Welcome to the luminous city of Hamamatsu, an enchanting destination nestled in the heart of Japan’s Honshu island, in the Shizuoka Prefecture. This travel guide is dedicated to unraveling the many layers of Hamamatsu, a city that, while not as globally renowned as Tokyo or Kyoto, offers a tapestry of experiences rich in cultural heritage, technological innovation, and natural beauty.
The Cityscape and its Heritage: Hamamatsu, strategically positioned between Tokyo and Osaka, is a microcosm of Japan’s storied history and its dynamic push towards the future. It is a city where traditional craftsmanship merges seamlessly with cutting-edge industry. Known as the ‘City of Music’, it is the birthplace of world-famous musical instruments produced by companies such as Yamaha and Kawai. The Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments is a testament to this heritage, showcasing over 1,300 instruments from across the globe, allowing visitors to not only see but hear the world’s musical diversity.
Cultural Infusion: Culture in Hamamatsu is a vibrant affair. The city celebrates its diversity with the Hamamatsu Festival, featuring magnificent kite battles that paint the sky and the resonating sounds of Taiko drums that fill the air during the first week of May. It’s a sight that encapsulates the spirit of the city—joyous, colorful, and full of life. Additionally, the Hamamatsu Gourmet Festival offers a feast for the senses, where one can indulge in the succulent eel, a local delicacy, or the diverse range of street food that tells the story of the city’s multicultural fabric.
The Natural Wonders: The natural landscape around Hamamatsu is as varied as it is stunning. To the south, the Pacific Ocean graces the city with its presence, where the Nakatajima Sand Dunes offer a dramatic panorama of wind-sculpted sand against the backdrop of an expansive sky. Venturing west, Lake Hamana beckons with its brackish waters, ideal for a plethora of water sports and home to oyster farms that produce pearls of exquisite beauty. The flower parks and botanical gardens around the lake are a riot of color, particularly during the cherry blossom season, when the fleeting sakura bloom heralds the arrival of spring with a delicate pink hue.
Technological Hub: Hamamatsu’s prowess in technology is evident in its moniker as ‘Japan’s City of Invention’. It’s a hub for optics technology, and the presence of companies like Suzuki and Honda reflects the city’s strong roots in the automotive industry. This blend of craftsmanship and technology can be witnessed firsthand in factory tours, which provide a unique insight into Japan’s manufacturing excellence.
Leisure and Lifestyle: For the leisurely traveler, Hamamatsu offers a relaxed pace with its numerous onsens (hot springs), where one can unwind in the therapeutic waters that have soothed locals and visitors alike for centuries. The city’s love for music extends into its nightlife, with jazz clubs and live music venues offering performances that range from classical to contemporary, reflecting the city’s deep musical roots.
Culinary Delights: No travel guide to Hamamatsu would be complete without diving into its culinary scene. Hamamatsu’s gyoza, delectable dumplings with a variety of fillings, are famed throughout Japan. The city’s coastal location also means that seafood is exceptionally fresh, with sashimi and sushi bars offering the day’s catch prepared to perfection.
Outdoor Adventures: For the adventurous soul, the surrounding hills and mountains of the Hamamatsu area provide ample opportunities for hiking and biking. The Tenryu River, one of Japan’s longest, is a perfect spot for fishing or enjoying a tranquil boat ride. In the autumn, the forested areas around the city are a mosaic of reds, oranges, and yellows, providing a breathtaking spectacle for nature lovers and photographers alike.
Accommodations and Hospitality: Accommodations in Hamamatsu range from luxury hotels to traditional ryokans, where the Japanese art of hospitality, ‘omotenashi’, ensures that every guest is treated with utmost respect and care. Experience the tatami-floored rooms, futon beds, and the warmth of Japanese hospitality that makes a stay in Hamamatsu both memorable and rejuvenating.
As you embark on your journey through this guide, prepare to be enchanted by Hamamatsu’s myriad offerings. From its buzzing city center to its tranquil countryside, from the high notes of a symphony to the quiet murmur of a mountain stream, Hamamatsu awaits to tell you its story, to become a part of your travel tales, and to leave you with memories that resonate long after your return home.
Hamamatsu City Guide: A Brief History Of Hamamatsu, Japan For Visitors
Hamamatsu, a city of innovation and tradition, boasts a rich history that stretches back centuries, tracing the evolution of a once modest castle town into a modern industrial powerhouse. This storied past is not just etched into the ancient structures and historic sites scattered across the city but is also deeply woven into the cultural fabric and spirit of Hamamatsu’s people. Here we will delve into the historical tapestry that makes Hamamatsu a compelling destination for history buffs and casual visitors alike.
Prehistoric Beginnings and Ancient Foundations: The area around modern-day Hamamatsu has been inhabited for thousands of years, as evidenced by archaeological finds such as earthenware from the Jomon period (14,000-300 BCE) and Yayoi period (300 BCE – 300 CE). During these ancient times, the region was known for its agricultural productivity, with the bounty of the land and the sea providing a robust foundation for the growth of settlements.
The Nara and Heian Eras: Moving into the Nara (710-794) and Heian (794-1185) periods, the region that encompasses today’s Hamamatsu was part of a province known as Tōtōmi. It was during these eras that the influence of the imperial court and the introduction of Buddhism became prevalent. Hamamatsu’s position along the Tokaido route, one of the five key routes of the Edo period, began to take on importance.
The Kamakura to the Sengoku Period: During the Kamakura period (1185-1333), samurai clans rose to prominence, and the area saw the establishment of several military houses. It was in the subsequent Sengoku period (1467-1600), an era marked by social upheaval and near-constant military conflict, that Hamamatsu’s strategic value came to the fore. The region was under the control of various daimyō (feudal lords), including the illustrious Tokugawa Ieyasu, who would later unify Japan. Ieyasu established Hamamatsu Castle in 1532, making it his residence for a time. The castle town that developed around this structure became the nucleus of modern-day Hamamatsu.
The Edo Period and Tokugawa Shogunate: During the Edo period (1603-1868), with Japan under the firm control of the Tokugawa shogunate, Hamamatsu flourished as a post town on the Tokaido route. Travelers, merchants, and feudal lords (daimyō) would stop in Hamamatsu to rest, trade, and resupply as they journeyed between Edo (modern-day Tokyo) and Kyoto. This period saw a blossoming of culture, commerce, and the arts in the town.
Meiji Restoration and Modernization: The Meiji Restoration of 1868 marked the end of the shogunate and the beginning of Japan’s rapid modernization. Hamamatsu, like much of Japan, underwent significant changes during this time. The abolition of the feudal domains and the establishment of the prefectural system in 1871 saw Hamamatsu become part of Shizuoka Prefecture. The construction of the railway in the late 19th century, including the Tokaido Main Line, further integrated Hamamatsu into the national economy and accelerated its development.
20th Century Industrialization: The 20th century was a period of tremendous growth for Hamamatsu, particularly in the realm of industry. The establishment of companies such as Yamaha and Suzuki, which began as manufacturers of musical instruments and looms respectively, transformed the city into a center of manufacturing and technological innovation. After the devastating impact of World War II, Hamamatsu played a crucial role in Japan’s economic recovery, with its factories contributing significantly to the country’s industrial resurgence.
