Eleven miles in circumference, but only 25 feet deep at the most, the proximity of Lake Suwa to surrounding hot springs, and the fine view across the Lake to Mount Fuji make it a popular tourist destination. The fame of the lake is due to the fact that it ices over every year from December to March. Expansion of the ice causes it to crack, although local tradition has it that the cracking is due to the ‘gods’ walking on it. In either case, the cracking is viewed as a sign that the ice is safe to walk on, and many a traveler in the past was able to use this opportunity for a short cut to the Koshu-kaido.
The lake has always been well stocked with fish, especially carp, and so it is a popular spot for anglers. The traditional method of fishing, however, was to lower nets through holes cut into the ice in winter. Bamboo poles would then be used to hook the nets, and drag them through the water from one hole to another.