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Marvel At The Wonders Of Lake Biwa While On A Bike


Japan’s largest lake, Lake Biwa, is not only known for its sparkling waters and surrounding greens but it also provides one of the country’s most scenic cycling routes called Biwaichi or the Lake Biwa Cycling Loop.




Similar to other popular cycling routes like Shimanami Kaido or Kasumigaura, Biwaichi (located in the Shiga Prefecture) has been developed further with road markings to be friendlier to cyclists on either guided or solo tours. It’s also surrounded by many pitstops in various locations that give a taste of what the Kansai region has to offer. Ready to take the tour? Read this first. 


Which route should you follow? 


You can definitely choose your own starting point when navigating the Lake Biwa Cycling Loop as it has access from either trains or by car from north, south, east, and west directions. Some cyclists take up to three days to finish the entire route around the North and South Basin (with Otsu and Hikone as the starting points), while some shorten their trips to one or two days by taking the shortcut via the Biwako Ohashi Bridge. This bridge is also toll-free for cyclists and pedestrians.




Many cyclists suggest that the route to the North and East sides give better view of the Biwa Lake and adjacent mountains, has less traffic, and has flatter roads best for cycling. But if you’re really pushing for the full experience, going all the way to the South and West sides is still highly recommended, though you may want to tread with caution. This is because the South and West sides of Biwaichi have more backroads and busier traffic. 


However, the roads are marked blue for cycling lanes. These lanes are divided into two depending on the cyclist’s level and pace with one side for more leisurely/beginner cyclists and the other for more advanced/fast-paced bikers. The routes are lined with signages to guide cyclists which lane is which.


Biwaichi/ Lake Biwa Cycling Loop pit stops to add to your itinerary





If your starting point is Otsu Port (located at the Southern tip of Lake Biwa and the easiest access to the lake from Kyoto), don’t miss out on Enryakuji Temple on Mt. Hiei, better known as the “mother of Buddhism” in Japan. This World Heritage Site is home to over 100 halls which visitors can admire in passing or explore in more detail depending on one’s schedule and preference. 


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Upon leaving Enryakuji Temple, the scenic route of Biwaichi will lead you to the Biwako Terrace which gives a grand view of Lake Biwa and the Biwako Flower Fountain which is one of the longest fountains in the world. 

Sekisemimaru-jinja is also a stop worth looking into. This shrine is dedicated to those who are seeking good fortune in music and the arts, and also houses important cultural relics from the Kamakura period. This shrine enshrines Semimaru no Mikoto, a famous poet and biwa player, and it serves as a monument to Semimaru no Mikoto.

This also serves as a monument to Kino Tsurayuki, a Japanese author, poet, and member of the court during the Heian period (794 -1185).


Need to take a break between Otsu and Hikone? Biwaichi is also filled with ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) and onsens (hot spring bathhouses) to relax in. 


If you want to experience Kansai in a different way — no hopping in and out of trains and going on hiking tours — a cycling tour around Biwaichi or Lake Biwa Cycling Loop is definitely the next thing to try.


Biwaichi Lake Biwa Cycling Loop



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