Cycling Lake Biwa 5 days

Cycling Lake Biwa 5 days

(subject to change until the booking has been finalized)

Day 1 – By train from Kyoto; cycle Omi-Hachiman to Hikone

The day before your tour begins, meet a member of our ground team in central Kyoto for a brief orientation session, and to collect your bike and other gear for your journey. You are free to use your bike for the remainder of your time in Kyoto before departing on Day 1 of the tour for Shiga.
In the morning of tour Day 1, take a short train journey to Omi-Hachiman, a picturesque old merchant town on the eastern side of Lake Biwa and begin today’s ride here from the station. Explore charming Omi-Hachiman by cycling through the historical district, lined with wonderfully preserved old merchant houses (some of them are open as museums), and then continue along Hachiman-bori canal which runs through the scenic section of the town.
Leaving Omi-Hachiman, ride an optional extended coastal loop course to Lake Nishinoko and onward, taking in the breeze over its waters. Nearby is the hill-top Azuchi Castle ruins, another historically significant spot and a primary castle of Oda Nobunaga, one of Japan’s three great unifiers during the 16th century.
Further on the journey you will pass vast rice fields, scenic beaches lined with Japanese pine trees; then you will follow cycling lanes along Lake Biwa through to Hikone, your destination for tonight. The town is home to Hikone Castle, one of the country’s best-preserved Edo-period castles, with a tranquil Genkyu-en Japanese landscape garden housed within its walls.
Spend the night at a family-run Ryokan inn, or at a wonderfully preserved traditional Japanese folk house.

Distance: 42 km
Elevation gain: 93 meters
Avid Option: 58 km with approximately 335m elevation gain
Cycling time required: 3 to 4 hours
Accommodation: Ryokan (Travellers inn) or preserved traditional Japanese folk house
Meals: Dinner

Day 2 – Nagahama to Kinomoto

In the morning, ride a few kilometers into the centre of Hikone and board a train for the brief ride to Nagahama. Spend part of the morning cycling through the old merchant district and stop by the Hikiyama float museum where you will learn about the local Hikiyama festival, which dates back over 400 years from the Edo period. Colourful floats on display exhibit fine examples of traditional Japanese metalwork, wood carvings and lacquer work common in the Edo period.
Leaving the town, the course then cycles past lakeside Nagahama castle (which offers wonderful views across Lake Biwa from its upper keep) before cycling further north along scenic coastal cycle lanes and rural backroads, through small villages and on to the hidden Lake Yogo, surrounded by mountains on three sides. The lake’s serene environment earns it the name “Kagami-ko”, or Mirror Lake. After a gentle 6km loop ride around Lake Yogo, spend some time at a nearby café to enjoy beautiful views of the area.
Today’s ride finishes at nearby Kinomoto, an old post town along the ancient Hokkoku road which once was a main trade route connecting Kyoto with ports on the coast of the Sea of Japan. Here you can see remnants of the old merchant townscape and enjoy scenery as it was in the past. Kinomoto is also home to a long-standing Sake brewery with over 450 years of history and considered the 3rd oldest in Japan.
Your accommodation tonight is a charming traditional Japanese inn nearby. Fresh seasonal delicacies sourced from the lake and surrounding mountains are a highlight of your dinner tonight.

Distance: 43 km
Elevation gain: 409 meters t
Cycling time required: 3 to 4 hours
Note: a shorter option is available by using a train transfer.
Accommodation: Ryokan (Travellers inn) or Minshuku (Family-run Guesthouse)
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3 – Kinomoto to Sugaura

Today the journey is the destination as you ride along quiet winding roads between the mountains and coastline. While cycling from Kinomoto this morning, enjoy a side trip up a short cable lift to Mt. Shizugatake’s 360-degree summit lookout, with breathtaking views of Lake Biwa and Lake Yogo. In the distance, the Hira Mountain Range and Chikubujima Island to the southwest, and towering Mt. Ibuki to the east can also be seen. Continue cycling along gentle bike lanes through some of the most picturesque shorelines in Shiga.
Make a stop for lunch along the way before arriving at the hidden lakeshore village of Sugaura, which only a few decades ago became accessible by road and is enclosed by mountains on three sides. Spend the afternoon exploring this quiet fishing village and its ancient shrines and temples, or take a relaxing stop on the coast.
For more cycling, enjoy another optional loop course around the peninsula, which begins with a sharp but manageable uphill of 3 km to the panoramic lookout over the surrounding bay – and another perfect café stop. Take a short ride back down to the village, or continue cycling on for another 25 km along the peninsula’s scenic loop course and return to Sugaura.
Tonight, enjoy the lakeshore views from your accommodation in Sugaura, which offers fantastic indoor and outdoor Japanese baths to soak away in.

Distance: 25 km
Elevation gain: 409 meters
Avid optional extension course: 27 km and approximate 425m elevation gain
Cycling time required: 2 to 4 hours
Note: a shorter option is available by using a train transfer.
Accommodation: Japanese-style Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4 – Sugaura to Takashima

After breakfast, enjoy the morning atmosphere in Sugaura village before cycling onward via the scenic Kaizu-Osaki shoreline (where over 600 sakura cherry trees form a tunnel of light and color in spring) before diverging inland. After a few short, sharp uphill sections, the route gives way to beautiful countryside dotted with traditional thatched-roof houses surrounded by hills, then a gradual sweeping downhill into another Satoyama village (with a lovely thatched-roof folk house museum) and onward through a beautiful 2.5km stretch of road lined with a tunnel of hundreds of Metasequoia trees. A nice cafe lunch is recommended nearby. The remainder of the afternoon allows for further discoveries: cycle along the scenic river-side bike lanes connecting to numerous hamlets in the area, and onward to nearby Makino lakeshore and its scenic pine-tree lined beach.
*Avid cyclists may wish to ride on towards the surrounding mountains for an optional hill climb loop course of around 31 km / 19 miles and 774m / 2,211 feet elevation gain, passing through Mt. Hakodateyama with spectacular views of the countryside below and of Chikubujima Island and Mt. Ibuki far off in the distance.
This evening, you will receive a warm well come at your final inn in Takashima.

Distance: 43 km
Elevation gain: 62 meters
Avid Option: 58 km with approximately 669 meters elevation gain
Cycling time required: 3 to 4 hours
Note: a shorter option is available by using a train transfer.
Avid optional extension course: 31 km and approximate 674m elevation gain (2 hours )
Accommodation: Traditional Japanese folkhouse or Minshuku (Family-run Guesthouse)
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5 – Cycle to Omi-Maiko, and return to Kyoto

After breakfast, say goodbye to your hosts and cycle your final leg of the tour through to Omi-Maiko along the lakeshore. En route while cycling to Omi-Maiko, enjoy part of the morning with a chartered boat ride to nearby Chikubushima Island, one of the eight most scenic spots of Lake Biwa and known to be a source of great spiritual energy. On the island, the two old buildings of Hogon-ji Temple and Tsukubusuma Shrine have been cherished as objects of faith from the distant past, both still wonderfully decorated with traditional Japanese architecture and décor that represents of the elaborate Azuchi-Momoyama period (1573 – 1603).
A shorter cycle option is available by using a train transfer.

Distance: 39 km
Elevation gain: 189 meters
Cycling time required: 3 -to 3.5 hours
Meals: Breakfast
After completing the journey, you will have a special place in your memories for Lake Biwa long after.


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