Lake Biwa and What You Need to Know


This article about Lake Biwa and What You Need to Know was last updated on October 20, 2022

Enjoy an evening of colours and sunset at one of the largest water fountains in the world at Lake Biwa.

Lake Biwa is located in Shiga Prefecture, on the northeast of Kyoto. It is believed that Lake Biwa is one of the oldest lakes, formed about four million years ago.

Lake Biwa is the largest freshwater lake in Japan and is known for its biodiversity. This large lake is home to an array of endemic species, from fish to birds.

I visited this Lake on the same day I visited Mt Hiei. It was convenient to do so from Mt Hiei by taking the Sakamoto Cable car.

Cycle route around Lake Biwa – Google maps

Lake Biwa is not very far from the humdrum of Kyoto city and makes a fabulous getaway to discover the quiet natural surroundings that the region offers.

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Getting to Lake Biwa via Sakamoto Cable Car took us to the Shiga side of the base of Mt Hiei, to Sakamoto Station. The track downhill was two-kilometres and took 11 minutes. The journey proved to be well-worth the money as it offered an awesome view directly over Lake Biwa and an opportunity to stroll through the town of Sakamoto.

My walk from Sakamoto Station through the town of Sakamoto was quiet and pleasant. There were a number of beautiful spots that offered photo opportunities.


The Flower Fountain is one of the world’s largest fountain which is about 400 meters long horizontally and it streams high into the air at 40 metres.

This is by far one of the most beautiful attraction here which you must not miss if you are in this area. With the sun setting in the horizon, the changing colours of the Fountain and the cruise ships sailing in the distance makes this a memorable experience. It certainly was for me because I needed to just relax for a while and take in the atmosphere before heading back home.

As the largest freshwater lake in Japan, it is a breeding ground for freshwater fish such as trout and is home to at least 46 native species and sub-species in the Lake. It serves as a reservoir to Kyoto and Otsu and supplies 15 million residents with drinking water in the Kansai region.

My visit here was very brief but I did fulfil my intention to capture the sunset and relax after my long day of mountain exploring.


Although I spent only a couple of hours here, Lake Biwa is a destination that warrants at least half a day. It would be great if you can fit for a longer duration. You shall be pleasantly surprised at the various ways to enjoy this beautiful lake.

At Lake Biwa, you can enjoy cruises to the southern end of Lake Biwa. There are many beach activities such as zip line or water sliding. You will also find that the area offer many popular holiday resorts which you can stay at.

Omimaiko Beach, located on the west side of Lake Biwa is a popular beach spot with white sand and groves of shady pines. The beach is an easily reached getaway from Kyoto — take the JR Konsei Line to Omi-Maiko Station, a five minute journey.

The lake has a wide variety of accommodations, ranging from luxury resorts to budget-friendly hostels. Many hotels offer direct views over the lake. Hot springs baths are also available.

There are historic sites such as the Enryaku-ji Temple in Mount Hiei and Hikone Castle.

Read: Mountain Hiei — Sacred Mountain in Kyoto


From Kyoto station take the JR Tokaido Main Line Biwako line to Otsu Station. Otsu is located at the southern tip of Lake Biwa and the journey time is 10 minutes.

You can continue on with the journey to Hakone Station. Hakone Station is located on the east side of Lake Biwa.

finally …

I must admit that this is a destination that warrants more than a couple of hours. If you are in Kyoto and have the time, visit Lake Biwa. For a whole day experience, you can also explore the surrounding areas.

I wish you a splendid visit to Lake Biwa!

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