Cycle Around Lake Hamana and Enjoy Lovely Views and the Local Food
If you want to enjoy beautiful, local scenery during a trip, walking is a good option, but cycling is also a great way to go about it. One of the best places to enjoy a refreshing bicycle ride while admiring gorgeous mountains and rivers is Hamamatsu City, located just a 90-minute train ride from Tokyo. In this article, we’ll introduce the many facilities for cyclists around the shores of the beautiful Lake Hamana that make biking around the area a breeze, while also providing you with a map showing various cycling routes and all the attractions that you’ll find along the way. Get pumped up for an exhilarating bicycle ride in Hamamatsu!
Jan 17 2023
*This article was written in collaboration with Hamamatsu City in Shizuoka Prefecture.
An Important Transportation Hub Connecting Japan’s East and West
Located in Shizuoka Prefecture, Hamamatsu is easily accessible from larger cities like Nagoya and Tokyo. In fact, it takes just 1.5 hours by shinkansen (bullet train) or 2.5 hours by car to get there from the capital. Since long ago, Hamamatsu has flourished as an important hub for those traveling between the Kanto region in the east and the Kansai region in the west.
For many people, Hamamatsu is synonymous with eel dishes such as unaju (grilled eel over rice served in a box container). Interestingly, most eels sold and consumed in Hamamatsu come from Lake Hamana. Formed over a span of 500,000 years, this natural lake features both freshwater and seawater, making it rich in various minerals and nutrients. This is why the lake is such a great location for raising eels, oysters, and other seafood.
Taking up a total area of 65 km², the lake is surrounded by many unique landforms created through centuries of lakebed erosion and sedimentation. Both the unique topography as well as the diverse natural ecology have contributed to the area being designated as the “Hamanako Prefectural Natural Park” that today serves as a place of rest and recreation for local residents.
A Popular Filming Spot That’s Easy to Explore on Bicycle
Lake Hamana is quite large. In fact, it’s the 10th largest lake in Japan, so you might think that it would be difficult to cycle around it. However, the Lake Hamana area is actually very cyclist-friendly because of its flat roads and the gorgeous surroundings. Some might even say that it’s one of the top travel destinations for cyclists in Japan! For beginners, a trip around the lake at a slow pace should take about seven hours, while experienced cyclists should be able to complete the route in five hours.
Once actually there, you’ll quickly understand why the live-action adaptation of the popular cycling manga “Yowamushi Pedal” was partially shot at the lake. That being said, you can still fully enjoy the combination of lakeside scenery and urban townscapes without actually cycling through the entire route. Instead, it might be more refreshing to pick a few scenic spots and paths that interest you and enjoy a casual bike ride at your own speed.
Our Recommended Lake Hamana Scenic Cycling Course
Don’t know where to start with cycling around Lake Hamana? We’ve got you covered! Below, you’ll find our recommended cycling route and some amazing sightseeing spots that you’ll come across along the way. Feel free to arrange the itinerary in any way you like and enjoy a fun and refreshing bicycle ride in Hamamatsu.
Hamamatsu Flower Park
Hamamatsu Flower Park is a botanical garden located on the shore of Lake Hamana. It offers a variety of picture-perfect landscapes that make the most of the natural terrain and local flora. There’s always something here to entertain visitors all year round, from dazzling spring cherry blossoms to a tulip garden, a charming traditional Japanese garden, rows of Yaezakura trees, a rose garden, and more! The Hamamatsu Flower Park is a great place to enjoy the delicate beauty of blooming flowers.
In addition to the gorgeous natural scenery, there are also various facilities in the park for people of all ages. For example, there’s a Flower Train that takes you around the entire park, as well as a greenhouse cafe where you can enjoy special rose soft-serve ice cream while surrounded by the actual flowers. There’s even a playground with lots of toys for children to play with! You’ll always find something fun to do at Hamamatsu Flower Park.
