Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Lake Towada – A Stunning Lake with Various Adventures

Lake Towada (十和田湖) isn’t just a beautiful lake that straddles both Aomori and Akita Prefecture in Northeastern Japan. Whether you prefer water sports, stroll around the virgin forest, or just like to eat, Lake Towada is a destination for everyone!

Lake Towada’s History

About 200,000 years ago, the Towada volcano began to erupt. As a result, a caldera of a depth of 327 meters and 14 kilometers wide was formed. From then on, rainwater started accumulating in the caldera, and progressively, a lake that reflects the sky and surrounding mountains was formed.

Due to the past crustal movement, the stratum surrounding the caldera became mountains and cliffs surrounding the lake. This is why there are quite a few sceneries and features around the lake that you will be pleasantly surprised by Lake Towada (*´ω`).

How to Access Lake Towada

For information on how to get to Lake Towada from JR Hachinohe Station between spring to autumn, please refer to our article on Oirase Gorge HERE (=゚ω゚)ノ.

JR Bus’s Bus Fare to Lake Towada

  • From JR Aomori Station or JR Shin Aomori Station: 3,140 yen
  • From JR Hachinohe Station: 2,720 yen
  • From Yakeyama in Oirase Gorge: 1,150 yen

Tip: Get the 5 DaysJR EAST PASS (Tohoku area) to save on transportation!

Free Shuttle Bus Services from Yakeyama to Lake Towada

From mid-October to mid-December, free shuttle bus services are running between Yasumiya and the West Coast area, as well as from Yakeyama to Yasumiya. In 2021, the services operated from the 21st of October to the 12th of December. As the information for the shuttle bus isn’t available on the English official website, please refer to the Japanese website HERE. You can use Google Chrome’s translation function at the right of the address bar to translate the webpage to English.

Please note in 2021, it is essential to reserve your spot to board this free service.

Important: We will update the links above for the 2022 season when it is available.

Heading to Lake Towada in Winter

If you plan to visit Lake Towada in winter with public transportation, it is best to reserve to board the Fuyu no Oirase-gō (冬のおいらせ号) from bus stop no. 1 from JR Hachinohe Station (八戸駅) west exit or Towada Art Center (十和田市現代美術館).

There is only 1 service per day. So you will have to stay overnight at Lake Towada if you choose to visit it in winter.

To reserve, as the service isn’t available on the English bus booking website Japan Bus Online, you can either translate the Japanese reservation website HERE with Google Chrome’s transaction function at the right of the address bar or give JR Bus Tohoku Aomori Station Ticket Center a call at +81-17-773-5722 between 9 am and 5 pm.

Reservation is open up until 90 minutes before the bus’s departure time. If the service isn’t fully booked, you can board the bus without booking.

The service for the 2021/2022 season is operating from the 13th to the 26th of January.

For the service’s timetable, please refer to the Japanese website HERE. Buses depart for Lake Towada at 9:40 am from Hachinohe Station and at 3:30 pm from Lake Towada Station.

3 Unique Regions around Lake Towada

Apart from the northern part of Lake Towada, the other three sides of the lake are known for their own themes.

Utarube Area (宇樽部)

Click HERE for the English official area map.

Lake Towada Pleasure Boat (十和田湖遊覧船)

Lake Towada’s beauty can certainly be appreciated from the lakeside. Although the lakeside view that you will get from the pleasure boat is a completely different level, it will definitely be a memory that will last a lifetime (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Once you board the boat, you will be introduced to a 50-minute scenic show!

Just by sitting on the boat, all the popular spots around the lake can be viewed. Imagine having a picture with the ruby blue Lake Towada and the mighty Mt. Ogura Cliff, Nakayama Peninsula, or the Towada Shrine as a backdrop? It is worth the effort of the long travel just for these photos!

Lake Towada Pleasure Boat
Ⓒ photo-ac.com/
2 Routes of Lake Towada Pleasure Boat

There are two routes that you can take to board the pleasure boat:
A) Yasumiya (休屋) ⇔ Nenokuchi (子ノ口)
B) Yasumiya (休屋) 🔁 loop course

We recommend course A. Nenokuchi, the starting point of the famous Oirase Gorge, is located a bit north of the Urarube area. As the boat goes across Lake Towada and arrives at Yasumiya, the area you will pass by would be through a larger portion of the lake than course B.

