While full-on swimming in lakes and rivers is not particularly common in Japan, you will often see people grilling along and wading in the typically shallow waters of rivers. Matsumoto and the surrounding areas have their fair share of waterways that people are allowed to enter, but it’s a good idea to check ahead of time since there are areas that can be dangerous or off limits. Check out the places below and find ways to beat the heat.
The Susuki River
A popular spot for cherry blossom viewing, the Susuki River is lined with well maintained embankments where people can grill, walk their dogs, or just enjoy the river as it flows by. The river is fairly shallow and certain areas of the river are easy to wade into, with steps leading down to the water.
Norikura Kogen (Highlands)
Far on the west side of the city rises Norikura. Here, you can get wet with river climbing (shower climbing) or just enjoy the views of the picturesque ponds. In the early summer, you can even enjoy Norikura’s very own snow walls.
There is also a campground where you can fish and kayak (reservations required). Find out more about camping options on Norikura’s official site (machine translation).
Southwest of the city center, the river near Gofukuji Temple is shallow and ideal for wading. The temple itself is located at 2573 Uchida, Matsumoto, Nagano 399-0023, and it’s best to head there by car.
There are numerous trails to enjoy walks along the Azusa River and streams flowing from natural springs; take in the brilliant blue and green hues of the water. Since Kamikochi is located in a national park, you should not swim or fish there (some fishing areas are available outside of the park at Sawando and the campground Takasome in Nagawa). The high altitude treats you to cooler temperatures and less humidity.
Azumino offers activities like rafting and simple boat tours on different parts of the Azusa and Hotaka Rivers. You can go wading in parts of the Karasu River in the Prefectural Karasugawa Valley Green (Waterfront Area) located at 26 Horiganekarasugawa, Azumino, Nagano 399-8211.
Lake Kizaki, Omachi Town
Located at the foot of the Japan Alps, Lake Kizaki is an unassuming lake that offers a variety of activities include rafting, kayaking, SUP, and other water activities.
With lakes like Lake Aoki, and rivers, Hakuba is also a great place for rafting, SUP, canyoning, and other water activities.