Must-See Japan Places of Interests

Lake Suwa under cloud sea and Mt. Fuji in the background at twilight

Hi  Messrs. Mses. Japanophiles.  how have you been?  Today, I’d like to guide you to Bocchi highland where you can enjoy the beautiful scenery at sunset of both Lake Suwa under the sea of clouds and sacred mountain Mt.Fuji which is seen in the background.

Before going to the Bocchi plateau, let me introduce Lake Suwa and around Suwa-city where was once known as “Switzerland in the Orient”.

Lake Suwa

Where’s Lake Suwa and what are attractions?

Suwa Lake (Suwa-ko in Japanese), located in Nagano Prefecture, the location of which is almost the center of Japanese islands, is Nagano prefectures’s largest lake.

Around the shores of Lake Suwa are the four shrine complexes that make up Suwa Taisha Grand Shrine, one of the oldest and most important Shinto shrines in Japan.

Lake Suwa

Lake Suwa is 759m above sea level and is the 24th largest lake in Japan with a circumference of just under 16km.

Lake Suwa is the source of the Tenryu River which flows south through Iida-city to Pacific Ocean, and is famous for its spectacular gorge, where you can enjoy to take a boat ride and be serenaded by a singing boat woman.

Lake Suwa

Attractions Omi-watari

Lake Suwa is the site of a natural phenomenon known as the “God’s Crossing” (omi-watari). The lake has a natural hot spring under its surface.

When the lake’s surface freezes in the winter, its lower waters are still circulating. This results in ice pressure ridges forming in the surface ice, reaching heights of 30 centimetres (1 ft) or more.

Lake Suwa

Local Shinto tradition holds that the ridges are formed by the gods crossing the lake, when travelling between the various buildings of the Suwa Grand Shrine.

Folklore says it is the guardian god of Suwa, Takeminakata-no-kami, leaving his sanctuary to meet with his wife, the goddess Yasakatome, joining the opposite bank by walking on frozen water.

Lake Suwa

As everyone know of global warming, we are sorry to inform you that we are now seldom to see this phenomenon of God’s Crossing, take 2019 for instance, there was not occuring. We hope we will be able to see it again very near future.

Attractions Fireworks in summer

The Suwa Lake Fireworks Festival holds on August 15 every year. The biggest feature is the largest number of fireworks in Japan that are launched about 40,000 on the evening of the day.

Lake Suwa, Bocchi Highland

Attractions Onsen(hot springs)

Lake Suwa is surrounded by many hot springs (onsen) and travelers from Tokyo and Nagoya come to combine taking the waters at Kamisuwa Onsen with viewing of the lake.

Many of the ryokan (Japanese hotel) and hot spring hotels (see below) have their own in-house hot bath. There are said to be seven different hot springs in the area.

Bocchi Highland,God's Crossing
Lake Suwa seen from a hot spring in the hotel

precision machine tool factory

There is a town of Okaya, just next door of Suwa, and it was once well-known as “Silk factory” around the world before World War Two. At that time, Okaya and Suwa area enjoyed the prosperity of the silkworm culture industry and the silk manufacturing industry.

Bocchi Highland,God's Crossing

However, Okaya and Suwa changed to develop precision machine makers such as watches, cameras, microscopes and music boxes after World War Two thanks to abundant of pure water from Japanese Northern Alps, clean air, and low-wage workers.

Bocchi Highland, Lake Suwa

Bocchi Highland

Bocchi Highland, God's Crossing

As a shooting spot of Mt. Fuji, the popular “Bocci Plateau” Lake Suwa, the lakeside streetlights, and the sea of clouds will decorate Mt. Fuji as the main character.

Lake Suwa, God's Crossing

It is especially recommended from autumn when the air is clear and the night view shines beautifully until the access road is closed in winter.

Bocchi Highland,God's Crossing

 

Location of Bocchi Highland

To go to Bocchi Highland, sorry to tell you that there is no bus service available, but your own car from your home or rental-car from Okaya or Shiojiri Station, you should ask travel agencies there.

Bocchi Highland, God's Crossing

Lastly, “Fuji-san ( Mt.Fuji ), the mother mountain to the Japanese” to be well-worth visiting, thanks

About the author

古林 茂樹(Shigeki Furubayashi )