A Recreational Area on Hamana-ko
Kanzanjicho is a district located on the shore of Lake Hamana in the north-west of Hamamatsu city, in Shizuoka area in Japan. Quiet and pleasant all year round, it welcomes summer vacationists who come to enjoy the lake. Families find the resort, which includes among other things an amusement park, a zoo, a ropeway, Kanzan-ji temple, and local fish restaurants, convenient and attractive.
On the Tokaido Road, Hamamatsu is home to Lake Hamana, Japan’s tenth largest lake with a sixty-five square kilometers superficies. However, away from the downtown and the Shinkansen 🚅 JR station, this large body of water is remains unknown from international tourist who prioritize natural sites with a direct train access and close to large cities, such as Lake Biwa near Kyoto.
Family-friendly Lake Hamana
Families looking for a human-sized Japanese resort may be interested in Kanzanjicho district, located on a little peninsula between Lake Hamana-ko in the west and the enclosed Uchiura Bay in the east.
The nice promenade along the bank provides a comprehensive view of the area and of its various points of interest. Towards the Bay, short cruises to enjoy the landscape depart from the marina. Nearby, a vast green space is home to a floral park displaying vivid colors all year round, and Hamamatsu Zoological Gardens.
Hamanako Pal Pal amusement park is without a doubt the highlight of a family vacation in Kanzanjicho, however its rides are more suitable to younger children than to teenagers. There is a Ferris wheel, swings, a wooden-horses merry-go-round, go-karting, and a large aquatic area with great, large slides, very popular in summer.
Facing Pal Pal across Uchiura Bay, Mount Okusa is reachable by riding a ropeway overlooking the lake and offering a beautiful panoramic view. At the top, stands the Hamanako Music Box Museum, officially named Hamanako Orgel Museum, whose attractiveness lies in its 360° observatory on the lake located on the roof. Beside the sight, there is not much to do on the Mount, except for hiking on a couple of trails to explore.
In addition to the youth-oriented facilities, the area also offers more Japanese entertainment such as onsen ♨️ hot baths and therefore several hotels 🏨 have spa amenities for their clients. You will also find public foot baths (ashiyu) along the resort’s promenade. Moreover, the few streets between the amusement park and the left side of the lake have a nice choice of unagi eel restaurants, the regional specialty and a delicacy in Japan.
More traditional, the walk to the north-western end of Kanzanjicho peninsula feels like crossing a small ancient village, with Japanese bridges and the visit of sacred sites.
Kanzan-ji temple and its natural observatory
The entrance of Kanzan-ji temple and the adjacent Atago shrine is marked by a torii ⛩️ gate, followed by a rather long and steep stairway. The pavilions are standing on the sides of Mount Tateyama and visiting them is akin to a climb, up to the observation deck on Lake Hamana and the highway in the distance that crosses the water on a long red bridge.
The architecture of the main buildings is modest but its decoration beautiful, with countless ema plates reminding tourists that the place is especially popular among the locals. A little bit higher, it is possible to pray in a little cave fitted with an altar.
At the beginning of the ascension, a large statue of Kannon, the Bodhisattva of compassion (or former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s portrait?!) complement the spiritual visit. If you continue walking, the path goes down to a little beach 🏖 on the western side of the hill.
Kanzanjicho district is a breath of fresh air in the visit of Hamamatsu and can easily fill up one afternoon and up to two days. It provides an atmosphere of holidays by the sea, enjoyable even in winter. Beware, however, of the Japanese holidays’ periods, as the area, and the amusement park particularly, become quite crowded.