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Kanna Lake: Vacation for a Relaxing Escape in Gunma

Have you ever just opened Google Map, pick a location and go there? That’s kind of what I did with this trip, and I came back with amazing stories and photographs.

Kanna Lake is a scenic area located in-between Fujioka city of the Gunma Prefecture and Kamikawa of the Saitama Prefecture. It’s very far from civilization, and if you do not have a car, you would need to take a bus which was never on time. This town is known for its therapeutic outdoor scenic hot springs and relaxing outdoor activities around the Kanna Lake, such as paddle boating, hiking, fishing and more.


THE HOTEL

We stayed in the Japanese-style hotel or Ryokan (旅館) called Sensaian Sansui Hotel (茜彩庵 山水) – which is only 3-minute walk to the Kanna Lake.


The level of hospitality of this hotel is S-class. As we walked inside, we were greeted by a very nice lady who walked us to the waiting area which has a large window displaying the view of Kanna Lake on a sunny day. Later, she served each of us a cup of tea and a piece of cheesecake. I didn’t expect the cheesecake to be so delicious, but it was amazing. Arguably the best food I had in the entire trip!

Our room was a Japanese-style room with tatami (畳) and futon (布団) instead of beds. It has a large window just like the one in the waiting area displaying the view of Kanna Lake – they really took full advantage of their location. Two chairs and a side table right in front of the window. I knew immediately that I’m going to spend my morning sipping coffee on one of those chairs tomorrow. A bit cliché but it’s there for that very reason!

The hotel has a total of 3 different hot spring facilities (1) public (2) private (3) luxurious and private. The lady showed us to the amazingly luxurious one, and we booked that room for 1 hour. To describe it, the room has a sofa in the middle, hot tea ready-to-go on a coffee table, comfortable chairs next to the hot spring, and finally, the hot spring bath. Next level relaxing I could just evaporate into the air.

And as you can expect from a hotel with great hospitality and facility, the breakfast and dinner are very delicious and well-prepared. If you would like to visit this hotel, I highly recommend that you select a plan with breakfast and dinner included because there are not many restaurants in the area.

THE LAKE

I woke up at 6:30AM on the last day of the trip to rent a paddling boat. Being in the middle of the lake early in the morning – the feeling was indescribable. There was nobody else around and by the time I arrived the middle of the lake, it was a whole new level of isolation and serenity. Nothing but the sound of the wave lightly crashing on the boat. I was just puddling around back and forth. But if you enjoy hiking, you can rent the boat and paddle from shore to shore and do sightseeing around Hominoyama.

THE DAM

Roughly 15-minute walk from the hotel is Shimokubo Dam known for its length and size among other dams in Japan. It’s located right between the border of Saitama and Gunma Prefecture.

It’s also known for its ghost rumor of many origins including (1) there was a serial killer in town by the name of Arai who terrorized the area many years ago; (2) the building of Shimokubo Dam caused many people in the past to lose their home and the spirit of the ancestors were roaming around the dam; (3) the dam, due to its height, has become a famous spot for people committing suicide.


In fact, these rumors have attracted many dark tourists to come and visit Shimokubo Dam at night (hoping to see or hear something). These unwelcome visits have caused troubles to the dam management staff consistently. So much so that they needed to take action. You wouldn’t believe what their solution was!


Back story: While my partner and I were walking around the dam, we looked down and saw a fight. Yep, an actual fight like 2 people punching, kicking and strangling one another with a crowd surrounding and watching them. But as we looked carefully, it was not a fight at all. It was actually a filming of what seemed to be a local superhero show (in a town like this?).

Anyway, we walked away and didn’t think much of it. Until later in the day, I decided to search on Google about a local superhero show related to Kamikawa, Gunma. What I found was unbelievable. It turned out this superhero show is called the Dam Saver or Dam Saber (ダムセイバー), I’m not 100% sure. But they have a YouTube channel, a very catchy official theme song, and an ongoing series which was mind-blowing for me. Granted the production quality is beyond anyone’s imagination (LOL).

Anyway, back to the story of the haunted dam. The dam management staff were having trouble with dark tourist wondering around top of the dam late at night. In the end, their solution was to collaborate with the Kamikawa’s local superheroes in order to “cast away evil spirit.” The dam management installed a speaker near the dam entrance, which will be automatically triggered if someone were to walk near the area after 9:00PM. Once triggered, it’ll play the Dam Saber’s superhero theme song out loud with the purpose of ruining the spooky atmosphere that dark tourists desperately seek for (LOL). Genius.


Watch my video about this whole thing on YouTube if you’re interested to see everything in detail.


FINAL THOUGHTS

On the surface, there is nothing about Kamikawa and Kanna Lake that screams excitement. Due to the invention of the Internet and smart phones, people nowadays know almost exactly what they are going to see even before the trip itself. But those are only true for places that have been thoroughly discovered and promoted.


There are still many locations in Japan which haven’t been discovered. And it’s exactly a random trip like this one that gave me the precious taste of traveling and discovering unimaginable things just like the old time (a.k.a. a dam management from a far countryside town using a superhero theme song to cast away a ghost rumor and unwelcome visitors).


This is not something you will ever find from searching or planning. This type of experience and story only come from stepping into a lesser-known land.

 
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