Active vacationing at Japan's largest lake
Lake Biwa is Japan's largest lake. With activities including canoeing, cat-viewing and even an aquarium, the area is popular with visitors of all ages.
- Okishima, a small lake island also known as the "Town of Cats"
- Takei Island, which appears to change shape depending on the angle
- Try the Setashijimi or seta clam, which are visible in the lake waters
How to Get There
Lake Biwa is easily accessed from Kyoto. The JR Tokaido Line from Kyoto to Otsu takes just 10 minutes.
Island hopping and cruising
Cat lovers shouldn't miss Okishima, the only inhabited island in the lake. Most locals are involved in fishing, which might explain the many cats who enjoy the spoils of the fishing industry.
Ferries depart from Horikiri Port. Biwako Cruise offers several courses around the south end of the lake. Michigan Cruise is a grand paddle steamer offering cruises with food and entertainment. The smaller, sleeker South Lake Cruise ship offers shorter courses. Both depart from Otsu Port.
Camping and glamping
Camping at Okubiwako Campground at the north end of the lake is a relaxing way to experience Shiga Prefecture's natural beauty. You can rent tents or try “glamping” in simple cottages furnished with all the necessary amenities.
The campground is close to fishing and swimming areas. Access to the grounds is a 30-minute walk from Nagahara Station. You can rent bicycles from the station to get around for 500 yen per day.
Out on the water
While swimming is popular around the lake, you can hire canoes and kayaks, try stand up paddle boarding, learn to sail or windsurf on the lake—all at BSC Watersports Centre in Otsu City. They also run ski camps for children, in the winter months.
See the lake up close
Lake Biwa is known for its rare and varied wildlife, including 62 endemic species. Spend a few hours at the Biwa Lake Museum, perfect for families and on rainy days. Enter the tunnel aquarium to experience marine life while remaining dry.