Lake Towada

Early morning mist over Lake Towada
Early morning mist over Lake Towada

Located on the border of Akita and Aomori Prefectures, Lake Towada (Towada-ko) is the largest caldera lake on Japan's main island of Honshu. With a surface area of 62 square kilometers (24 square miles) and a maximum depth of 327 meters (1,073 ft), Lake Towada is the third-deepest lake in Japan, imbuing the quiescent waters with a profound shade of steely blue.


Located within Towada-Hachimantai National Park, the lake area is particularly popular in the autumn, when the surrounding virgin forests turn crimson and gold. Drawing up to 3 million visitors every year, Lake Towada can be accessed by bus from either Aomori City or Morioka in Iwate Prefecture.


The lake is composed of two calderas, both formed as a result of a volcanic eruption some 20,000 years ago. A variety of cruises skirt the shorelines, and four observation points around Lake Towada’s borders offer stunning views of its many capes, cliffs, and inlets. The lake is drained through picturesque Oirasé Mountain Stream, where visitors can experience a misty, mystical hike along churning rapids and narrow waterfalls.

Also in the Area

Oirase Gorge

Oirase Mountain Stream

A beautiful world of tight rapids and rounded boulders.

Shirakami Sanchi

Shirakami Sanchi

The largest stretch of pristine beech forest remaining in the world.

Published July 2010. Photos © 2009 Michael Kanert.