Course A is marked in red on the map (in Japanese only) on the official website HERE. With the same amount of money and time, we would rather be able to see the lakeside from various angles. Not to mention that if we are coming from Oirase Gorge and intend to stay at Yasuhiya for the night, course A would have saved us the effort of having to walk all the way from Nenokuchi to Yasumiya (which is an additional 2 hours walk after that 5 hours trekking (;´∀`)).

If you ever wondered how they transported that big boat to Lake Towada, the boat actually didn’t arrive in one piece back then. It was built and tested for safety at a coastal shipyard which was then re-assembled at Lake Towada (‘ω’)ノ.

Price and Timetable of the Towada Pleasure Boat

You might have gathered this information already from the LINK above. In summary:

  • The adult fare is 1,500 yen. Kids in primary school cost 750 yen to board. Note the cheaper price listed on the official website is for grouped tourists. So if you are in a group of 11 people or more, then that discounted price applies to you!
  • If you prefer a more comfortable place on the boat, with only 500 yen (250 yen for primary school kids), you will be able to stay in the VIP area – Green Room. The Green Room is located on the third floor of the pleasure boat. The floor has the best view, and an air conditioner is equipped!
  • Please note most of the boats only operate between the end of April and early November. Please refer to the LINK for more details.

Tip: If the pleasure boat is on your itinerary, fill in and print out their internet form HERE to get 100 yen off (50 yen for kids) per person! Note that this coupon applies up to a maximum of 5 people only, with the coupon being valid +/- 3 days from the intended boarding date you chose. The form is in Japanese, so translate it with Google Chrome’s translation function at the right of the address bar (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Access Information of Towada Pleasure Boat

Depending on which course you choose, please get your tickets and board at the following locations:

Nenokuchi: JR House Nenokuchi (子ノ口港 – 十和田湖遊覧船)

Yasumiya: Lake Towada pleasure boat reservation center
(十和田湖遊覧船予約センター)

Click HERE to obtain the list of attractions in Lake Towada!

Mt.Ohanabe Observatory (御鼻部山展望台) – Altitude 1,011m and Mt.Towada (十和田山) – Altitude 1,054m

Mt.Ohanabe Observatory
publicdomainq.net/

Following National Route 102 and traveling north from Nenokuchi, you will eventually reach the Mt. Ohanabe Observatory.

It is the observatory where you can get a full view of Lake Towada from its two most famous destinations – Ogura & Nakayama peninsulas (御倉 & 中山半島).

When the weather is good, and the azure lake surface becomes a mirror, you might have trouble determining which part of the photo is the sky because the lake reflects the surrounding scenery so perfectly (≧▽≦).

Following National Route 102 and traveling towards Yasumiya, Mt. Towada will be on your left-hand side after you pass Nanokuchi. If you haven’t got enough hiking done, turn left and then another left after you walk past the Utarube River Bridge to get to the Mt. Towada Hiking Course. You will be at the summit of Mt. Towada within 2 hours, where you can then enjoy the breath-taking Lake Towada view (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Click HERE to obtain the list of attractions in Lake Towada!

Guriland RIB Tour & Kayak Tour

If you are more of an adventurous type of person, you will find the RIB Tour and/or Kayak Tour fascinating!

Albeit a more expensive price tag, you will be guided to restrictive areas that most people won’t be able to access easily (*’▽’).

Although it has been said that the likelihood that you will spot wild animals is 99%, we think that this requires a bit of luck. If you board the first tour of the day, the engine noise of the boat is likely to scare off the animals before you can spot them.

If you don’t understand any Japanese, that shouldn’t be an issue! They have English-speaking tour guides as well (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Guriland RIB Tour’s Cost
  • 6,000 yen (4,000 yen for the 9 am tour) for adults
  • 3,000 yen (2,000 yen for the 9 am tour) for children from 6 to 11 years old
Guriland Kayak/Canoe Tour’s Cost
  • 12,000 yen for adults
  • 6,000 yen for children from 6 to 11 years old

Rental gears are available if you prefer a kayaking adventure without needing a tour guide!