Near Lake Hamana, there is a small mountain about 50 meters tall called Tateyama. Though it might not be very large, it’s home not only to hot springs but also a temple with a very long history. Named Kanzanji, the temple is said to have been founded by the monk Kukai in 810 and enshrines Kannon, the goddess of mercy and compassion. The temple also features an Enmusubi Jizo statue, said to grant luck in love and marriage, and the Ana Daishi, a cave that is said to cure eye ailments.
In December, the temple hosts the Fire Festival where priests and monks walk barefoot over fire as a way to pray for good health and a bountiful harvest. Afterwards, onlookers are encouraged to try walking over the fire themselves! It’s said that those who agree to do so will be blessed with such robust health, they’ll never catch a cold!
Kanzanji Temple is also known for selling over 100 different types of talismans and lucky charms! There’s one for everyone, no matter the situation: strengthening bonds, bringing in good luck, recovering from eye ailments, praying for your pet’s health and long life, and so much more! Once you’ve bought a charm, take the time to enjoy the beauty of Lake Hamana from various observation points around the temple.
Hamanako Garden Park
Also located next to Lake Hamana is Hamanako Garden Park, a vast green space with free admission. Originally the site of the 2004 Lake Hamana Flower Festa, the park was closed for a time before being redeveloped and reopening to the public. Since then, it has become a place for locals to get in touch with nature, relax, and go cycling.
The entire park spans around 56 hectares and offers various attractions that are free to the public, not counting the paid observation tower, the sightseeing cruise that goes around the park, and facilities selling food. But even excluding those, there’s plenty around the park to entertain visitors for the entire day.
Hamanako Garden Park is divided into three sections: the Westside Area, the Town Area, and the Country Area. The Westside Area offers parking and cycling courses, as well as a lawn square where a variety of events take place. The Town Area is more focused on fun activities and is home to a water park, a learning center where visitors can expand their horizons through an array of hands-on activities, a scenic Garden Cruise, flower fields, and a community garden! Finally, there’s the Country Area where you’ll find the International Garden that showcases garden styles from around the world, the Flower Museum that recreates garden scenes painted by the French artist Claude Monet, the Garden of 100 Flowers that houses an incredible variety of plants, and much more.
Bentenjima Seaside Park
Located between Lake Hamana and the harbor, Bentenjima Seaside Park is a well-known swimming spot beloved by people from all over Japan. Apart from enjoying some good fun in the water, visitors can also fish, soak in a hot spring, and even go digging for clams. As a result, the park gets a lot of visitors every summer.
Guests who don’t enjoy the water can still relax at Bentenjima Seaside Park by admiring its gorgeous scenery. There’s also a rental bicycle store on the beach, so why not enjoy the view while cycling? The contrast between the local red torii gate and the azure ocean is especially beautiful. At sunset, the sky turns a vermilion red, making the scenery just that much more magical. Many visitors get off their bikes around this time to admire the colorful display.
Enjoy Lake Hamana’s Official Cycling Courses!
Lake Hamana boasts exciting cycling courses built and promoted by Shizuoka Prefecture that let visitors explore the entire perimeter of the lake on bicycle while taking in beautiful views and trying all kinds of local foods. There are four courses in total: Ride Hamaichi, Hamaichi Bypass, Hamaichi Green, and Hamaichi Blue. Visitors can use whichever road they please, but to get the most out of the experience, it’s best to choose a course based on your ability and the kind of sights and attractions that the course offers.
The Ride Hamaichi course is great for first-time visitors who want to cycle the entire lake. The course is 65 kilometers long and relatively flat. Along the way, you will come across several famous spots such as the aforementioned Bentenjima Seaside Park, Hamanako Garden Park, Kanzanji Temple, and Hamamatsu Flower Park.
All the courses are detailed on the Hamanako Cycle Tourism website, so please check it out before visiting! To get the most out of cycling around Lake Hamana, we recommend picking a route that best matches your athleticism and enjoying it however you like!
If you want to experience the best that Shizuoka Prefecture has to offer, drop by Hamamatsu, cycle around Lake Hamana, and enjoy the beautiful scenery and delicious local food.
★Hamamatsu’s sightseeing info is regularly posted on the city’s official website and social media, so be sure to check them out!
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.