Contemporary Hamamatsu: Today’s Hamamatsu is a testament to its history, showcasing a blend of traditional and modern. While the Hamamatsu Castle has been reconstructed, it serves as a symbol of the city’s past, housing a museum that chronicles the life of Tokugawa Ieyasu and the region’s history. The city’s musical instrument manufacturing past lives on, celebrated in museums and festivals, and its industrial sector continues to thrive.
For visitors, Hamamatsu’s history can be experienced through its historic sites, such as the ruins of old castle towns, the Hamamatsu Festival, and the city’s many museums. The narrative of the past is ever-present in the vibrancy of the city, the pride of its people, and in the cultural traditions that continue to be honored and reinterpreted in contemporary Hamamatsu.
In exploring Hamamatsu, you encounter the layers of history that tell the broader story of Japan’s journey from a patchwork of feudal territories to a unified nation and onward to an economic juggernaut, all the while maintaining a unique regional identity that beckons travelers to discover and enjoy.
Hamamatsu Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit in Japan
While it is known as an industrial city that gave birth to the Suzuki Corporation (among others), Hamamatsu is home to plenty of attractions that will entertain travellers passing through.
From museums that profile the exploits of its hometown company to ocean and flower parks that will impress nature-minded visitors, it is a worthwhile stop on an intensive tour of Japan.
Come check out our Hamamatsu travel guide as we cover the best things to do in Hamamatsu, Japan.
Start your tour of the Hamamatsu area by discovering Hamamatsu Air Park. Here, you’ll get to check out vintage and modern airplanes, helicopters, and other aircraft used by the Japanese Self-Defence Force.
The fighter jets are especially impressive, as you can climb into the cockpit of some of the ones on display. What’s more, there is a flight simulator you can use to see if you have what it takes to pilot one of these super-powered birds.
Best of all, there is no charge for visitors, making it a great activity if you are travelling as a family. There is also a gift shop on the premises if you wish to take home a memento of your time here.
Hamamatsu is home to Suzuki, one of Japan’s most famous corporations. Take a look at the products they have made throughout the years by dropping by Suzuki Plaza during your visit. Like Toyota, this company started off in the textile business, weaving fabrics for its customers.
However, as the years went by, it started to get into manufacturing vehicles like cars and motorized bikes. To this day, these products remain the most important contribution it has made to the world. As you make your way through the museum, you’ll get to see the older models of its vehicles, how they are manufactured, and other fun facts about how they have impacted life in Japan.
Like the Air Park, Suzuki Plaza has no admission fee, and it also has a gift shop. Stocked with collectables that can’t be found anywhere else, it’s worth a look inside if you or someone you know is a fan of this brand.
This city is also home to a rather unique attraction – the Hamamatsu Musical Instrument Museum . Surprisingly, it is the only institution of its kind in Japan, making it an especially worthwhile place to visit while in the area.
Since this city is where companies like Yamaha and Kawai produce musical instruments, it is understandable why public funds have been invested to bring more than 1,000 unique artifacts from every populated continent on Earth.
In addition to standard pieces like violins and pianos, exotic specimens like angklungs (a bamboo pipe instrument from Indonesia) and mbiras (an African invention often known as a thumb piano) can also be found here, making it an attraction that any fan of music won’t want to miss.
Want to check out a religious landmark before moving on from Hamamatsu? Make time in your schedule to check out the Ryotanji Temple. Around since the 8th century, this institution contains many of the typical trappings of a Zen Buddhist temple.
However, it is notable for the ‘singing’ floors in contains. Built in this fashion to alert sleeping occupants of intruders, it served as an alarm system during Japan’s medieval age.
Other Cultural Attractions: Trip to Hamamatsu, Japan
If you aren’t a huge stickler for authenticity, then a visit to Hamamatsu Castle will prove to be a worthwhile use of your time while in Hamamatsu. The original structure was bombed flat during Allied air raids during the Second World War, meaning that the castle that stands today was rebuilt completely in modern times.
Within, you’ll find original swords, armour, and other artifacts salvaged from the ruins, and with numerous cherry trees on the property, the castle is the place to be when sakura blossoms are blooming during the spring months.
Need a break from the urban landscapes which can be found throughout Japan? While in Hamamatsu, a visit to Nakatajima Dune will help you if you need to spend time in nature. Located 15 minutes outside the city centre, it is truly off the grid – with no vending machines, shops, or facilities of any kind, you’ll have nothing to distract you from the sandy beach and the sea.
Love the idea of spelunking, but not in a mood to get your clothes dirty? Pay a visit to Ryugashido Cavern. With rooms that are well lit, you’ll be able to appreciate the stalagmites and stalactites inside without having to fumble around with a flashlight. Boasting a year-round temperature within of 19 degrees Celsius, it is a great escape from the heat of summer and the chill of winter.
End your time in this unique corner of Japan by spending an hour or two at the Hamamatsu Flower Park. While it is best known for its collection of tulips, it has more than 3,000 different types of flora, making it a great place to go during the spring.
source: Sky Travel on YouTube
Top 55 Things To Do in Hamamatsu For Visitors
Creating a comprehensive list of the top 55 things to do in Hamamatsu is a venture into the city’s rich tapestry of activities that range from cultural experiences to natural explorations and technological wonders. Here is a detailed guide to help visitors make the most of their time in this vibrant city:
- Hamamatsu Castle: Discover where Tokugawa Ieyasu spent his formative years. The surrounding park is particularly beautiful during cherry blossom season.
- Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments: Explore the sounds and instruments from all over the world, reflecting the city’s musical heritage.
- Act Tower Observatory: Enjoy a panoramic view of the city and, on a clear day, a glimpse of Mount Fuji and the Southern Alps.
- Nakatajima Sand Dunes: Experience the vast, windswept dunes that offer a different kind of natural beauty.
- Hamamatsu Flower Park: Wander through the colorful blooms and themed gardens, which are delightful throughout the year.
- Hamamatsu Festival Pavilion: Learn about the city’s famous kite festival and try your hand at traditional crafts.
- The Kite Museum: Delve into the history and artistry of kites, an integral part of Hamamatsu’s culture.
- Shosan Horinji Temple: Admire the temple’s intricate architecture and the peaceful atmosphere.
- Ryotanji Temple: Visit this historic Zen temple with a beautiful rock garden.
- Maisaka-shuku and Arai-shuku: Walk through these old post towns that were once stops on the Tokaido route.
- Lake Hamana: Engage in water sports, cycling, or a leisurely cruise on the lake.
- Hamamatsu Fruit Park Tokinosumika: Pick fresh fruit, taste local wines, and enjoy flower fields.
- Okura Act City Hamamatsu: Catch a concert or a performance at this impressive cultural complex.
- Hamamatsu City Zoo: Spend a day with the family observing both native and exotic wildlife.
- Ryugashido Cavern: Explore this ancient limestone cave with stunning stalactite and stalagmite formations.
- Enshunada Sea: Take a beach day or witness a breathtaking sunrise at the Pacific Ocean.
- Hamamatsu Air Park (JASDF Air Base): See impressive aircraft and learn about the Japan Air Self-Defense Force.
- Hamanako Palpal Amusement Park: Enjoy rides and attractions suitable for all ages.
- Hosoe Jinja Shrine: Experience the serenity and beauty of this local Shinto shrine.
- Suzuki Plaza: Dive into the history of Suzuki motor company and its innovations.
- Unagi (Eel) Tasting: Hamamatsu is famous for its eel dishes; visit a local restaurant to try this delicacy.
