Let’s Go Around Lake Biwa by Bicycle!
Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture is the biggest lake in Japan. A cycling route around the lake, called “BIWAICHI,” has been selected as one of the National Cycle Routes designated by the government, along with Shimanami Kaido cycling road. It is a long cycling course of about 200km around the lake; however, with lots of flat parts, it can be recommended for not only advanced cyclists but also beginners.
If you are used to cycling for a long distance, it won’t be too hard to go through the course in one day. However, you may want to take a bit more time, from one-night and two-days to two-night and three-days to fully enjoy the course. There are lots of places that are too good to pass by along the course, such as historical sites and spots with gorgeous views. Depending on the time available and your stamina, you can choose to cycle either on the north side Hokko (North Lake), about 150km, or the south side Nanko (South Lake), about 50km. There are also 11 cycling courses, called “Biwaichi Plus,” visiting sights in the surrounding areas a little distance away from the lake. You can enjoy cycling in various ways.
Point 1: A fun place for strolling around with many historical spots!
Located next to Kyoto, Shiga Prefecture often appears on historical center stage since ancient days. Along the cycling course, there are many spots where you can feel the history of Japan, including Hikone Castle (National Treasure), streetscapes with a remnant of old castle towns in Omihachiman and Nagahama, and numerous temples and shrines with a distinguished history.
Point 2: Lots of photo spots!
Along the water and the mountains, there are not only lots of beautiful country views but also “instagrammable” spots, which attract attention through SNS. Said to be established about 2,000 years ago, Shirahige-jinja Shrine has a torii gate standing in the lake with a mysterious atmosphere. With 500 metasequoia (dawn redwood) trees planted along it for 2.4km, the beautiful avenue of metasequoia is another popular photo spot.
Point 3: Take a cruise trip with your bicycle!
A cruise ship, Omi Marine, connecting Hikone Port on the east side of the lake and Makino Port on the west side, is equipped with cycle racks, which allow passengers to bring their bicycles onboard. By taking this ship, you can avoid the road with lots of ups and downs on the north side, so it is recommended for beginners. On the cruise course, you can land on Chikubu Island, which has been a popular place of religious worship by people since olden times, with several historic temples and shrines.
Maibara Cycle Station
Directly connected to JR Maibara Station, which is one of the Shinkansen stations, this rental facility is conveniently located for you to start cycling right away after getting off the train. It offers a wide variety of rental bicycles, including those by famous manufacturers in Japan and abroad, as well as reliable servicing. Also equipped with shower rooms, it supports lots of cyclists. (from 3,800 yen for one day, tax not included)
*It closes for a while during winter. For details, please check the website:
More attractive aspects of Biwaichi
Along the cycling course, there are some onsen places, including Ogoto Onsen and Nagahama Taiko Onsen. So, you can take a few days to go around the lake by staying overnight at one of the onsen hotels to heal your fatigue.
One of the most famous kinds of food in Shiga Prefecture is Omi Beef, one of the top wagyu brands. If you want to taste it casually, you can try an Omi Beef burger offered at Sun-Burger in Hikone.
Another popular food among cyclists is “Saladroll” from Tsuruya, a long-established bakery. This unique bun is stuffed with strips of takuan, Japanese daikon pickles, mixed with special mayonnaise.
Support “Biwaichi” challengers!
There are various services to back up and support cyclists enjoying the tour around the lake. After registering at a special website, you can visit the checkpoints along the course to get a “Cycling Around Lake Biwa Certificate” and a sticker (fee applied, overseas delivery available).
There is also an app, called “BIWAICHI Cycling Navi,” with convenient functions, such as cycling route navigation (available in Japanese, English, and traditional Chinese). Don’t forget to use these useful services when you try this cycling course.
For details, please check the website:
Pour de plus amples informations sur Biwaichi, consultez les sites web ci-dessous !
*The information herein is as of March 2021.