Tips:
☛ If you stay over at the Lake Towada Adventure Lodge アドベンチャーロッジ 十和田湖 (official website in Japanese), you will get a huge discount on the RIB tour (2,000 yen for adults and 1,000 yen for children between age 6 to 11)!
☛ Reserve by 11 pm the day before your tour for a 1,000 yen discount (excluding the early morning and evening tours).
☛ Write a review after the tour on Google Review to get a 1,000 yen cash back (excluding the early morning and evening tours and when staff isn’t around)
☛ They provide pick-up services if your accommodation is located in Nenokuchi or Yasumiya.

Guriland’s Access Information and Some Useful Information about the Tour
  • Reservation isn’t necessary but is highly recommended during the Golden Week in early May, the Obon Festival in Mid-August, and the autumn foliage season from mid-October to early-November
  • Although the boat travels at high speed, you will hardly get seasick
  • As long as you are between the age range of 3 to 90 years of age (exceptions apply during cold or bad weather), you will be able to board the boat
  • You shouldn’t get wet from the boat travel from strong windy (non-rainy) weather. But they can provide rain gear and goggles if you feel like you need them
  • You will be able to cancel without any charges applied if the cancellation was made before the boat/kayak departing time
  • Cameras and snacks are allowed – although if you accidentally drop your snacks into the water, it becomes fish food

Click HERE to obtain the list of attractions in Lake Towada!

Utarube Campground (宇樽部キャンプ場)

During the warmer months (from the 26th of April to the 7th of November in 2022, to be exact), if you fancy camping along the beautiful Lake Towada, come visit the Utarube Campground!

While a reservation isn’t essential, booking with the campground in advance is wiser to ensure you have a place to sleep at night.

You can either do so by calling them at +81-176-75-2477 or reserve through their online booking system HERE (in Japanese, so if you need assistance, you can always contact us HERE, and we will get back to you).

Fees and Charges at Utarube Campground

If you plan to stay overnight at the campground, the below charges apply:

  • Entrance fee: 310 yen per person
  • Auto-campsite オートキャンプサイト (this type of campsite is a pre-divided block area that will give you ample space to park your vehicle and your tent): 1,570 yen
  • Cottage コテージ: 14,140 yen per cottage
  • Free camp area フリーキャンプエリア: 210 per tent
  • Parking fee (if you aren’t parking your vehicle in the auto-campsite): 520 yen per normal car, 1,040 yen for a larger vehicle that has a capacity between 11 to 29 people, 105 yen for any vehicles with 2 wheels
  • Shower room: 100 yen per use
  • Washing machine: 200 yen per use
  • Cloth dryer: 100 yen per use
Check-in and Check-out Time at Utarube Campground
  • Campsites: you can check in from 10 am
  • Cottage: you can check in from 3 pm
  • Check-out time for all types of accommodations is by 10 am the next day

Click HERE to obtain the list of attractions in Lake Towada!

Mt.Ogura Cliff (御倉山の断崖)

Mt.Ogura Cliff Lake Towada Aomori Japan
Ⓒ photo-ac.com/

The Mt. Ogura Cliff we see today is actually part of the lava dome formed by the eruption of Mt. Ogura.

The cliff is also known as Sarugakura (猿ヶ倉) because it is so steep that it has been said that even monkeys won’t be able to climb on the cliff.

While not a monkey, we found this YouTube video that a wild sable was trying to climb up and failed…(´▽`*).

Kankodai Observatory (瞰湖台)

Kankodai Observatory Lake Towada Aomori Japan
Ⓒ Towada City

On your way to Yasumiya, you’ll surely go past Kankodai Observatory (or Kankodai View Point).

With an altitude of 583 meters, if you choose to miss out on Mt.Ohanabe Observatory and/or the summit of Mt.Towada, this is your chance to take photos with the gorgeous Lake Towada from the lookout at the cliff (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Click HERE to obtain the list of attractions in Lake Towada!

Yasumiya Area (休屋)

Click HERE for the English official area map.

Ebisu Daikoku Island (恵比寿大黒島)

As soon as you reach the Yasumiya Area, you’ll be able to see Ebisu Daikoku Island on Lake Towada.

While the soil lacks nutrients on the lava-made island, it is amazing how pine trees and other plants can still grow beautifully on it!

This little island will look even more beautiful during autumn when the red foliage on the island reflects the surface of the lake (‘ω’)ノ.

