Lake Biwa is the largest freshwater lake in Japan and one of the twenty oldest lakes in the world. Located northeast of Kyoto in the Shiga Prefecture, its proximity to the ancient capital has seen many references to Lake Biwa within Japanese literature.
Over the many millennia that the lake has been in existence, a diverse ecosystem has evolved, with more than a thousand plant and animal species living there. The lake also attracts thousands of water birds, and therefore birdwatching is a popular pastime around its shores. Other activities at Lake Biwa include fishing, boat rides, and a number of watersports. Bicycles can also be rented next to the train station nearby, with the wide paths around the lake making the area ideal for cycling.
There are a number of historical places of interest surrounding the lake, including Hikone, a city most famous for its castle, which is one of just four in Japan designated as a national treasure.
It takes approximately 30 minutes from Kyoto to Omimaiko Station near the lake, where there is also a pleasant beach.