Popular for camping, swimming and barbeques, Akigawa Valley has some gorgeous river gorge spots. Set up for the day with your own private patch of riverbank and enjoy some first-class rock-jumping. What’s more, you can warm up afterwards with birdsong in a pine forest-top onsen.
If you are looking for a mountain lake with a local feeling you may want to try Lake Suwa in the Kiso Mountains, Nagano Prefecture. If you also want to swim in it we should warn you that the water is green with algae and may not be safe, but it’s not too cold in the summer.
Of course, for most people no visit to Japan is complete without Kyoto, but give it a couple of days of temples and shrines and you might want a break. Try something different with this beautiful stretch of blue river, a short stonesthrow from the bamboo grove at Arashiyama.