Enjoy a fun-filled day of activities in the great outdoors in Gunma
Last updated: May 06, 2022
With an impressive modern dam and sweeping views of mountain and lake scenery, Yamba Dam and its surrounds make for an enjoyable day for the whole family. Combine outdoor activities and educational experiences to make the most of your day. Take an amphibious vehicle tour of Lake Yamba-Agatsuma, learn about the dam construction and even take a leap, if you are feeling brave. Kawarayu Onsen is also nearby, and a relaxing bath in this hot spring town is one of the best ways to recuperate after an active day outside.
Yamba Dam was built in the middle basin of the Agatsuma River to provide water for irrigation, and to prevent flooding. This modern marvel is a concrete gravity dam—a structure that relies on the weight of its materials to withstand the pressure of the water it holds—and towers to a height of 116 meters. It can store nearly 108 million cubic meters of water, and began operation in 2019.
The landscapes surrounding the dam are beautiful throughout the year, especially in autumn, when the nearby mountains and Agatsumakyo Gorge are covered in vibrant foliage. The shores of the dam’s artificial Lake Yamba-Agatsuma are home to facilities that offer visitors the chance to enjoy a wide range of fun and exciting activities that capitalize on the area’s natural beauty.
Enjoy a stroll around Lake Yamba-Agatsuma to soak in the scenery. From the top of the dam, you can see the inspiring scale of the project, and the awe-inspiring rushing water down below. Stop by the on-site Yamba Museum to learn more about the dam’s construction through models and images, with some information in English. Thrillseekers can get a new perspective of the dam and lake by bungee jumping from Yamba Bridge. This 45-meter-plunge isn’t for the faint of heart, but those who would rather watch can enjoy the view from nearby viewing platforms. Since the bungee experience is currently operating for a limited period of time and may be canceled in bad weather, check the company website before you go. A less heart pounding option is to join a Yamba Duck Tour aboard an amphibious vehicle that can drive right into the waters of Lake Yamba-Agatsuma. There are more activities as well as relaxation options, at the nearby Kawarayu Onsen.
Yamba Tenmei Mudflow Museum opened in 2021 and gives fascinating insights into daily life during the Edo period, and the awesome power of nature. In 1783, the Tenmei Eruption of Mt. Asama buried local villages in mud. Learn about the event through exhibits, archeological finds from the buried villages, and a powerful film recreation of the eruption and aftermath. Some exhibits have QR codes to read information in English. Afterward, enjoy a drink or snack with a view of the lake at Yamba Tea House. Visit Yamba Furusato-kan Roadside Station for a bite to eat and to purchase local produce and specialties. You can try meals like “damyaki”, a delicious savory pancake in the shape of a dam, made with local vegetables.
You can try meals like "damyaki," a delicious pancake which comes in a savory style made with local cabbage, and a sweet style made with sweet bean paste.
Kawarayu Onsen is a hot spring resort with over 800 years of history. It is said to have been discovered by Minamoto no Yoritomo, the first shogun of the Kamakura period (1185–1333), while he was hunting. The village and its facilities moved to their current location in 2014 due to the construction of the Yamba Dam. The renewed Kawarayu Onsen is a one-stop destination for fun, rest and relaxation.
Kawarayu Outdoor Leisure Center NOA is a facility that offers a host of outdoor activities. Visitors can enjoy kayaking on Lake Yamba-Agatsuma, as well as camping along the banks of the Agatsuma River. There is an all-inclusive barbecue area, with all-weather cooking areas, where you can enjoy cooking without the need to bring any equipment. There’s also a cafe where you can enjoy dishes made from local ingredients, and a hot spring open to day visitors.
Along with its new location, Kawarayu Onsen has renovated its public bath, Oyu, which is perfect for day visitors to enjoy a relaxing soak. This elegant wooden building has both indoor and outdoor baths, the waters of which are said to help relieve joint pain and rheumatism. Oyu also hosts Kawarayu Onsen’s annual Yukake Festival. This unique event is held early in the morning on January 20, and sees scantily clad men dousing each other with steaming buckets of hot spring water. Stay overnight at one of Kawarayu’s traditional inns to make the most of your visit, before heading out on your next Gunma adventure.