Hamanako (Ľlľ╝î╬) is a large lake at the Pacific Coast of western Shizuoka Prefecture. Originally a fresh water lake separated from the ocean, Hamanako got connected to the ocean as a result of an earthquake in 1498 and its water turned salty. The majority of Hamanako's attractions are concentrated around the Kanzanji Onsen, a hot spring resort on an inlet along the lake's eastern shores.
It was not until the late 1950s that Kanzanji Onsen's hot spring was drilled and a town with various tourist attractions grew around it. Although Kanzanji Onsen does not have the traditional atmosphere of a more historic onsen town, it does offer an attractive range of baths with views onto the lake. Most of the baths are found in the town's hotels and ryokan, and many are accessible not only to staying guests but also to daytrip visitors for a small fee.
The following is a list of some of Kanzanji Onsen's best baths that are open to day trip visitors:
Sago Royal Hotel•
Daytime Hours: 11:00 to 17:00 (entry until 16:00) Daytime Admission: 1100 yen Overnight Stay: From 10,000 yen per person including 2 meals
The Sago Royal Hotel is one of the most prominent hotels of Kanzanji Onsen, located just beside Kanzanji Temple at the end of a small peninsula. The hotel has several baths, among which its rooftop outdoor pools (rotemburo) with 360 degree views of Lake Hamanako are quite outstanding.
Hanasaki no Yu•
Hours: 10:00 to 23:00 (entry until 22:00) Admission: 1420 yen (1680 yen on weekends, 1980 during high seasons)
Part of the Hotel Wellseason, the Hanasaki no Yu is a large, attractive public bath catering to daytrip visitors. It offers a wide variety of baths, including some outdoor baths in a garden area, relaxation services and restaurants.
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While the history of Kanzanji Onsen does not extend far into the past, its namesake temple is believed to have been founded in the early 800s by the famous monk Kobo Daishi. The grounds of Kanzanji Temple are quite expansive, extending over the forested tip of a peninsula that juts out into Hamanako. There are nice walking paths through the forest with views out onto the water.
Among the other attractions around Kanzanji Onsen, the most noticeable is the Pal Pal Amusement Park with its large Ferris wheel. The park's other rides include roller coasters, merry go rounds and water slides and are particularly well suited for kids. Rides can be paid for individually (typically 200-800 yen per ride) or used with a 1-day freepass (4200 yen).
A unique sight of Kanzanji Onsen is the Kanzanji Ropeway, which travels over the inlet between the Pal Pal amusement park and the summit of Okusayama Mountain. A free observation deck with nice views over the town and lake and a paid music box museum are located on the mountain's summit at an elevation of about 100 meters.
As an alternative to going up in the air for good views of the area, sightseeing boats allow travelers to enjoy the scenery from the water. Cruises of 30 minutes (1000 yen) or one hour (1500 yen) travel out of Kanzanji's inlet and further into Hamanako Lake. The boats can be boarded at Kanzanji Temple or the entrance to the Hamamatsu Flower Park, a spacious park with flowers for every season.
At the end of a day exploring the lake or as a mid day meal, travelers should consider eating Japanese Eel (unagi), a locally farmed specialty. Many restaurants offer the dish, usually broiled and served over a bed of rice as unadon (in a bowl) or unaju (in a rectangular box). The meal can be a bit on the pricey side, usually costing around 2000 yen.
Getting there and around
How to get to Lake Hamanako
Lake Hamanako is located ten kilometers west of central Hamamatsu, the largest city in Shizuoka Prefecture. Hamamatsu is a stop along the Tokaido Shinkansen (85 minutes, about 8500 yen from Tokyo or Shin-Osaka by hourly direct Hikari trains). From Hamamatsu Station, take a bus to Kanzanji Onsen (40 minutes, 620 yen, departures at least twice per hour).
How to get around Lake Hamanako
Although Lake Hamanako is very large, the majority of its attractions are centered around Kanzanji Onsen and within walking distance from one another. Stretching along the southern coast of a small inlet, all attractions can be reached within a 30 minute walk from each other.
Hours and Fees
Pal Pal Amusement Park
Usually 10:00 to 17:00, but opening times vary
Some weekdays during low seasons
1200 yen (admission only), 4100 yen (free pass including admission and rides)
9:00 to 17:00 (the time of the last departure varies seasonally)
Several days in January, February, June, July and December
840 yen (round trip), 420 yen (one way)
Hamamatsu Flower Park
9:00 to 16:30 (from 10:00 in Dec to Feb, until 17:00 from Mar to Sep)
Occasional evening opening hours
Admission ends 30 minutes before closing time
December 29 to 31
500 to 1000 yen depending on the season; free in July and August