About Shimosuwa

Welcome to Shimosuwa

Lake Suwa, the largest lake in Nagano, can be found in Shimosuwa. The lake surface sits at a high altitude of 759 m, making for summers that are comfortably cool and less humid. Despite the bitter cold of winter, there are many sunny days and the chance for lucky visitors to witness the mysterious Omiwatari phenomenon. Home to one of Japan's oldest shrines, Suwa Taisha Shrine, this richly historical town flourished as the only post town (a type of rest stop during the Edo along the Nakasendo Highway (a famous transport route) with hot springs. Recently, a younger generation has made the town their home, inspiring a number of specialty and craft shops to start businesses here. Shimosuwa's unique blend of nature, history, the new and the old, means there is always something to enjoy for everyone.

Discover Shimosuwa’s history

Shimosua's history is long and rich. Life here reaches back as far as the Paleolithic era when stone tools which have been discovered in the area were used. The town has flourished and changed through various significant periods in Japan's history. Religion, myth and mystery have always played a role since long ago and still remains to this day. Read on to discover the many ways in which Shimosuwa has developed over time to become the unique town it is today.

A Day in Shimosuwa

Below is a recommended itinerary for a day in Shimosuwa. Our town is an excellent destination for a daytrip from Tokyo or other areas and a great place to spend a relaxing evening in one of our storied guesthouses. Visitors can expect to spend around 100 minutes strolling through the town and taking in its famous sites.

  • Morning

    A morning of shrines, temples, and bubbling hot springs

    Many of Shimosuwa’s hot springs open early in the morning. What better way to rise and shine than with a refreshingly steamy hot spring bath followed by breakfast at a local café? Hit the streets after breakfast to visit the shrines and temples in the area. You can feel the morning sun as its rays pierce Jiunji Temple’s tree-lined approach, while Harumiya and Akimiya Shrines in the Shimosha branch of Suwa Taisha are known throughout all of Japan. Be sure to pay them a visit!

  • Daytime

    Explore Shimosuwa

    Take advantage of the daylight to visit a variety of sightseeing spots around the town. Shimosuwa flourished during the Edo Period, and the townscape of settlements at that time can still be enjoyed today. In addition to walking, the town also offers e-bikes that can be rented and used to cycle around the area. Art galleries, museums, and other artistic spots can be found along the shores of Lake Suwa for visitors to enjoy, while activities like wakasagi (Japanese smelt) fishing and apple picking will let you experience Shimosuwa’s nature firsthand.

  • Evening

    Take a dip in the footbath to refresh your mind and body

    Visitors can take a quick break and dip their feet in foot bath hot springs found throughout Shimosuwa. These locations are perfect for taking in the evening views of Lake Suwa while resting your tired legs after a long day of walking. There are plenty of high-quality hot springs around, too, so going for a steam wouldn’t be a bad idea either. After refreshing yourself in the town’s hot springs, go out for some excellent local cuisine that will surely fill you up.

  • Night

    Bars, snack bars, and meeting the locals

    A number of bars and other dining establishments located in the heart of Shimosuwa are open late into the evening. Some of these establishments are known as “snack bars” where guests can order alcohol and eat light bar food while speaking with the “mama” (the proprietor) across the counter. Locals often congregate at these locations that give visitors a great chance to speak with both the owner and people from the area. Many snack bars are even equipped with karaoke, meaning you can enjoy singing your heart out with other patrons.

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