a national treasure. “Takashima Castle Honmaru Goten” is a building built in the late Edo period and is designated as an important cultural property. Inside, historical materials and paintings are on display, and you can take a look.

Takashima Castle can be reached in about 10 minutes on foot from the parking lot. There is also a motorcycle parking lot nearby. Motorcycles can be parked for free at the municipal Takashima Castle parking lot.


This time, I went on a bike tour to Lake Suwa in Nagano Prefecture. The location is easily accessible via the Chuo Expressway, and I was able to enjoy nature and culture such as the lakeside and shrines. There was a parking lot where you could park your bike for free, which is a great feature for bikers. Lake Suwa, a famous tourist destination in Nagano Prefecture, is recommended for motorcycle touring.