Ebisu Daikoku Island Lake Towada Aomori Japan
Ⓒ photo-ac.com/

Click HERE to obtain the list of attractions in Lake Towada!

Statue of Maidens

Statue Of Maidens Lake Towada Aomori Japan
photo-ac.com/

It is hard to convince others that you have been to Lake Towada if you don’t have a photo of this statue.

The statue was built in 1953 by Kotaro Takamura to commemorate the 15th anniversary of Lake Towada National Park. It has been said that the statue was built as a representation of his strong feeling toward his beloved wife, who was sick.

So nowadays, not only is the statue recognized as a symbol of Lake Towada, but it is also a popular spot for women to go over to pray for luck in their love life (^_-)-☆.

Especially during the Lake Towada Winter Festival held every February, the statue also became a popular dating spot for couples around the country!

Statue Of Maidens Lake Towada Aomori Japan
Ⓒ Towada City

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Lake Towada!

Craft Shop Yuzuriha (暮らしのクラフトゆずりは)

If you are looking for first-class handicrafts from Aomori Prefecture and the Tohoku region, head to the craft shop Yuzuriha.

The shop itself is almost like another art gallery. Echoing the craftwork quality here, the shop’s interior is also elegantly designed, reflecting the beauty of this part of Japan.

The main shop is not far from the JR bus stop Towadako (十和田湖駅). The business hours are from 10 am to 5 pm from mid-April to mid-November.

And recently, a second shop was established in Oirase Gorge just opposite Hoshino Resort Oirase Gorge in Yakeyama.

The business hours of their Oirase Gorge shop are from 11 am to 5 pm from mid-April to mid-November. For information about how to get to Yakeyama, please read our article on Oirase Gorge.

Towada-Jinja Shrine (十和田神社)

Towada-Jinja Shrine Lake Towada Aomori Japan

When Lake Towada is mentioned, people often think of lookout decks or water sports even though there are other sacred places like Towada-Jinja Shrine.

The wooden-colored shrine blends perfectly with the surrounding nature. The atmosphere at Towada-Jinja Shrine is also so mysterious and holy that even people who are not religious places reported feeling refreshed and wanting to make a prayer or two.

Two Legends Of Towada-Jinja Shrine

Some historical scholars believed that the shrine was built by a general back in 807. As the condition of Lake Towada was too rough for his army to pass, he ordered for the shrine to be built. Prayers were made upon completion of the shrine, and the army was then able to cross Lake Towada safely.

The other legend and myth that is probably more commonly known are that the shrine was built by monk Nansonobō (南祖坊, 南蔵坊 or 南草坊). He was given a pair of iron sandals and was then told to settle down at the place if the sandals were torn. This happened when he arrived at Lake Towada. At the time, a serpent monster with eight heads living in the lake appeared. Nansonobō successfully exterminated the monster, and from then onwards, the locals regarded him as the Guardian God of Lake Towada.

Fortune Telling at Towada-Jinja Shrine

If you have certain wishes that you want the God of Towada-Jinja Shrine to help you with, you must walk another 160 meters to reach Nakanoko Observatory. Underneath that observatory is the fortune-telling spot in the past.

The story is, by throwing the Oyori-gami (おより紙), which is a special paper that the priest has offered his prayer to God with) into Lake Towada, if the paper sinks into the bottom of Lake Towada, then God will make your wishes come true (=゚ω゚)ノ. On the other hand, if God decides not to help you, even if you tied the paper to a heavy object, the paper will never sink!

As visitors are currently forbidden to use the ladder leading to the fortune-telling spot, what you can do is throw your Oyori-gami into Lake Towada at Gozen-ga-hama (御前ヶ浜) in front of the Statue of Maidens (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Click HERE to obtain the list of regions of Lake Towada!

Onsen at Yasumiya Area

The Towada Onsen Town is located north of the Oirase Gorge,

But there is also natural onsen at Yasumiya Area! Whilst you probably won’t have the Lakeview from your room or the bathing area, we still recommend staying at one of the accommodations that have onsen facilities (because onsen really does help you to relax and heal your tiredness from sightseeing!).

One of the hotels we found is Hotel Towadaso ホテル十和田荘. Their indoor bathing area is quite fancy, and their outdoor bathing area is completely surrounded by nature!

