Lake Yamanaka – Yamanakako, Japan - Atlas Obscura

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Lake Yamanaka

Yamanakako, Japan

The largest of the Fuji Five Lakes is home to an impressive swan population—some real, some with paddles, and one with an observation deck. 


Mount Fuji is a couple of hour’s drive southwest of Tokyo, and it is surrounded by the area known as Fuji-Goko, or Fuji Five Lakes. The “Fuji Five” of Fuji-Goko refers to the cluster of lakes around the northern edge of the volcanic mountain. The largest of the five, Lake Yamanaka, is a haven for swans—both natural and man-made.

Lake Yamanaka is unofficially known as “Swan Lake” around the village of Yamanakako, which completely surrounds the lake. It has some resort facilities (boating, fishing, dining, camping), and it’s also a prime habitat for birders—particularly those looking to see the native whooping swans. Some enterprising “Swan Lake” entrepreneurs have added to the natural swan population by means of paddle boats shaped like swans, and a large ferry boat with a swan neck and head that is in pretty close proportion to the real thing—that makes for one long neck and one big head.    

The view of Mt. Fuji from the lake is spectacular, especially from the observation deck of the ferry, or from one of the swan-shaped paddle boats. Be prepared, however. The real swans might follow you around looking for a hand-out. It’s been reported that they may try to get a little too friendly if you don’t comply, although there are less interesting ways to go than being pecked to death in the shadow of Mt. Fuji. 

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Marimo Dori (Hwy 413) from the east; Old Kamakura Oukan (Hwy 138) from the west

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