In the Tohoku region, north-east of Japan, there are several lakes of volcanic origin, and the deepest of them is Lake Tazawa, which offers a series of pleasant hints to spend a day in the fresh summer of the north.
What kind of place is Lake Tazawa?
With a maximum depth of 423.4 meters, it is the deepest lake of Japan, while the surface is about 26 square km.
Since ancient times, this lake has been venerated, protected and at the same time feared by the inhabitants of the place, originally Ainu populations, then pushed further north by the arrival of the Japanese pioneers. Probably because of the deep blue tint of its waters, for the almost magical red of the sunrises, around this water mirror are born many legends. The most famous of these is about Princess Tatsuko, whose statue is located in the lake.
In the time when Lake Tazawa was called “The Swamp of Tazawa”, lived Tatsuko, a woman whose beauty could not be easily seen in the village of Innai. Tatsuko, wishing to keep her beauty and her youth forever, prayed for 100 days and for 100 nights at the temple of Daizō Kannon.
At last, at the hundredth night, she heard of the prophecy: “The desire of the one who draws to the source that springs to the north” will come true. Tatsuko, after hearing these words, rushed out of hr house, crossed the mountain pass of Innai, and after passing a dense forest, she found herself in front of a spring from which pure water flowed among the rocks. Holding her hands towards the source, she began to drink it, but the more she drank, the more her thirst increased, so she kept drinking until the source was exhausted.
At that moment, Tatsuko had turned into a dragon, and went to dwell forever in the depths of the lake.
The Maiden’s mother, worried about her about not returning home, went to look for her far and wide, and when she was told of the fate of her daughter, taken by sadness, began to throw pieces of wood and trunks into the lake, and these, as if by magic , they turned into fishes, and they started to swim with vitality.
Every winter it is said that Lake Tazawa does not freeze, unlike the marshlands of Hachiro-Gata, just because Princess Tatsuko continues to live in her own waters.From the 'Sanko Monogatari'
The Tazawa lake, with a circumference of 20 km can turn into a pleasant path for a bicycle between the forest and the blue of its waters. At different points it is possible to rent bicycles for a few hours or for the whole day, and along its banks there are several places worth visiting. Later, in the section on impressions, we talk about some of them.
Lake Tazawa is located in the prefecture of Akita, near the border with Iwate. The main station is Tazawako, located along the Akita Shinkansen line, which provides direct connections to Tokyo. We will publish a page with detailed information shortly. In the meantime, you can refer to the indications to reach Kakunodate, on the same line.
We arrived at Lake Tazawa by taxi from the valley next to the Matsuba station of the Akita Nairiku line. Despite the about 10 km away, there is a special price of only 1000 yen, but you need to book the service. Normally, however, almost everyone will arrive at Lake Tazawa from Tazawako Station, using a connecting bus.
At the bus stop is Tazawako Rentacycle, a convenient kiosk to rent your bike for the tour of the lake. Prices start at 400 yen for one hour, about 800 for half a day.
Gozaishi Jinja Shrine (御座石神社)
After renting the bike, we immediately headed for the first attraction of the lake, the Gozaishi Jinja shrine, with a wonderful red torii on the shore of the lake. Around the torii there are rocks on which you can walk to admire the blue lapis lazuli of the waters of this deep caldera lake.
The route along Lake Tazawa is very pleasant, and 20 km are not very challenging, not even if you are out of training. The road is almost always plain, with some gentle slope from time to time.
The statue of Tatsuko-辰子像
After having travelled another quarter of the lake, we arrived at the symbol of this area, the statue of Tatsuko. It is located a few meters from the shore, on a pedestal behind which extends the immensity of the blue color of the lake. Unfortunately the day we visited was a bit cloudy, but with a little patience we were able to do justice, looking for various angles, the blue water of the lake!
Along the lake you can find several kiosks where to eat something, from a snack, to an ice cream, and of course also several “Teishoku” meals. We stopped at the Herb Garden Tazawako, a nursery with flowers and herbs with a restaurant and a very nice souvenir shop-themed lumberjack!
To the south of the lake, you can reach Omoide no Kata Bunko, an old elementary school preserved and restructured in 2004. On certain days it is also visitable, and shows what was the school life of the students of the pre-war period.
Finally we leave you with a beautiful video that shows you what you can do in the area of Lake Tazawa. This video was created by papersky.jp, where you can find many other ideas for outdoor activities in Japan!