Lake Biwa and What You Need to Know

Lake Biwa | An Introduction

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

Lake Biwa is located in Shiga Prefecture, on the northeast of Kyoto. 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

How to get to Lake Biwa

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.

View of Lake Biwa from the cable car ride down to Sakamoto
View of Lake Biwa from the cable car ride down to Sakamoto | Image: georgina_daniel

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 walk from Sakamoto Station through the town of Sakamoto
Some views along our walk from Sakamoto Station to Biwako | Image: georgina_daniel

Lake Biwa Flower Fountain

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.

Lake Biwa Flower Fountain, Shiga Prefecture
Biwako Flower Fountain, Shiga Prefecture Image: georgina_daniel
The Flower Fountain streams up high into air at 40 metres.
Biwako Flower Fountain streams up high into air at 40 metres.| Image: georgina_daniel

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.

Activities at Lake Biwa

Although I spent only a couple of hours here, Lake Biwa is a destination that warrants at least half a day. If you can fit in a longer time, you will be pleasantly surprised at the various ways to enjoy this Lake. As the largest freshwater lake in Japan in the Shiga Prefecture, you can enjoy cruises to the southern end of the Lake. 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.

A Cruise Boat in the Distance at Lake Biwa, Shiga Prefecture
A Cruise Boat in the Distance at Lake Biwa, Shiga Prefecture | Image: georgina_daniel
A cruise boat taking-off to the southern end of the Lake
A cruise boat taking-off to the southern end of Lake Biwa | Image: georgina_daniel

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

Enryakuji Temple at Mount Hiei
Enryakuji Temple and buildings in Mount Hiei, Kyoto
Like other temples, there are shops for souvenirs in Mount Hiei
As with any visits to temples, you would always find shops for souvenirs, light refreshments and incense. You will find that Mount Hiei offer a great selection of these.
Buildings and Temples dotted around the forest in Mount Hiei
Buildings and Temples dotted around the forest in Mount Hiei. Sometimes to pray and sometimes a place to meditate.

Travel tips and Useful information

4 ways to travel to Lake Biwa

Otsu:

From Kyoto station take the JR Biwako line (about 10 min), exit at Hama-Otsu station (about 20 minutes from Sanjo-Keihan railway station)

Enryakuji Temple:

From Otsu Keihanzeze station, take the Keihan line, for Sakamoto. From Sakamoto, take the cable car to the temple.

Hikone: 

From Kyoto to Hikone, it is about 50 minutes journey and is the fastest.

If you have the JR Pass, you can take the Shinkansen to Maibara, about 20 minutes journey and then back to Hikone by JR Biwako which is about 5 minutes.

Omihachiman:

Take the JR Biwako line from Kyoto which is about 35 minutes journey.

My Conclusion

This is a destination that warrants more than a couple of hours. If you are in Kyoto and have the time, visit this lake which is the largest freshwater lake in Japan. For a whole day experience, you can also explore the surrounding areas. For ideas and inspiration to experience Lake Biwa and Kyoto, head over to “More than one way to experience Kyoto”

Ask me any questions you may have regarding booking your trip to Japan. You may wish to take a look at the 6-step guidelines to a stress free vacation and a full guide to resources for a memorable experience.

6 steps to stress free vacation
Resources

You may like to read more on Japan also

Best of Kyoto
Nara in one day
Hiroshima + Miyajima
Himeji in a day

Is this post valuable to you in planning your visits to Lake Biwa? If so please let me know in comments below or via Contact Form, I would love to hear from you.

I wish you a splendid visit to Lake Biwa!

February 2021, Update


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Lake Biwa Kyoto
Lake Biwa Kyoto
Lake Biwa Kyoto

An easy guide to an evening of colours and sunset at the largest freshwater lake in Japan - also home to one of the largest fountains in the world. via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/An easy guide to an evening of colours and sunset at the largest freshwater lake in Japan - also home to one of the largest fountains in the world. via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/
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