HomeStoriesSpotlightLake Hamana – A large ‘Ocean Lake’ full of surpris...

Lake Hamana – A large ‘Ocean Lake’ full of surprises

Lake Hamana in Shizuoka is a large brackish lake that stretches inland from the coast with a unique ecosystem that provides a wide variety of experiences & activities. 

It was a freshwater lake until a 1498 earthquake that connected it to the Pacific Ocean, so it is technically a lagoon.

The water in Lake Hamana is brackish. It means the water is a mix of salt water from the Pacific Ocean and fresh water that flows down from the Japanese Southern alps. Therefore, the lake water does not have the same amount of salt content as the ocean.


Lake Hamana is the second largest brackish lake in Japan at 65km² with a total circumference of 114 km. The lake is most famous for its Food, Activities and Onsen – More Information – PDF.

Due to the size of the lake and the land formations, there are many areas and districts around the lake ready to be explored. It is difficult to define Lake Hamana and what each area provides – there are three ‘destinations’ that are worth checking out.

Various activity options available at Lake Hamana

Oku-Hamana is the name used to describe the mountainous area North & West of the Tenryu Hamanako Line –See Map. Highlights of this area include 1,300 year old Ryotanji Temple, Mandarin Orange Picking, Paragliding & the Ryugashido Cavern.

Central / Eastern Lake Area is a section of land on the East Coast in the middle of the lake. This area includes the famous hot spring resort town of Kanzanji, the Hamamatsu Flower Park and the Hamanako Garden Park.

Southern Coastal Area follows the Local JR Tokaido Line and offers access to beaches, historic buildings, amazing sunsets and unique activities.

The options for things to do here are endless and varied depending on which areas and which season you visit.


‘Oku’ in Japanese means ‘back’ or ‘behind’ and is a prefix that is often used to refer to areas that are off the beaten track and commonly describes a sparsely populated, forested or mountainous area.

Ryotanji Temple – one of the 5 temples of Oku-Hamana

Oku-Hamana consists of the Northern Coastline of Lake Hamana and the mostly forested area at the foothills of Japan’s Southern Alps.

The area offers many great opportunities for adventurous travelers to enjoy lake activities, onsen, hiking and exploring the “5 temples North of the Lake” which own some of the nationally-designated important cultural assets.


The Central and Eastern areas of the Lake are perhaps the most popular destination for visitors.

Kanzanji Hot Spring resort area includes hot spring hotels, culturally significant Kanzanji temple, many great restaurants and other activities.

Just South of Kanzanji, the Hamanako Garden Park is a popular destination for visitors looking to relax and unwind.

Nemophila in bloom in spring at Hamanako Garden Park


The Southern Coast of Lake Hamana that primarily consists of 2 stations on the JR Local Tokaido train line – Bentenjima and Araimachi.

Within this area there are some unique experiences for the whole family that make it worth a stop.

Have a flutter at the local Boat Race, stop off in Arai-cho and visit the old Tokaido Highway Checkpoint and museum, relax on Bentenjima beach or set out for some night fishing using traditional spears with local fishermen.

Takiya-ryo – the traditonal night spearfishing


Hop off the Bullet Train at Hamamatsu Station and it is a 12 min local train ride to Bentenjima Station on the Southern Coast.

Oku – Hamana is a little more difficult to get to – taking the Tenryu Hamanako Line from Shinjohara Station (one stop from Hamamatsu Station on the JR Tokaido Line) will get you there in about an hour.

Lake Hamana prides itself on its cycling routes, aid stations and rental bike options it is a great destination for all levels of cyclists and bikes are a great way to explore the area.


For assistance, luggage storage and more information make the Hamamatsu City Tourist Information Center your first stop.

Find experiences in and around Lake Hamana here.

Lake Hamanako Tourism Website

Related Articles