Get off the beaten path and enjoy the exceptional beauty of Lake Biwa on this 7-day tour starting in Moriyama. Covering relatively short distances each day on an e-bike, you'll see Japan's landscapes and culture from a unique perspective. Visit historic villages such as Omi-Hachiman, Sugaura, and Harie, where you can sample local cuisine, learn about regional culture, and enjoy forest and beach scenery. Stop at shrines, take a cable car to the top of Mt. Shizugatake, and enjoy a boat ride to the spiritual Chikubujima Island, all while sleeping at traditional guesthouses with onsen, or hot spring baths.

Highlights

  • Explore breathtaking natural scenery on an e-bike
  • Explore Omi-Hachiman village, home to the impressive Hikone Castle
  • Visit the hidden gem of "Mirror Lake," Lake Yogo
  • Get in touch with spiritual energy on sacred Chikubujima Island
  • Sample the delicious regional cuisine of Shiga
  • Discover gorgeous rural landscapes at your own pace

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Moriyama & Explore Lake Biwa  Moriyama
Day 2 Cycle to Hikone via the Merchant Town of Omi-Hachiman Hikone
Day 3 Discover "Mirror Lake" on Your Way to Nagahama Nagahama
Day 4 Ride a Cable Car to Mt. Shizugatake & Cycle to Sugaura Nishiazai
Day 5 Boat to Chikubushima Island & Cycle to Takashima Takashima
Day 6 Discover Sustainable Villages While Cycling to Omi-Takashima Adogawa
Day 7 Visit Shirahige Shrine - Depart Japan  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Moriyama & Explore Lake Biwa 

Ukimido, Lake Biwa
Reflections on Lake Biwa

Welcome to Japan! Your tour begins near Lake Biwa in Moriyama, Shiga, which is easily accessible by many major airports and cities in Japan. (The closest airports are Osaka’s Kansai International Airport and Nagoya’s Central Japan Airport, which are both about two hours by train. Tokyo’s airports are about four hours away by train.)

After settling into your accommodation, you are free to explore the area on your own. Check out the Sagawa Art Museum or cycle to Ukimido Temple Hall along the lakefront. Known as the “floating temple” on Lake Biwa, it's one of the remaining "Eight Views of Omi" originally drawn in the early 19th century by renowned Ukiyo-e Japanese printmaker Utagawa Hiroshige. Get some rest at your hotel before continuing on the journey.

Day 2: Cycle to Hikone via the Merchant Town of Omi-Hachiman

Hikone Castle in the Springtime
Hikone Castle in the springtime

After breakfast, you'll start your cycling journey. You'll be riding an e-bike, giving you the option to flip on the battery power for an added 'boost' when your cycling legs get tired. The first ride of the trip starts in Moriyama at the southwest end of Lake Biwa. First, you'll cycle north to Omi-Hachiman, a picturesque old merchant town. Its historic district is lined with wonderfully preserved old houses, some of which have been turned into museums. You'll then continue along Hachiman-bori Canal, where you can opt for an extended coastal loop to Lake Nishinoko. Nearby are the ruins of Azuchi Castle, another historically significant spot and a primary castle of Oda Nobunaga — the first of Japan’s three great unifiers — during the 16th century.

Later on the journey, you'll pass vast rice fields and scenic Japanese beaches as you continue along Lake Biwa to Hikone, your destination for tonight. The town is home to Hikone Castle, one of the country’s best-preserved castles. It features a tranquil Genkyu-en Japanese landscape garden within its walls. Spend the night at a family-run ryokan (inn).

Cycling Details:

  • Distance: 35 miles (56 km)
  • Elevation gain: 305 feet (93 m)
  • Cycling time required: 3-4 hours
  • Extended Option: 45 miles (72 km) with approximately 1,099 feet (335 m) elevation gain

Day 3: Discover "Mirror Lake" on Your Way to Nagahama

Exploring Traditional Towns of Japan
Exploring a traditional Japanese town

In the morning, you'll start your ride along the lake's shore towards Nagahama. Enjoy the scenery through the old merchant district and stop by the Hikiyama Float Museum to learn about the local Hikiyama Festival. The exhibit features colorful floats — fine examples of traditional Japanese metalwork, woodcarvings, and lacquer, all common in the Edo Period.
 
As you leave the town, the route passes by the lakeside Nagahama Castle with its wonderful views across Lake Biwa. You'll then turn north and follow scenic coastal paths and rural backroads, passing small villages and Lake Yogo. This picturesque lake is surrounded by mountains on three sides, earning it the name Kagami-ko or "Mirror Lake." After a gentle loop around Lake Yogo, take a break in a nearby café and enjoy views of the surrounding landscape.

Today’s ride finishes in Kinomoto, an old post town along the ancient Hokkoku Road, once a main trade route connecting Kyoto with ports on the Sea of Japan. Here you can see remnants of the old merchant town and visit Japan's third-oldest sake brewery, which has been in operation for over 450 years. You'll sleep tonight in a traditional inn. Fresh seasonal delicacies, all sourced from the lake and surrounding mountains, form the basis of tonight's homecooked dinner. 

