The under-visited beach at Shirahama (白浜) is a real find for open-water swimmers and beach bums due to its clear-blue water, shallow entry and breathtaking mountain backdrop, but is only recommended during summer when the crispness has left the air. Rent paddleboats at the nearby boathouse from spring to autumn. Romantic sunset strolls are highly recommended any time of year: on the lake's eastern shore, you'll find Tazawa-ko's famed bronze statue of the legendary beauty Tatsuko.

A 20km road wraps around the lake, perfect for a slow drive or vigorous cycle – bike rentals are available in the small village of Tazawa Kohan (¥400 per hour from). Sightseeing buses depart Tazawa-ko Station and loop around the lake, stopping for 15 minutes to admire the statue of Tatsuko. Scenic boat rides are available from Shirahama (¥1200, 40 minutes, every two hours May to October).