Suwa is located centrally in Nagano, and is famous for its hot springs that originate below the lake. There are many Japanese-style inns and guesthouses in the area that cater to Japanese as well as foreign tourists. People mainly stay in Suwa for the many outdoor activities on the water and in the mountains, plus it is a great base for taking day trips in the wider Nagano area.
The 14.5 square kilometer Suwa lake has an average depth of only four meters, which makes it rather shallow. On the Kamisuwa side is a spa with thermally heated spring water. The Suwa-Taisha shrine is one of the oldest shrines in Japan with more than 10,000 branches. The shrine consists of two shrines, the Kami Suwa (Upper Shrine) and the Shimo Suwa (Lower Shrine). The gods enshrined in Suwa Shrine are of chivalry, farming, hunting, and wind, and they have many believers.
Takashima castle is small but is famously known as ‘The Floating Castle’ as it is located close to the edge of the lake and appears to float on the water. First constructed in 1598, it was last rebuilt in 1970 after lying in ruins for many years. It has a three-level main tower or donjon, a corner tower, moat, and memorial park. This attractive castle is located 750 meters above sea level and from the donjon on a clear day are spectacular views of Mt. Fuji and high mountains such as Yatsugatake and Hotakadake.
There are several sake breweries in Suwa that have been there for sometimes hundreds of years, and the Miyasaki Brewing Company is definitely worth a visit for those interested in this exclusively Japanese alcoholic drink. You can do a brewery tour in English and taste samples, but please keep in mind you need to reserve your tour in advance on this website.
Fujimi town is a beautiful little village with a floral village and many outdoor options like trekking, downhill cycling, and skiing. Hara village is still very heavy into agriculture, and foreign tourists are welcomed to visit their farmer’s markets and craft fairs where they can taste local vegetables and try weaving which is very popular in Hara. Takasugi-An or the High Room is a piece of avant-garde architecture like you won’t see anywhere else. Honjin Iwanamike or Old Samurai House is a former high-end lodging with escape rooms and hatches to protect the VIP’s staying here. It is a great place for photographs and a bit of relaxing.