- Gyoza Sampling: Sample Hamamatsu’s take on these delicious dumplings at various eateries across the city.
- Hamamatsu Sushi: Savor fresh sushi in a city known for its seafood.
- Japanese Tea Ceremony: Participate in this traditional ceremony to appreciate the nuances of Japanese green tea.
- Local Sake Breweries: Take a tour and taste some of the finest sake in the region.
- Melon Picking: Visit a farm and taste some of the sweetest melons, a popular product of the region.
- Craft Beer Tasting: Enjoy a pint at one of Hamamatsu’s local breweries and pubs.
- Bentenjima Seafood BBQ: Have a seaside barbecue with the freshest catches of the day.
- Mikkabi Mikan Oranges: Visit orchards to pick and taste these juicy local oranges.
- Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki: Try these popular Japanese street foods at a local festival or street stall.
Adventure and Outdoor Activities:
- Hiking in Tenryu-Okumikawa Quasi-National Park: Discover waterfalls, valleys, and ancient forests.
- Paragliding at Soni Highlands: For the thrill-seekers, take to the skies and enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the landscape.
- Cycling Around Lake Hamana: Rent a bike and enjoy the scenic paths around the lake.
- Fishing on Tenryu River: Relax by the river and perhaps catch your dinner!
- Surfing at Maisaka Beach: Ride the waves at one of Hamamatsu’s sandy beaches.
- Golfing: Hamamatsu offers several picturesque golf courses.
- Scuba Diving: Explore the underwater wonders of the Pacific coast.
- Mt. Okusa Observation Deck: Hike or drive up to the observation deck for a stunning vista.
Nightlife and Entertainment:
- Live Music Venues: Enjoy jazz, rock, or traditional music at various venues around the city.
- Nighttime Stroll in Downtown Hamamatsu: The city comes alive at night with its restaurants and bars.
- Karaoke Bars: Embrace the Japanese tradition of singing your heart out in a private room with friends.
- Night Markets: Discover local snacks and trinkets at seasonal night markets.
Shopping and Leisure:
- May One Shopping Mall: Find everything from fashion to souvenirs.
- Local Artisan Shops: Purchase unique crafts, such as Hamamatsu’s traditional woven textiles.
- Kanzanji Ropeway Shopping Street: Browse the shops and enjoy the view from the ropeway.
- Shirasuka Shop Houses: Explore the preserved shop houses from the Edo period.
- Onsen Resorts: Relax in the hot springs at Kanzanji Onsen or Bentenjima Onsen.
Seasonal Events and Festivals:
- Hamamatsu Matsuri (Kite Festival): Participate in or watch the kite flying battles and the evening illuminations.
- Shoryu Weeping Ume Blossom Festival: Admire the early spring blossoms at Ryotanji Temple.
- Hamamatsu International Piano Competition: Enjoy performances by pianists from around the world.
- Akiha Fire Festival: Witness this dramatic festival held in December.
- Princess Road Festival in Kiga: Step back in time during this festival celebrating the Edo period.
- Honda and Suzuki Factory Tours: Gain insight into the world-class manufacturing processes.
- Hamamatsu Science Museum: Engage with interactive exhibits and learn about science and technology.
- Hamamatsu City Museum: Delve deeper into the local history and archeology of the region.
Each of these activities offers a unique window into the soul of Hamamatsu, making the city an unforgettable stop on any journey through Japan. Whether it’s the depth of its cultural history, the excitement of its outdoor activities, the delight of its culinary scene, or the warmth of its people, Hamamatsu invites visitors to immerse themselves fully and leave with their own personal stories etched by the diverse experiences the city has to offer.
source: everydaygourmettv on YouTube
What To Eat and Drink in Hamamatsu, Japan
Hamamatsu, a city endowed with a rich culinary tradition shaped by its location between mountain, lake, and sea, offers a variety of delectable dishes that tantalize the taste buds of both locals and visitors. Here’s an extensive guide to what to eat and drink when you find yourself in this vibrant city:
Unagi No Kabayaki (Grilled Eel)
Arguably Hamamatsu’s most famous culinary export, unagi no kabayaki is a must-try. Eels are grilled to perfection after being basted with a sweet soy-based sauce. The cooking process, which often includes a steaming step before the grilling, renders the eel’s flesh tender and causes the skin to crisp up slightly. This dish is commonly served over a bed of steamed rice as unadon (eel bowl), making for a hearty and satisfying meal.
These Japanese dumplings are unique to Hamamatsu and are characterized by their smaller size and the generous use of cabbage in the filling, alongside minced pork, chives, and garlic. They’re pan-fried to achieve a crispy bottom layer and are often enjoyed with a dipping sauce made from soy sauce, vinegar, and chili oil.
Freshness is key in Hamamatsu’s tempura offerings, with an array of seafood and vegetables being lightly battered and deep-fried to create a delightful contrast of crunchy exterior and succulent interior.
A delightful combination of tempura and onigiri (rice ball), tenmusu is a popular snack or light meal. Typically, a single piece of shrimp tempura is wrapped inside a rice ball and covered with a sheet of nori (seaweed), creating a savory, portable treat.
Oden is a type of Japanese hot pot that’s particularly popular during the colder months. It includes a variety of ingredients such as daikon radish, konnyaku, boiled eggs, and fish cakes, all simmered in a light, soy-flavored dashi broth.
While often associated with the nearby Yamanashi Prefecture, hōtō noodles have found a second home in Hamamatsu. These flat, wide udon-like noodles are stewed in a miso-based soup with vegetables and sometimes meat, creating a hearty, comforting dish.
Sushi and Sashimi
Thanks to its proximity to the ocean, Hamamatsu offers incredibly fresh sushi and sashimi. Local specialties include horse mackerel (aji) and red snapper (tai), often enjoyed at local izakayas or upscale sushi restaurants.
The region around Hamamatsu is renowned for its fruit cultivation, particularly mikan oranges and melons. These fruits often find their way into decadent parfaits, layered with ice cream, whipped cream, and other sweet accompaniments.
Hamamatsu Craft Beers
The craft beer scene in Hamamatsu is burgeoning, with several microbreweries offering a variety of styles, from crisp lagers to hoppy IPAs and rich stouts. These local brews are perfect to enjoy with a meal or on their own at a local bar.
Shizuoka Prefecture, where Hamamatsu is located, is a notable sake-producing area. Local breweries use the clear waters flowing from the Southern Alps to craft sake ranging from dry to sweet, with some offering tours and tastings.
Shizuoka is also one of Japan’s premier tea-growing regions, and a trip to Hamamatsu wouldn’t be complete without sampling green tea, such as sencha, genmaicha, and matcha. These teas can be enjoyed in traditional tea houses, some of which offer a view of the tea fields.
For those with a sweet tooth, Hamamatsu has a range of Japanese-style desserts like mochi, dorayaki (red bean-filled pancakes), and matcha-flavored sweets. Wagashi, traditional Japanese confections, are often served with tea and are as beautiful to look at as they are to eat.
In recent years, Hamamatsu has developed a vibrant coffee culture, with numerous cafes roasting their own beans and serving up meticulously brewed cups of coffee. It’s the perfect pick-me-up as you explore the city.
Beyond alcoholic offerings, visitors can enjoy a variety of non-alcoholic drinks like amazake (a sweet, low-alcohol or non-alcoholic rice drink), a variety of soft drinks including melon soda (a favorite among children), and unique local creations that utilize the region’s fresh fruits.
