I visited Lake Biwa on the same day as I visited Mt Hiei as it was convenient to get to Lake Biwa from Mt Hiei, by taking the Sakamoto Cable car to the Shiga side to the base of the mountain to Sakamoto Station. This two-kilometres, 11-minute 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 to Lake Biwa was very pleasant as I came upon some beautiful spots.
My visit here was very brief. My intention was to capture the sunset at the Biwako Hana Funsui (Lake Biwa Flower Fountain) and relax after my long day of mountain climbing. The Lake Biwa 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 meters.
Lake Biwa itself 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.
However, if you can fit in a longer time at Lake Biwa, 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 Lake Biwa and many beach activities such as zip line or water sliding and the are many popular holiday resorts here which you can stay at too.
There are historic sites such as the Enryaku-ji Temple in Mount Hiei and Hikone Castle.
Getting 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.