Suwa (諏訪) is a city in Nagano prefecture.
The cheapest way to get here from Tokyo or Kyoto is by bus. You can also get to Suwa by train from Nagano, first go to Matsumoto and take the Limited Express on the Chuo Train line.
The bus station is across the street from the train station on Route 20. It is a small office on the outside of the Plaza.
Check for buses to Suwa sights.
There are three local bus routes on those ridiculous looking buses with the quince fruit on the outside. They can take you to Suwakoland, as well as shopping the big stores, and Montbell at Station Park.
You can walk to the castle, geyser, and around the downtown area. Trains to neighboring cities.
Rent a bicycle at the JR station rental agency. To reach the Yatsugatake, take a train to Chino and then a bus to Minodoguchi.
- 1 Suwa Geyser Center (諏訪湖間欠泉センター). Apr-Sep 09:00-18:00, Oct-Mar 09:00-17:00. A once an hour 10-min eruption. See the website for exact times.
- 2 Takashima Castle (諏訪高島城). Apr-Sep 09:00-17:30, Oct-Mar 09:00-16:30. This castle is quite nice but lacks English signs. ¥300.
- 3 Takashima Park (高島公園). The park is especially enjoyable in cherry blossom season.
- 1 Onbashira-sai. Every six years, Suwa is home to Onbashira-sai, one of the "three dangerous festivals" in Japan. Onbashira is a symbolic reconstruction of the four shrines of the Suwa Taisha with gigantic logs harvested from the forests at the base of Mt. Yatsugatake. The highlight of the festival is the kiotoshi portion, where brave and foolhardy young men ride on these giant logs as they slide down a steep hill. Injuries are common and occasionally deaths occur.
- Onsen. Enjoy the hot springs.
- 2 Hike the Yatsugatake (八ヶ岳).
- Bike around the lake.
- Suwakoland (すわっこランド) (on the SW side of the lake). Work out, swim, and onsen.
- 3 Kirigamine Highland (霧ヶ峰). Look at flowers at this volcano.
- Suwa Fireworks Festival (諏訪湖祭湖上花火大会, suwako-matsuri kojō hanabitaikai). An enormous event on the lake on August 15th. Get there early, mark your sitting spot the night before or the early morning of, eat stand food, drink beer, watch one of the top 5 fireworks shows in Japan. Come early to the fireworks and visit the Taiko Festival in neighboring Okaya a few days before.
Soba, bee larvae, raw horse, and fried grasshopper are the local specialties.
There are many izakayas around the station area. Some small local bars in the downtown area. The izakaya in Suwa Plaza across from the station is part of a chain and quite nice.
The best option for a budget traveler is to find a local English teacher and stay with them, or to camp on the west side of the lake, or up the hill behind Suwa near Kirigamine.
- 1 Masuya Guest House (マスヤゲストハウス), 314 Hirasawa-cho, Shimosuwa-machi (On the NW side of Lake Suwa.), ☏ . A cool and relaxed hostel. The hostel has a shared kitchen, open lounge area and a small bar that serves drinks to guests and locals in the evening. The dorm rooms are spacious and the beds include a storage compartment, lamp and power point. The hostel has some nice touches including the provision of free soap that can be taken to local onsen and a coffee machine that can be used for a small fee. The hostel appears to be frequented by mainly Japanese travelers and locals from the area, so it is a nice place to practice your Japanese. Dormitory beds ¥2900.
|Routes through Suwa|
|Nagoya ← Shiojiri ←||W E||→ Kofu → Tokyo|
|Nagoya ← Komagane←N Junction ←||W E||→ Kobuchizawa → Kofu|