In Hamamatsu, food is not merely nourishment but a narrative of the region’s history, geography, and culture. Each meal presents an opportunity to partake in a story that has been cultivated over generations. From street food stalls to high-end eateries, each chef and vendor is a custodian of flavor, offering their own interpretation of the city’s gastronomic legacy. Thus, to eat and drink in Hamamatsu is to engage in a dialogue with artisans, farmers, and the very land and sea that make up this unique corner of Japan.
source: Moriguchi Vlogs on YouTube
Top Restaurants In Hamamatsu, Japan
Hamamatsu’s restaurant scene is as varied as its cultural offerings, with establishments ranging from time-honored sushi counters to innovative eateries that reinterpret classic Japanese cuisine. Here’s an extensive list of top restaurants that visitors should consider when dining in Hamamatsu:
1. Unagi Fujita
A must-visit for eel lovers, Unagi Fujita has perfected the art of grilling eel. Their unagi no kabayaki (grilled eel) is a signature dish where the eel is grilled to a succulent tenderness and glazed with a secret-recipe sauce. The atmosphere of the restaurant complements the traditional meal, offering a full cultural dining experience.
For those seeking an authentic sushi experience, Mutsugiku provides an exquisite selection of fresh fish and seafood. The omakase menu, where the chef presents a series of dishes based on the day’s catch, is highly recommended. It’s an intimate dining setting, ideal for a special occasion.
3. Ichiyaboshi Motoshiro
This restaurant specializes in ichiyaboshi, which are locally sourced fish that are dried overnight. It’s a technique that concentrates the flavor, and when grilled, these fish provide a unique and delicious taste experience.
Located in a traditional Japanese house, Shougetsu offers kaiseki dining, a multi-course meal that features the freshest seasonal ingredients. Each dish is a work of art, combining flavors, textures, and aesthetics to create a memorable meal.
5. Sumiyaki Rokkasen
This restaurant is known for sumiyaki (charcoal-grilling), particularly their Wagyu beef dishes. Guests can enjoy grilling their chosen cuts of meat to their preferred doneness, with a variety of dipping sauces and sides.
For ramen enthusiasts, Chabuton provides a satisfying bowl of this quintessential Japanese comfort food. Their tonkotsu ramen, with its rich and creamy pork bone broth, is a highlight.
7. Trattoria Cesari
Blending Italian cuisine with Japanese influences, Trattoria Cesari is a testament to Hamamatsu’s cosmopolitan food scene. The chef uses local ingredients to create Italian dishes with a unique twist.
Known for their “Hamamatsu Burger,” Sawayaka is a local burger chain that has earned a cult following. The burgers are made with juicy ground beef patties and a variety of toppings that make for a hearty meal.
Hōtō noodles are a regional specialty, and Mikien serves up some of the best in Hamamatsu. Their broth is rich and flavorful, providing warmth and comfort with every bowl.
For a casual dining experience, Totoya offers teishoku (set meals) that give diners a taste of home-cooked Japanese cuisine. The menu changes regularly, offering a range of dishes that are both healthy and satisfying.
Aoyagi is a place where traditional Japanese sweets, or wagashi, are crafted with meticulous care. It doubles as a cafe where you can enjoy your sweets with matcha in a serene setting that overlooks a Japanese garden.
12. Jidoriya Henbei
Specializing in jidori (free-range chicken), Jidoriya Henbei serves yakitori (grilled skewers) and other chicken dishes that highlight the natural flavors of locally-sourced poultry.
13. Beer Bar Pub Hopper
For a laid-back evening, Pub Hopper offers a selection of local and international craft beers in a friendly, welcoming environment. Their knowledgeable staff can recommend the perfect brew to match your taste.
Offering a modern take on Japanese cuisine, Zaruzaru presents dishes that are familiar yet innovative. The restaurant’s chic decor provides the perfect backdrop for a night out.
15. Kanzanji Sago Royal Hotel’s Lakeside Dining
For those seeking a dining experience with a view, the Kanzanji Sago Royal Hotel offers lakeside dining where you can enjoy local seafood while overlooking the beautiful Lake Hamana.
16. Kissa You
For a retro Showa-era coffee shop experience, Kissa You is a treasure trove of nostalgia. Famous for their fluffy pancakes and parfaits, this cafe takes you back in time with its decor and ambiance.
17. Indian Restaurant Ganesh
Ganesh introduces the flavors of India to Hamamatsu with a comprehensive menu of curries, naan bread, and other Indian specialties. It’s a flavorful escape for those looking for something different.
18. Lei’s Hawaiian Pancakes
Bringing a taste of the tropics to Hamamatsu, Lei’s Hawaiian Pancakes serves up light and airy pancakes with a variety of toppings, alongside other Hawaiian-inspired dishes.
Each restaurant offers a distinct slice of Hamamatsu’s culinary landscape, from the deep-rooted tradition of unagi dishes to the contemporary interpretations of Japanese and international cuisines. Visitors are encouraged to explore the breadth of flavors and dining experiences available, ensuring that there’s something to satisfy every palate and provide a deeper understanding of the rich food culture of Hamamatsu, Japan.
Tours For Visitors To Hamamatsu, Japan
Hamamatsu, with its unique blend of cultural heritage, natural beauty, and industrial prowess, provides a wide range of tours that cater to different interests. Whether you are a history buff, nature lover, foodie, or music enthusiast, Hamamatsu has tours that can enrich your experience of this dynamic city. Here’s a detailed guide to some of the tours you might enjoy:
Cultural and Historical Tours
1. Hamamatsu Castle Park Tour
Explore the grounds where Tokugawa Ieyasu, one of Japan’s greatest samurai warriors, resided for 17 years. A guide will provide insights into the Sengoku period and the castle’s role in Japanese history. The adjacent park, with its seasonal flowers and teahouse, offers a peaceful retreat.
2. Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments
This tour is a melody through time and geography, featuring over 1,300 instruments from around the world. Opt for a guided tour to learn about the evolution of music and the instruments that shaped it.
3. Ryotanji Temple Tour in Iwata
Just a short trip from Hamamatsu, this Zen temple offers guided tours showcasing exquisite Edo-period architecture and garden design. It’s a spiritual journey into the philosophy of Zen Buddhism.
Nature and Ecotourism
4. Lake Hamana Cruise
Take a leisurely boat tour around Lake Hamana, known for its unique brackish water which hosts a diverse ecosystem. The scenic views of the lake coupled with the backdrop of lush mountains are breathtaking.
5. Nakatajima Sand Dunes
A guided tour of one of Japan’s largest sand dune areas is an opportunity to learn about the local flora and fauna. Evening tours are popular for watching spectacular sunsets.
6. Fruit Picking Experience
The prefecture is famous for its fruit, particularly melons and mandarin oranges. Seasonal tours to fruit farms offer the chance to pick and taste fresh fruit directly from the source.
Industrial and Craft Tours
7. Yamaha Motor Company Tour
Hamamatsu is the birthplace of the Yamaha corporation. Visit the Yamaha Motor Communication Plaza to see historical bikes, marine products, and participate in a factory tour to witness the making of Yamaha motorcycles.
8. Suzuki Plaza Tour
Another for motor enthusiasts, this tour takes you through the history of Suzuki products with exhibits of cars, motorcycles, and even musical instruments, ending with a factory tour.
