Discover Lake Biwa Area

Lake Biwa has something for everyone: swimming, kayaking, sailing, wind surfing or enjoying a boat cruise on the lake.  Visit the local shrines, temples and museums or go for a hike in the mountains. The area around Lake Biwa will surely impress you. 

Things to see and do

Tours and Activities

FAQs

Getting around in the Lake Biwa Area

The easiest way to get around in the Lake Biwa Area is by car, but most major sights and attractions are accessible by a combination of trains and busses. If you decide to rent a car, it is advised to do so from the nearest airport in the vicinity. You can use our car rental widget in the FAQ menu below. 

Getting to Lake Biwa

Public transportation:

Since the lake area is quite vast and has multiple areas of interest, there is not one specific place to get off. Luckily, the area is almost completely surrounded by railways, so travelers can get off anywhere they like. 
 

Valid rail passes:

 

Nearest airport:

The nearest and most convenient airport is Kansai International Airport in Osaka. 

  • by car: approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes

  • by public transport: approximately 3 hours

  • by bullet-train: approximately 2 hours (only to Maibara station)

 

Car rentals:

How long to stay in the Lake Biwa Area

We recommend staying here between three and four days.
 

Hotels at the Lake Biwa Area

Flights to the Lake Biwa Area

The nearest and most convenient airport is Kansai International Airport in Osaka. 

  • by car: approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes

  • by public transport: approximately 3 hours

  • by bullet-train: approximately 2 hours (only to Maibara station)

Seasonal information

Cherry blossoms: 

The best time to see cherry blossoms in Japan is usually between late March and early April. Although the blooming period can vary slightly from year to year. 

 

Beaches:

The swimming season on mainland Japan is usually between July and August. 

 

Winter sports:

Ski resorts in Japan typically run from January until April. Though this can differ from year to year, depending on the amount of snow.

  • Biwako Valley: click here to go to the official website

  • Kutsuki Snow Park: click here to go to the official website

 

Hiking:

The hiking season in this area typically runs from Spring until Autumn.

 

Scenic rides:

  • Hieizan Sakamoto Cable Car: click here to go to the official website

  • Mizugo Boat Tour: click here to go to the official website

  • Hachimanbori Boat Tour: click here to go to the official website

  • Biwako Valley Ropeway: click here to go to the official website

  • Otsu Port Cruise: click here to go to the official website

  • Hachimanyama Ropeway: click here to go to the official website

Festivals at Lake Biwa

There are several festivals here throughout the year. Please be advised that the following list is based upon previous entries of those festivals and that the dates might have changed slightly in the following year. It is also possible that the entire festival is cancelled in the case of heavy rainfall or a natural disaster. Please check with the official organisers' website for the most up-to-date information. 
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For the exact location of any of the festivals listed here, you can consult our map above by clicking on the icon in the upper most corner of the map to open the map legend. Festivals are hidden by default but can be made visible by clicking on the "Festivals" checkbox in the map legend.

 

  • Lake Biwa Light Picture Scroll Hikone Lantern Festival

    • Date: February 10th until 14th

    • Time: 18:00 - 21:00

  • Echigawa Gion Summer Fireworks Festival

    • Date: July 13th

    • Time: 19:40 - 21:00
       

  • Otsu Shiga Fireworks Festival

    • Date: July 23rd

    • Time: 19:45 - 20:30
       

  • Lake Biwa Otsu Mazare Festival

    • Date: July 27th and 28th

    • Time: 12:00 - 20:30
       

  • Moriyama Summer Festival

    • Date: July 27th

    • Time: 16:00 - 21:00
       

  • Kusatsu Yoshi Matsuaki Festival

    • Date: July 27th

    • Time: 16:00 - 20:00
       

  • Nagahama Summer Festival

    • Date: July 27th

    • Time: 16:00 - 20:30
       

  • Karasaki Shrine Mitarashi Festival

    • Date: July 28th and 29th
       

  • Hikone Fireworks Festival

    • Date: August 1st

    • Time: 19:45 - 20:30
       

  • Hikone Summer Night Festival

    • Date: August 4th

    • Time: 17:30 - 21:00
       

  • Hikone Bayashi Total Dance Tournament

    • Date: August 10th

    • Time: 17:30 - 18:50
       

  • Hikone Mantou Nagashi Festival

    • Date: August 6th

    • Time: 18:30 - 20:30
       

  • Hikone Yukata Festival

    • Date: August 10th

    • Time: 15:00 - 21:00
       

  • Funayuki Festival Fireworks Festival

    • Date: August 17th
       

  • Nagahama Azai Appare Festival

    • Date: August 31st

    • Time: 09:00 - 21:00
       

  • Nagahama / Lake Biwa Fireworks Festival

    • Date: September 18th

    • Time: 19:30 - 20:30
       

  • Hikone Fireworks Festival

    • Date: September 26th
       

  • Awa Odori & Goshu Ondo Festival

    • Date: September 28th

    • Time: 18:00 - 20:00
       

  • Lake Biwa Fireworks Festival

    • Date: October 29th

    • Time: 19:00 - 20:00
       

  • Ogoto Onsen Fireworks Festival

    • Date: November 1st

    • Time: 20:00 - 20:30

Getting mobile data in Japan

Day trips from Lake Biwa Area

Ohara is just a little bit outside of Kyoto center, but offers several  impressive temples in a much more natural and serene setting.

Travel time:

Distance, km: 6.15

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Kurama is famous for its temples, hot springs and abundance of nature. Some of the most impressive historical temples in all of Japan can be seen here. 

Travel time:

Distance, km: 10.04

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For centuries the seat of the imperial court, Kyoto is the cultural capital, which means there are no lack of things you can do. With dozens of sights and monuments to ...

Travel time:

Distance, km: 11.65

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Uji has a vast array of ancient and religious temples worth visiting as well beautiful parks, local shopping streets and even a water park for you to cool off in. 

Travel time:

Distance, km: 21.02

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Just a little outside Kyoto city, you will find Oyamazaki. Often overlooked because of its proximity to Kyoto, it offers several interesting sights and museums. 
 

Travel time:

Distance, km: 26.10

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For everyone interested in learning more about ninja's, Iga is the place to go. Home to the Iga-ryu ninja tradition, one of the two most well known ninja traditions in ...

Travel time:

Distance, km: 41.12

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Less then an hour from Kyoto, you will find the historical city of Nara. When you arrive at the station you will almost immediately be greeted by the many deer ...

Travel time:

Distance, km: 43.45

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Minoo is a city just north of Osaka which boasts one of the oldest parks in Japan. Minoo Park contains walking trails, temples and the famous Minoo Falls waterfall.  Along ...

Travel time:

Distance, km: 43.76

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Most attractions in Ikoma center around Mount Ikoma. Start your journey by taking the cable-car up the mountain or opt to hike up. In the latter case, make sure to ...

Travel time:

Distance, km: 44.97

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Yunoyama is historical hot spring town with traditional inns. Many of which open their hot springs to day visitors.  Take a cable car up to the mountains and be delighted by the ...

Travel time:

Distance, km: 53.21

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