Lake Biwa – Shiga | Travel Information

Lake Biwa, located in Shiga Prefecture, is the largest freshwater lake in the country, and is a prominent feature among ancient Japanese literature due to its closeness to the former imperial capital of Heian-Kyo (Kyoto). The lake’s name is derived from the Japanese instrument – the biwa – as, the lake shares a resemblance to the instrument.But the name has actually changed over the course of time, it was only in the 14th century that Lake Biwa became the common name. Before then, it was known as ‘Awaumi’, but it was also known as Nio no Omi. 

The lake is home to a variety of native and introduced fish species, including endemic fish species such as the Giant Lake Biwa Catfish. However, nowadays, the numbers of native fish species are declining due to black bass and bluegill taking over the lake. But because of this, many locals have capitalized on this, and are now offering fishing tours on the lake to catch the bass and bluegill. If you are a bass fisher, then you do not want to miss out on this opportunity.

Accessing Lake Biwa

Lake Biwa is only minutes outside of the central area of Kyoto. Coming from Kyoto Station, you want to take the Tokaido-Sanyo Line on Local Yasu from Platform 2, and ride the train until Otsu Station, which will be a mere 200JPY and take 9 minutes.  From there, the lake front is only minutes away from the Train Station. 

Where To Stay

Nearby Attractions

Hikone Castle

Hikone Castle,  in the city of Hikone, Shiga Prefecture is one of the 12 original castle keeps that still exist in Japan, remarkably surviving WW2 and the Meiji Restoration. The Castle is one of the few original castle keeps to become recognised as a Japanese National Treasure, and is without a doubt the most historically and culturally significant building in the entire prefecture. 

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