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Lake Biwa

In the middle of the Shiga prefecture, the lake Biwa or Biwako is the largest lake in Japan : 63km long, 22km large, 104m depth, 235,5km of circumference and 670km² of area. 50 000 aquatic birds come there every year. It appeared 4 millions years ago but it took its actual shape only 430 000 years ago. It's the principal source of fresh water of the 14 millions inhabitants of Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe. Fishes are excellent there. More or less everywhere on the shores of the lake, you can see nets in the shape of an arrow. It's an ancestral technic of fishing of the lake's fishermen, called eri. It takes into account the behaviour of fishes that move in a straight line. The North-West shore of the lake, Kaizu-osaki, is wellknown for its magnificient path of cherry tree in spring.

The first time you'll see the lake, you'll maybe think you're on the seaside. A long time ago, Japanese people called this lake "sea" and inhabitants of Shiga prefecture still do so. The current Shiga prefecture is called "Omi", which means "near the sea". For Kansai inhabitants, this lake is very important and it's sometimes easier to go there than to the sea. They come for scenery (visible from the train), swimming, fishing, hiking or cooking on the beach.

Chikubu island is called "isle where god lives". It's 2km of circumference and 197,6m of altitude. In the middle of the subtropical forest, you'll discover its sublime scenery with Hôgon-ji temple and Tsukubusuma shrine. An old chorus of nô, japanese theatre, says that, "in the evening, fishes climb up trees and rabbits run on waves, under the moon". Including this granitic isle, the 8 picturesque sceneries of the lake Biwa, called Biwako-hakkei, have to be seen absolutely.

The lake Biwa is accessible from Kyoto by the JR train. Since Yamashina station, the last station of Kyoto, there are 2 different lines : the East line, Biwako-sen, and the West line, Kosei-sen. The first one goes to the historicaly important stations of Otsu Ishiyama, Kusatsu, Ritto, Yasu, Omi-Hachiman, Hikone, Maibara and Nagahama. The second goes to the picturesque sites and bathing spots of Otsu-kyo, Hieizan-Sakamoto, Ogoto-onsen, Katata, Wani, Hira, Horai, Omi-Maiko, Kita-Komatsu, Omi-Takashima, Adogawa, Omi-Imazu and Makino. Those 2 lines cross at Omi-Shiozu. It takes 2 hours to go around the lake by train. To access to Chikubu island, take the boat at Omi-Imazu port.




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