9. Tea Plantation and Processing Facility Tour
With Shizuoka being Japan’s premier tea-producing region, visitors can tour a tea plantation, learn about the tea production process, and enjoy a fresh cup of green tea while surrounded by verdant fields.
Food and Drink Experiences
10. Sake Brewery Tour
Experience the sake-making process at one of Hamamatsu’s local breweries. Learn how rice is transformed into Japan’s iconic beverage, and enjoy a tasting session.
11. Gourmet Food Tour
This culinary tour takes you through various local eateries, from sushi bars to izakayas, where you can sample Hamamatsu gyoza, unagi, and other local specialties.
12. Hamamatsu Food Market Tour
Discover the local flavors and ingredients that define Hamamatsu’s cuisine. A guide will help you navigate the bustling market stalls, explaining the produce and how to use them in traditional Japanese cooking.
Art and Craftsmanship
13. Hamamatsu Textile Industry Tour
Learn about the traditional textiles of the region, including the intricate process of weaving and dyeing, by visiting local factories and workshops.
14. Craftsmanship in Musical Instruments
Since Hamamatsu is known as the City of Music, some local companies offer tours that demonstrate the craftsmanship involved in making pianos and other instruments.
15. Pottery and Ceramics Workshop Tour
Participate in a hands-on workshop where you can experience the local pottery and ceramics traditions, which make great souvenirs.
Adventure and Recreation
16. Paragliding in Tenryu
For the more adventurous, a guided paragliding experience over the Tenryu River offers an exhilarating perspective on the stunning landscapes surrounding Hamamatsu.
17. Cycling Tour Along the Enshu Coast
Rent a bike and take a guided tour along the beautiful coastline, visiting beaches, parks, and enjoying the fresh sea breeze.
Each tour is an opportunity to delve deeper into the essence of Hamamatsu, learning about its history, culture, and modern-day attractions from knowledgeable guides. Customized tours can also be arranged to suit individual interests, ensuring that every visitor has a memorable and personalized experience in this dynamic city.
Hamamatsu Accommodations Guide: Hotels, Guesthouses and Hostels
Hamamatsu offers a diverse range of accommodations that cater to different preferences and budgets. From luxury hotels with panoramic views to cozy guesthouses imbued with local charm, and from efficient business hotels to friendly hostels, there is something for every type of traveler. Here is an extensive guide to some of the best places to stay in Hamamatsu:
Luxury and Boutique Hotels
1. Okura Act City Hotel Hamamatsu
Perched within the Act City Tower, the Okura offers rooms with sweeping views of the city and the Pacific Ocean. It is renowned for its excellent service, elegant rooms, and amenities that include an indoor pool, a fitness center, and multiple dining options serving Japanese and international cuisine.
2. Grand Hotel Hamamatsu
This expansive hotel complex provides a luxurious experience with its grandiose architecture, spacious rooms, and extensive facilities such as concert halls, a bowling alley, and an indoor swimming pool. It caters to both leisure and business travelers.
3. Hotel Crown Palais
A boutique option, Hotel Crown Palais offers a blend of Western and Japanese-style accommodations, with a focus on comfort and elegance. Its location is convenient for exploring the city, and it has several in-house dining options that are highly regarded.
4. Daiwa Roynet Hotel
Situated in the heart of Hamamatsu, Daiwa Roynet Hotel provides modern accommodations with all the essential amenities for a comfortable stay, including an on-site restaurant, laundry facilities, and a business center.
5. Hotel Concorde Hamamatsu
Centrally located, Hotel Concorde offers efficient service, clean and comfortable rooms, and is within walking distance to many of Hamamatsu’s attractions, making it ideal for tourists.
6. Richmond Hotel Hamamatsu
This is a popular chain hotel known for its consistent quality and service. The Richmond in Hamamatsu upholds this reputation with its well-appointed rooms, friendly staff, and a central location that is great for exploring the city.
Economy and Business Hotels
7. Comfort Hotel Hamamatsu
Catering to business travelers and tourists alike, Comfort Hotel provides a balance of affordability and comfort, with complimentary breakfast and free Wi-Fi throughout the property.
8. Kuretake Inn Act Hamamatsu
An excellent value-for-money option, Kuretake Inn offers compact, clean rooms with amenities such as free breakfast and communal baths, which are a hit with travelers looking to unwind after a day of exploring.
Guesthouses and Ryokan
9. Guesthouse Iwata
A traditional Japanese guesthouse experience can be had at Guesthouse Iwata, offering tatami rooms, futons, and a communal atmosphere. It’s an excellent place to experience Japanese hospitality and meet fellow travelers.
10. Ryokan Nakaya
Located near Lake Hamana, Ryokan Nakaya offers an authentic ryokan experience with onsen facilities and traditional kaiseki meals featuring local ingredients from the lake and surrounding areas.
Hostels and Budget Accommodations
11. Hamamatsu Station Hostel
For budget travelers, this hostel offers dormitory beds, private rooms, and a shared kitchen. It’s a great place to connect with other travelers, and it’s just a short walk from Hamamatsu Station.
12. K’s House Hamamatsu
Part of the reputable K’s House chain, this hostel is known for its cleanliness, friendly staff, and social atmosphere. It provides both dormitory-style and private rooms, and it often organizes events and tours for guests.
Unique and Specialty Lodging
13. Hoshino Resorts KAI Enshu
For a high-end traditional stay, this luxury ryokan on the shores of Lake Hamana offers rooms with private onsens, exquisite local cuisine, and serene lake views, providing a truly tranquil and luxurious Japanese experience.
14. Listel Hamanako
Surrounded by nature, Listel Hamanako offers not just comfortable rooms but also outdoor activities, such as tennis and water sports, making it ideal for families and active travelers.
15. The Hamanako
This resort hotel by Lake Hamana offers a relaxing stay with options for entertainment and dining. The sunset views over the lake from the rooms are particularly popular with guests.
In Hamamatsu, the accommodation options are as varied as the city itself, ranging from high-end to budget-friendly, and from modern comfort to traditional charm. Each place offers its own unique set of amenities, and most are conveniently located to allow easy access to the city’s main attractions. Whether you are visiting for business or pleasure, staying in the bustling city center or by the calming waters of Lake Hamana, Hamamatsu has a place that can become your home away from home.
source: kyde & eric on YouTube
Hamamatsu 3-4 Days Travel Itinerary
Crafting a 3-4 day itinerary for Hamamatsu will allow you to explore a blend of its historical sites, natural beauty, cultural experiences, and culinary delights. Here’s a detailed plan to help you make the most of your visit:
Day 1: Arrival and Exploration of Central Hamamatsu
- Arrival in Hamamatsu
- Arrive at Hamamatsu Station, which is accessible via the Tokaido Shinkansen or local trains.
- Check into your hotel and freshen up.
- Breakfast at a Local Café
- Start your day with a Japanese-style breakfast at a local café near the station.
- Hamamatsu Castle Park
- Begin sightseeing at Hamamatsu Castle, the former residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu. Explore the castle’s museum and the surrounding park.
- Lunch at a Local Unagi Restaurant
- Savor Hamamatsu’s famous unagi (eel) for lunch, grilled to perfection.
- Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments
- Spend the early afternoon at the museum, discovering musical instruments from around the world and enjoying interactive exhibits.
