Located just outside Kyoto, Lake Biwa is a sprawling freshwater lake dating back more than four million years. This impressive natural attraction has a diverse ecosystem, housing more than 1,000 species, including 46 native fish species and more than 500 types of water birds. You can also discover a unique archaeological site at Lake Biwa, the Awazu site, which showcases traditions from the ancient Jomon period.
The shores of Lake Biwa reveal a wealth of notable attractions, including the 17th-century Hikone Castle, which dates back to the Edo period and is one of the most important historical structures in Shiga. On the opposite side of the lake sits Shirahige Shrine, which is dedicated to Sarutahiko Okami.
Don’t forget to venture to Chikubu Island, a small island in the north of Lake Biwa where you can see the circa-420 AD Tsukubusuma Shrine and the Karamon gate, a National Treasure of Japan. Need to relax? Head to Nagahama Taiko Hot Spring, which lets you soak weary muscles while looking out over Lake Biwa.
The southern edge of Lake Biwa is about 40 minutes from Kyoto via the Tozai Line to Biwako-Hamaotsu Station. You can use the reliable train system to travel around the entirety of Lake Biwa.