Tip: If you are a vegetarian like us, don’t forget to inform Hotel Towadaso of your dietary requirements when you book (=゚ω゚)ノ

Click HERE to obtain the list of attractions in Lake Towada!

West Coast Area (西湖畔)

To get to the observatories and lookout decks, unless you are full of energy, we recommend accessing the West Coast Area via car.

Hakka Touge Observatory (発荷峠展望台)

Hakka Touge Observatory Lake Towada Aomori Japan

Albeit located an hour and 40 mins walk from Yasumiya, Hakka Touge Observatory provides you with the best view of Lake Towada!

Overlooking Lake Towada from an altitude of 631 meters means you can see Mt. Kushigamine in Minami Hakkoda.

But as always, when a scenic spot isn’t a secret anymore, it is bound to be crowded during the holidays.

So if you are driving but can’t find a parking spot at the car park nearby, there is a bigger car park located 200 meters at the entrance of Jukai Line (樹海ライン). There are even toilet facilities available as well (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Click HERE to obtain the list of attractions of Lake Towada!

Towadako Oide Campsite (十和田湖生出キャンプ場)

Between the end of April to early November, apart from the Utarube Campground, you can also camp at the West Coast Area of Lake Towada at Towadako Oide Campsite (=゚ω゚)ノ

Click HERE for fees and charges to plan ahead for your trip!

To reserve, please call +81-176-75-2368 between 8:30 am to 5 pm (^_-)-☆.

Click HERE to obtain the list of attractions in Lake Towada!

Other Lookouts and Observatories

Shimei-Tei Observatory (紫明亭展望台) – Altitude 630 m
Shimei-Tei Observatory Lake Towada Aomori Japan
Ⓒ Towada City
Kodakedai Lookout (甲岳台) – Altitude 670 m
Hakuuntei Observatory (白雲亭展望台)
Hakuuntei Observatory Lake Towada Aomori Japan
Ⓒ Towada City
Takinosawa Observatory (滝ノ沢展望台) – Altitude 698 m
Takinosawa Observatory Lake Towada Aomori Japan
Ⓒ Towada City

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Lake Towada!

The Fall Foliage Season at Lake Towada

The autumn foliage season at Lake Towada is usually from mid-October to early November. If you are after the cherry blossom, head to other spots in Aomori Prefecture (such as Towada City Government Office Street), as there are sadly not many cherry blossom trees around the gorgeous lake…

Festivals at Lake Towada

Lake Towada Winter Festival (十和田湖冬物語)

Lake Towada Winter Festival Snowdome
photo-ac.com/

The Lake Towada Winter Festival is held every February. Apart from the usual illumination, light shows, and fireworks, we found the snowdome (as pictured) to be the most exciting of all!

Also, if you are a foodie like us, make sure you grab your favorite Japanese food from the stalls before heading off to see performances or stroll around the Yasumiya Area where the event is held (=゚ω゚)

For the exact dates of the festival, please refer to the official website HERE.

Lake Towada Festival (十和田湖湖水まつり)

The Lake Towada Festival, which is usually held on one of the weekends in late July or the beginning of August, is another main event at the lake.

Again, refer to the official website HERE for any planned festival dates!

Other Attractions in the City Center of Towada

Towada-City-Government-Office-Street-Spring-Towada-Aomori-Japan
Click the photo for more information on this gorgeous spot!

The city of Towada isn’t just all about natural attractions. The city center is actually surrounded by an artistic atmosphere!

Numerous statues complement the landmark of Towada – Towada Art Center. Not only are the artworks in the city all masterpieces from artists who are recognized internationally, but a few of the buildings have been designed by renowned architects like Andō Tadao!

For more information, please refer to our article on Towada City (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Your Guide to The Stunning Oirase Gorge

Oirase Gorge and Lake Towada are the two destinations in Aomori Prefecture that goes hand in hand. So when you plan your trip, remember to allocate at least half a day to visit the stunning gorge!

The 14 km Oirase Gorge (奥入瀬渓流) in Aomori prefecture is known as one of Japan’s most scenic spots. No matter which season you visit Oirase Gorge, you will definitely be amazed by its ethereal beauty (*´ω`).

Choshi-Falls-Oirase-Gorge-Aomori-Japan
Click the photo for more information about Oirase Gorge!


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