- Walk Along the May One Street
- Enjoy a leisurely walk and some shopping along this popular street with various boutiques and local shops.
- Dinner at an Izakaya
- Experience Japanese pub culture and local cuisine at an izakaya in the downtown area.
- Night Walk in the City
- Take an evening stroll around the city, maybe catching a local event or performance.
Day 2: Lake Hamana and Surrounding Attractions
- Breakfast at Hotel
- Enjoy a hearty breakfast at your hotel or a local bakery.
- Lake Hamana
- Head to Lake Hamana, a scenic brackish lagoon. Consider renting a bike to cycle around the area or take a leisurely boat cruise on the lake.
- Lunch by the Lake
- Have lunch at a lakeside restaurant, possibly trying out the local seafood dishes like Hamana-ko eel or wild duck.
- Hamamatsu Flower Park
- After lunch, visit Hamamatsu Flower Park, a botanical garden with a vast array of flowers and plants.
- Ryotanji Temple
- Make a trip to Ryotanji Temple in Iwata, a short drive or train ride away, to see this beautiful Zen temple.
- Dinner with a View
- Choose a restaurant with views of Lake Hamana and enjoy a relaxed meal.
- Onsen Experience
- End your day with a soothing soak at an onsen resort near Lake Hamana.
Day 3: Southern Hamamatsu and Cultural Experiences
- Breakfast at Accommodation or Local Café
- Enjoy a local or Western breakfast to start your day.
- Nakatajima Sand Dunes
- Visit the vast Nakatajima Sand Dunes in the morning to enjoy the landscape and the sea breeze.
- Lunch in the South
- Try some local dishes such as Hamamatsu Gyoza for lunch in the southern part of the city.
- Air Park – JASDF Hamamatsu Air Base
- Spend your afternoon at the Air Park, where you can learn about the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and see various aircraft.
- Shopping at Aeon Mall
- Indulge in some shopping at one of Hamamatsu’s large shopping malls.
- Dinner at a Kaiten Sushi Restaurant
- Experience a dinner at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant, where you can try a variety of sushi.
Day 4: Departure or Extended Exploration
Option 1: Departure Day
- Breakfast and Souvenir Shopping
- Enjoy a final breakfast and pick up some local souvenirs like Hamamatsu’s famous Gyoza, eel products, or musical instrument-related goods.
- Check out of your hotel and make your way to Hamamatsu Station for your departure.
Option 2: Extended Exploration
- Fruit Picking
- If it’s the right season, go fruit picking in the morning at a local farm.
- Tenryu River Cruise
- Take a cruise down Tenryu River, enjoying the natural scenery and learning about the local ecosystem.
- Lunch in a Riverside Restaurant
- Enjoy a lunch featuring local river fish and specialties.
- Craft Experience
- Spend the afternoon at a local workshop, trying your hand at traditional crafts such as pottery or instrument making.
- Return to Hamamatsu
- Spend your last evening in Hamamatsu, perhaps revisiting a favorite spot or trying out a new dining experience.
- Dinner at a Specialty Restaurant
- Conclude your trip with dinner at a restaurant specializing in a dish you haven’t tried yet, such as tempura or soba.
This itinerary balances the exploration of Hamamatsu’s rich cultural tapestry, natural beauty, and industrial achievements with ample time for relaxation and culinary indulgence, ensuring a comprehensive and memorable experience of this multifaceted city.
source: Samuel and Audrey on YouTube
Where To Visit After Your Trip To Hamamatsu?
After soaking up the charms of Hamamatsu, you might want to consider extending your adventure to explore more of Japan’s diverse regions. Each destination offers unique experiences that range from historical to natural wonders, culinary delights, and cultural treasures. Here is a curated selection of destinations you might consider visiting after Hamamatsu:
Just a short train ride away from Hamamatsu, Shizuoka City offers views of the iconic Mount Fuji, verdant tea plantations, and rich historical sites such as Kunozan Toshogu Shrine, the burial place of the first Tokugawa shogun. Don’t miss the chance to try some of Shizuoka’s famed green tea, visit the serene Miho no Matsubara pine grove, and explore the bustling Shizuoka fish market.
Heading west, Nagoya is a major urban center known for its automotive industry, especially its association with Toyota. Car enthusiasts can tour the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology. Nagoya Castle and Atsuta Shrine offer a glimpse into the city’s historical significance. The Osu Shopping District is perfect for picking up quirky souvenirs and trying street food, including Nagoya’s famous hitsumabushi (grilled eel on rice).
A bit further from Hamamatsu but well worth the journey, Kyoto is the heart of traditional Japan. With over a thousand years of history as the former imperial capital, it’s a treasure trove of culture with its numerous temples and shrines, including Kinkaku-ji (the Golden Pavilion), Fushimi Inari Taisha, and the historic district of Gion, where you may catch sight of a geisha. The city is also a culinary hub, with traditional kaiseki dining and matcha sweets.
Nara, less than two hours from Hamamatsu, is another former capital of Japan and a city steeped in history. It is famous for its friendly deer roaming freely in Nara Park, the imposing Todai-ji Temple housing a giant Buddha statue, and the charming lantern-lined streets of Naramachi. Nara is an excellent day trip or overnight stay for those interested in Japan’s ancient culture.
For nature lovers, the Izu Peninsula offers stunning coastal scenery, hot springs, and a more laid-back experience compared to the hustle of Japan’s cities. You can enjoy onsen towns like Atami or Ito, visit the Jogasaki Coast for its scenic trails, or relax on the beaches of Shimoda. Seafood is exceptionally fresh here, and the region is also known for its wasabi and citrus fruits.
Travelers willing to venture a bit further can find themselves in Kanazawa, a city on the Japan Sea coast known for its well-preserved Edo-era districts, art museums, and regional handicrafts. Kenrokuen Garden is considered one of Japan’s three most beautiful landscape gardens. Kanazawa is also the gateway to the Noto Peninsula, offering rugged coastlines and rural Japan’s slow life.
The Japanese Alps
Adventurous travelers can head towards the Japanese Alps, which offer stunning natural beauty and outdoor activities year-round. The cities of Matsumoto, Takayama, and the historic villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama with their traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses are particularly noteworthy. These areas provide opportunities for hiking in the summer and skiing or snowboarding in the winter.
Lastly, no visit to Japan might be considered complete without a few days in Tokyo, the dynamic capital. The fast-paced city is a contrast of ultra-modern and traditional, with neighborhoods ranging from the electronics district of Akihabara to the ancient Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa. Fashion, food, and pop culture are rampant in areas like Shibuya and Harajuku, making Tokyo a feast for the senses.
A city in Aichi Prefecture, Okazaki is renowned for being the birthplace of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate. The Okazaki Castle and the surrounding park are the city’s main attractions, particularly during the cherry blossom season. Also, Okazaki is famous for its fireworks and its production of hōchō (Japanese kitchen knives).
Situated in the mountainous part of Kanagawa Prefecture, Hakone is famed for its hot springs, outdoor onsens, and the picturesque Lake Ashi, with views of Mount Fuji. Visitors can enjoy the Hakone Open Air Museum, take a cruise on the pirate ship across Lake Ashi, or ride the Hakone Tozan Railway, Japan’s oldest mountain railway, for stunning views of the surrounding area.
