Once upon a time, Lake Kamakita drew hundreds of visitors each year for its autumn colors. It was one of Saitama’s most famous autumn leaves spot. However, over the years the area became very dilapidated. It still is. Most of the buildings around the lake have fallen to ruin, including the hotel which much to my surprise is actually still in business. However, the other buildings around the lake, no longer seem to be open for business. There are only a handful and most of them seem to have been restaurants. Moreover, in 2019 they removed the water from the lake and poof, just like that, Kamakita Lake was removed from all the “recommended” lists for both autumn leaves and cherry blossoms.
However, the water was refilled earlier this year. The schedule was delayed and the refill was later than planned, but thankfully in time for this year’s autumn leaf season. The area around the lake may still be in a state of disrepair, but it doesn’t matter too much if you are just going for the scenery. Plus, good news is they are still working on the area, so hopefully with time it will be restored to its former glory. Furthermore, the lake house, a building that looks golden in sunlight, is thankfully still in good condition. (About the only building that is!) Furthermore, the trees are still around the lake and as glorious as ever. And as you can see from the photos taken today, November 12th, they create a stunning scene worth putting Kamakita back on the map. Lake Kamakita may even reclaim its position on the lists of places to see autumn leaves in Saitama Prefecture!
Kamakita lake is located in Moroyama town in the Iruma district (Iruma gun) of Saitama Prefecture. It is actually an artificial lake, built in 1935 as a reservoir for farming purposes. In 2013 the lake failed a seismic resistance test during a routine inspection. Moroyama town started its earthquake resistance plan in 2017 and in 2019, as part of that plan, they drained the lake. It involved removing thousands of gallons of water. I brought the kids in spring 2020, when there was no school due to the pandemic, and we went down into the basin. It was quite an effective geography lesson!
Rather unusually, you can’t actually walk the circumference of the lake. But you can walk along the North and the East of the lake. From the North West there is a steep road that brings you up the mountain the lake is backdropped by. It seems to be very popular with cyclists. There is just a small narrow country road and no footpaths, but the road isn’t used much. Unfortunately, you can’t go down to the lakeside at the moment. There are a few places with makeshift walkways down to the water’s edge, but they don’t look very secure. In fact, I had a “life flashed in front of my eyes” moment today, when I nearly slipped down a cliff! And I wasn’t even using one of the precarious looking walkways!
There are plenty of hiking trails of differing levels. There is an entrance by the east car park of the lake to the eleven kilometer long Okumusashi Nature Trail. The car park map shows a trail to Mt Hiwada and others in neighboring Hidaka. In addition, to the west of the lake there is another popular hiking trail to the Shukuya falls. That is about a 4.2 kilometer trail. If you want to push it further, you can go onto Monomiyama. The easiest and most convenient though, is by the main car park. It goes into a little park of sorts called Shiki Sai no Oka park. You can do a full loop or just climb up to the “momiji hiroba” where there are several maple trees.
Before the water was removed from the lake, you could take row boats and swan (pedal) boats out on the lake. However, that service is temporarily suspended. You can see a couple of lose row boats floating on the lake. But there are currently only four swan boats and they are tied up away from the public part of the lake. If they reintroduce the boating I will update with the prices at that time.
There are some somei yoshino cherry blossoms around the lake which are very photogenic. They typically bloom around the end of March to early April. In addition, there is a small avenue of cherry blossoms right by the main entrance to the lake. There are also some yaezakura around the lake too. They bloom around mid April.
|Lake Kamakita | Kamakita Lake | 鎌北湖|
|Address:||735-1 Oyagi, Moroyama, Iruma District, Saitama 350-0452|
|Cost:||Park and parking free|
Swan boats charged
|Hours:||24 hours in theory, but the car parks are closed off at night.|
Facilities such as the lake boats are seasonal.
Lake Kamakita is called Kamakita Lake on Google maps, but putting it into maps in either order will bring the correct location up.
Unfortunately this is one of those places that is most easily accessed by car. However, it is not impossible by public transport. Especially as the town bus, “Yuzu route 1”, passes through (only a handful of times a day) and stops at the dai ni (number two) car park on the North west end of the lake. To walk from Moro station (Hachiko line) would take about an hour.