Cycle Details:

  • Distance: 33 miles (53 km)
  • Elevation gain: 1,341 feet (409 m)
  • Cycling time required: 3-4 hours

Day 4: Ride a Cable Car to Mt. Shizugatake & Cycle to Sugaura

Shiga, Japan
The road leading into Shiga, Japan

Today the route will take you along quiet winding roads between the mountains and coastline. Enjoy a scenic detour up a short cable lift to Mt. Shizugatake’s summit, offering panoramic views of Lake Biwa and Lake Yogo. In the distance, you can see the Hira Mountain Range, Chikubushima Island, and the towering Mt. Ibuki. The hilltop lookout also served as a battleground in the 16th century; the outcome propelled Toyotomi Hideyoshi into power. He became the second of Japan’s three great unifiers.

Continue cycling along bike lanes through some of the most picturesque shorelines in Shiga. Break for lunch along the trip before arriving at the lakeside village of Sugaura, enclosed by mountains on three sides. This quiet area became accessible by road only a few decades ago. Spend the afternoon exploring the peaceful fishing village and its ancient shrines and temples, or relax on the coast. If you're up for more cycling, you have two options. You could opt for a loop around the peninsula, which begins with a sharp but manageable 4-mile (6-km) ride uphill to a panoramic viewpoint. Or start the loop, then extend the trip further, pedaling for an additional 15 miles (25 km) along the peninsula’s scenic loop course to return to Sugaura. At night, relax in the fantastic indoor and outdoor Japanese baths at your inn.

Cycling Details:

  • Distance: 15 miles (25 km)
  • Elevation gain: 1,341 feet (409 m)
  • Cycling time required: 2 - 4 hours
  • Extended option: 17 miles (27 km) and approximately 1,394 feet (425 m) elevation gain

Day 5: Boat to Chikubushima Island & Cycle to Takashima

Lakeshore cycling
Cycling along the shore of Lake Biwa

Have a hearty breakfast, then enjoy a morning boat ride to nearby Chikubushima Island, one of the most scenic spots on Lake Biwa. It's known to be a source of great spiritual energy. On the island, you can visit two historical buildings, Hogon-ji Temple and Tsukubusuma Shrine. Both are dedicated sites of faith, emblematic of traditional Japanese architecture from the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1573 - 1603).

After returning to Sugaura by boat, you'll begin cycling the scenic Kaizu-Osaki shoreline where over 600 cherry blossom trees form a tunnel of color in the spring months. With a few short uphill treks, the route gives way to rolling countryside dotted with traditional thatched-roof houses surrounded by hills. After you descend downhill into another village, Satoyama, you'll follow a beautiful stretch of road lined with hundreds of Metasequoia trees. Stop for lunch at one of the nearby cafés. Then continue cycling scenic riverside bike lanes, traveling onward to the nearby Makino lakeshore and its beach filled with pine trees. If you want to extend the cycling adventure, you can opt to ride along nearby mountain trails, adding an additional 19 miles (31 km) and 2,211 feet (774 m) of elevation gain. Get some rest at your accommodations in Takashima.


Cycling Details:

  • Distance: 27 miles (43 km)
  • Elevation gain: 203 feet (62 m)
  • Cycling time required: 3-4 hours
  • Extended options: 36 miles (58 km) with approximately 2,194 feet (669 m) elevation gain and 19 miles (31 km) and approximately 2,211 feet (674 m) elevation gain

Day 6: Discover Sustainable Villages While Cycling to Omi-Takashima

Terraced Rice Fields in Japan
Terraced rice fields overlooking the lake

Today's ride takes you to picturesque villages surrounded by mountains and terraced rice paddies, both exquisite examples of Satoyama (里山) settlements where people and nature coexist in harmony. You'll first cycle the western side of Lake Biwa to the village of Harie, where a network of natural springs formed from mountain rainwater flows underground to the lake. Then make your way inland to a hidden farming village surrounded by mountains on three sides and beautiful terraced rice paddies. You'll find excellent cafés and eateries along the way, perfect for a lunch or tea break.

In the afternoon, cycle to Omi-Takashima. You'll pass through the historic center and to the nearby lakeshore, where you'll spend the trip's final evening in a Japanese ryokan with excellent hot spring baths.

Cycling Details:

  • Distance: 29 miles (46 km)
  • Elevation gain: 1,479 feet (451 m)
  • Cycling time required: 2.5-3.5 hours

Day 7: Visit Shirahige Shrine - Depart Japan

Torii gate, Shirahige Shrine
The torii gate at Shirahige Shrine

Enjoy a final breakfast before the last cycle of the trip. Today you'll begin along the shores of Lake Biwa, making your way to Shirahige Shrine, a beautiful building with a grand, vermillion-lacquered torii gate standing in the lake. The name of the shrine means “white beard” in English, and it's one of Shiga’s oldest shrines with over 2,000 years of history. Stop here for a lunch break before cycling past the beaches at Omi-Maiko. Cross over the Biwako Ohashi Bridge, which spans the lake's narrowest point. Your journey comes full circle with your return to Moriyama. After returning your bike, you will head back to the airport for your flight home. Safe travels!

Cycling Details:

  • Distance: 19 miles (31 km)
  • Elevation gain: 479 feet (146 m)
  • Cycling time required: 2.5 - 3.5 hours

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