Kobe, in Hyogo Prefecture, offers a cosmopolitan vibe with a mix of cultural influences due to its history as a port city. The city is known for its luxury beef, Kobe beef, and the scenic harbor area. Take a cable car up to Mount Rokko for panoramic views, visit the Earthquake Memorial Museum to learn about the 1995 Hanshin earthquake, and stroll through the exotic Chinatown.
Takamatsu and Naoshima
For a mix of modern art and traditional Japanese gardens, head to Takamatsu on Shikoku Island and visit Ritsurin Garden, one of the most beautiful gardens in Japan. A short ferry ride will take you to Naoshima, the ‘Art Island’, famed for its contemporary art museums, installations, and sculptures scattered across the island, including works by Yayoi Kusama and James Turrell.
Hiroshima and Miyajima
Hiroshima is a city that has risen from its tragic past and is now a place of peace and remembrance with the Peace Memorial Park and Museum. Just off the coast is the island of Miyajima, famous for the floating torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hiroshima is also known for its own style of okonomiyaki, a savory pancake that’s a must-try.
The Kii Peninsula
For those interested in spiritual journeys, the Kii Peninsula offers the sacred sites and pilgrimage routes in the Kii Mountain Range, which are part of the UNESCO World Heritage. The Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails lead to the Kumano Sanzan (the three grand shrines of Kumano), and the Ise Grand Shrine in Ise is the most sacred Shinto shrine in Japan.
Onsen Towns Like Kusatsu and Noboribetsu
Japan is dotted with onsen (hot spring) towns that offer relaxation and a peek into a quintessential Japanese experience. Kusatsu in Gunma Prefecture and Noboribetsu in Hokkaido are two of the most famous, with a variety of baths and ryokans (traditional inns) to choose from.
Fukuoka and Kyushu
Head down to Kyushu, Japan’s third-largest island, and explore Fukuoka, a city known for its vibrant food scene, including the famous Hakata ramen. Kyushu is also rich in natural beauty, from the hot springs of Beppu to the volcanoes of Kagoshima.
For a completely different experience, fly down to Okinawa Prefecture, where you’ll find a tropical climate, distinct Ryukyuan culture, beautiful beaches, and the former Ryukyu Kingdom’s historical sites. Okinawan cuisine, with its unique ingredients and flavors, is a highlight as well.
Head north to Japan’s second-largest island, Hokkaido, and explore its capital, Sapporo. Known for its snow festival, beer, and rich miso ramen, Sapporo offers a blend of urban life and nature. Nearby, you can visit Otaru, a canal town known for its glasswork and music boxes, or venture into the wilderness to experience Hokkaido’s pristine landscapes and national parks like Daisetsuzan.
Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture
As the largest city in the Tohoku region, Sendai is known as the “City of Trees.” It’s home to the beautiful Sendai Tanabata Festival in the summer and the Jozenji Street Jazz Festival in September. Nearby, you can explore Matsushima Bay, one of Japan’s three most scenic views, with hundreds of pine-clad islets.
For a journey into the arts and crafts of Japan, Ishikawa is exceptional. Kanazawa, the capital, is already mentioned, but the Noto Peninsula, with its rugged coastlines and traditional salt farms, and Kaga, with its famous onsen villages like Yamashiro and Yamanaka, offer deeper cultural immersion.
Besides views of Mount Fuji, Yamanashi is a haven for hikers and nature enthusiasts. The Fuji Five Lakes (Fujigoko) region provides numerous outdoor activities, and the area is also known for its wine production, offering vineyard tours and tastings.
Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture
Further inland, Matsumoto welcomes visitors with its majestic original castle, one of Japan’s national treasures. Surrounded by the Japan Alps, it’s a gateway to the mountains and a hub for local crafts, including Matsumoto-temari (handball craft) and soba noodles.
For something off the beaten path, Tottori presents the largest sand dunes in Japan and is part of the San’in Kaigan Geopark. The Tottori Sand Dunes are a natural wonder that feels more akin to a desert than traditional Japanese landscape.
At the western end of Honshu, Yamaguchi Prefecture is often overlooked but offers the picturesque Tsunoshima Bridge, the historical town of Hagi, and the stunning Motonosumi Inari Shrine with its 123 red torii gates leading down to the sea.
Down in the southern part of Kyushu, Kagoshima is dominated by the active volcano Sakurajima. The region is known for its distinct cuisine, hot springs, and the historic Sengan-en Garden with stunning views of the volcano.
A UNESCO World Natural Heritage site, Yakushima is an island off the south coast of Kyushi, famous for its ancient cedar forests, some of which are over a thousand years old. It’s a hiker’s paradise, with trails leading through mystical landscapes that inspired the Studio Ghibli film “Princess Mononoke.”
The Seto Inland Sea
Explore the tranquil beauty of the Seto Inland Sea and its art islands, including Naoshima and Teshima, well-known for their modern art museums and installations. The Shimanami Kaido cycling route over the inland sea’s islands offers breathtaking views and a unique way to experience the area.
Visit Kumamoto to see its impressive castle, Suizenji Jojuen Garden, and the nearby Aso Volcano. Kumamoto also offers some of the best horse sashimi in Japan, if you’re inclined to try more adventurous local delicacies.
Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture
Known as “Japan’s Science City,” Tsukuba hosts a plethora of research institutions and universities. The Tsukuba Space Center is a highlight for science enthusiasts. The nearby Mount Tsukuba is famous for its twin peaks and is considered one of Japan’s most revered mountains.
Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture
A small city in the mountains, Chichibu is less than two hours from Tokyo but feels worlds apart. It’s famous for its annual night festival in December, one of Japan’s three great float festivals, and is also a great spot for hiking and visiting shrines.
Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture
Japan’s second-largest city, located just south of Tokyo, Yokohama has a distinct international feel with its Chinatown—the largest in Japan—and beautiful harbor area. The Cup Noodles Museum and the landmark Yokohama Marine Tower offer unique urban experiences.
Home to the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Nikko, with its lavish Toshogu Shrine dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu, and the charming town of Ashikaga, which hosts one of Japan’s oldest schools and the fantastic Ashikaga Flower Park.
Gifu offers a blend of historic charm and natural beauty. The traditional thatched houses of Shirakawa-go are a UNESCO World Heritage site. Gifu City’s cormorant fishing on the Nagara River is an ancient practice that you can still observe today.
The Sanriku Coast
Stretching along the Pacific Ocean in the Tohoku region, the Sanriku Coast is known for its rugged cliffs, diverse marine life, and recovery since the 2011 tsunami. The area is a testament to the resilience of nature and human communities.
Wakayama City, Wakayama Prefecture
Wakayama is the gateway to the sacred Koyasan (Mount Koya) area, the center of Shingon Buddhism. Stay in temple lodgings and experience the life of Buddhist monks. Wakayama Castle and the local ramen are other highlights.
At the northern tip of Honshu, Aomori is famous for the Nebuta Festival in summer, with its gigantic illuminated floats. The prefecture also offers the mystical Hirosaki Castle and the Shirakami-Sanchi UNESCO World Heritage site with extensive beech forests.
On the island of Shikoku, Kochi is renowned for its laid-back atmosphere, the scenic Shimanto River, and the Sunday Market – Japan’s longest-running outdoor market. Kochi Castle, one of Japan’s remaining original castles, offers views over the city.
Beppu, Oita Prefecture
Beppu, on Kyushu island, is one of Japan’s most famous hot spring resorts. With numerous geothermal hot spots, ‘hells’ (colorful thermal ponds), and sand baths, it offers a unique onsen experience.
Kagawa, also on Shikoku, is known as the udon prefecture. Takamatsu is the gateway to exploring the art islands in the Seto Inland Sea and Ritsurin Garden, a masterpiece of Japanese landscape gardening.
Saga on Kyushu is a quiet prefecture with a rich ceramic history. Places like Arita and Imari are famous for porcelain. The Saga International Balloon Fiesta, with colorful hot air balloons, is a sight to behold.
Okinawa’s Outer Islands
Beyond mainland Okinawa, the outer islands, like Ishigaki, Miyako, and the Yaeyama Islands, offer some of Japan’s best beaches, diving spots, and subtropical paradises.
Discover the rural beauty of Iwate in the Tohoku region. Visit Morioka, famous for its three great noodles: reimen, jajamen, and wanko soba. Explore the Ryusendo Cave, one of Japan’s three great limestone caves, or hike the trails of the Hachimantai mountains.
Nagasaki, Nagasaki Prefecture
Nagasaki is a city steeped in international history. It has a unique heritage influenced by Portuguese, Dutch, and Chinese cultures. Visit Dejima, the Atomic Bomb Museum, and the Peace Park. Take a day trip to Gunkanjima (Hashima Island), once a densely populated mining island, now an abandoned site with haunting ruins.
Shimane lies along the Sea of Japan coast and is home to Izumo Taisha, one of Japan’s oldest and most significant Shinto shrines. The capital, Matsue, is known as the “City of Water,” featuring a moat-encircled castle and traditional tea houses.
Niigata is synonymous with quality rice and sake. It also offers skiing opportunities in the mountains and beautiful coastal scenery. Sado Island, part of Niigata, has a rich cultural landscape, including the unique Tarai-bune (tub boats) and remnants of its gold-mining past.
Besides being home to Hamamatsu, Shizuoka boasts views of Mount Fuji, the beautiful Izu Peninsula with its hot springs and coastline, and the scenic town of Shuzenji.
Oita is another onsen-rich prefecture, known for the hot springs of Beppu as well as the less touristy Yufuin. It also hosts an annual international wheelchair marathon, showcasing inclusivity and community spirit.
In the Chubu region, Toyama offers stunning Alpine vistas. The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route features the famous snow corridor with walls of snow towering over the road.
Mie is home to Ise Jingu, the most sacred Shinto shrine in Japan. Visit the spiritual Toba area and Mikimoto Pearl Island, where cultured pearls were first created.
The Ogasawara Islands
These remote islands, also known as the Bonin Islands, are a UNESCO World Heritage site and are only accessible by a 24-hour ferry ride from Tokyo. They offer unique wildlife and a subtropical environment.
The Japan Alps
Covering the prefectures of Nagano, Gifu, and Toyama, the Japan Alps offer premier hiking in summer and skiing in winter. The alpine city of Matsumoto and the historic town of Takayama serve as excellent bases for exploration.
The Amami Islands
Located between Kyushu and Okinawa, the Amami Islands are known for their unique culture, dialects, and subtropical rainforests. Amami Oshima is famous for its traditional Oshima Tsumugi silk weaving.
Already mentioned for its sand dunes, Tottori also offers the charming city of Kurayoshi with its white-walled storehouses and Misasa Onsen, known for its radium-rich waters said to have healing properties.
Yamanouchi, Nagano Prefecture
Yamanouchi is home to the snow monkeys of Jigokudani Monkey Park, where you can see Japanese macaques bathing in hot springs. It’s also a gateway to Shiga Kogen, one of Japan’s largest ski areas.
Lake Towada and Oirase Stream
In Aomori Prefecture, the Towada-Hachimantai National Park features the stunning Lake Towada and the picturesque Oirase Stream, with several waterfalls and a beautiful walking trail alongside.
Each of these destinations offers a different facet of Japan, allowing you to build a multi-layered picture of the country. Whether you’re looking for more historical insights, cultural exchanges, scenic beauty, or urban excitement, there’s a nearby locale that can offer an enriching continuation from your trip to Hamamatsu. Remember to check for regional events and festivals that might coincide with your visit to add an extra layer of unique experience to your journey.
Hamamatsu Travel Guide: Final Thoughts
Hamamatsu, nestled in the western part of Shizuoka Prefecture in Japan, is a city that offers an intriguing blend of technological advancement, rich cultural heritage, and natural beauty. As we come to the end of this travel guide, let’s encapsulate the essence of Hamamatsu, drawing upon its many facets to leave potential visitors with a comprehensive picture.
Technological Prowess: Hamamatsu is often dubbed the ‘City of Music and Motorcycles,’ a testament to its reputation as a hub for industries like Yamaha and Suzuki. Its technologically rich landscape offers not just insight into Japan’s manufacturing prowess but also provides an immersive experience with museums and factory tours that detail the journey from conception to final product.
Cultural Vibrancy: The city’s cultural tapestry is vividly colored by its history and traditions. The Hamamatsu Festival, with its majestic kite battles and enchanting evening lanterns, captures the heart of its cultural celebrations. The city’s respect for art is also apparent in the Museum of Musical Instruments, which is not just a display of artifacts but a narration of the global language of music.
Natural Splendor: Hamamatsu’s natural offerings are diverse, ranging from the serene Nakatajima Sand Dunes to the lush landscapes of Lake Hamana. The seasonal transformations bring about a spectacular change in scenery, making it an all-year-round destination for nature lovers.
Culinary Delights: Food in Hamamatsu is a delightful journey through taste. The region’s gourmandize on unagi (eel), which is served in a variety of ways, from the classic hitsumabushi to innovative modern recipes. The city also prides itself on its succulent Hamamatsu gyoza and a myriad of other local specialties that can satiate any palate.
Accommodations: Whether you’re seeking the luxury of a high-end hotel, the traditional charm of a ryokan, or the budget-friendly coziness of guesthouses and hostels, Hamamatsu’s accommodations offer the warmth of hospitality that Japan is renowned for.
Connectivity: Hamamatsu’s location is strategically beneficial. Positioned midway between Tokyo and Osaka, it serves as an excellent starting point for further explorations into the heartland of Japan. Its connectivity through the Shinkansen (bullet train) and local transportation options makes it both an accessible and convenient destination.
Final Reflections: As you contemplate the end of your stay in Hamamatsu, you carry with you the melodies of the city’s musical heritage, the images of fluttering kites against the blue sky, the taste of savory eel on your tongue, and the serenity of its natural vistas. It’s a place where every sunset by the lake can be different from the last, and the streets buzz with a fusion of the past and the future.
Hamamatsu encapsulates the heart of a Japan that is often overshadowed by the prominence of its larger urban counterparts. It offers a unique experience, allowing visitors to delve into a side of Japan that is authentic, vibrant, and inviting. The city, with its myriad attractions and hidden gems, beckons travelers to not only pass through but to pause and explore, promising that each visit can unfold a new chapter in their travel diary.
When you leave Hamamatsu, you leave with a sense of fulfillment and the knowledge that in this city, tradition harmonizes with innovation, nature converses with urbanity, and every encounter is an invitation to return. Hamamatsu is not just a stopover; it’s a destination in its own right, offering a tapestry of experiences that will linger in your memories long after you’ve departed its welcoming embrace.