Biwako, or Lake Biwa, is a large freshwater lake located in the Shiga Prefecture, east of Kyoto, and is one of the prefecture’s defining features. Bordered by the cities of Hikone–with one of Japan’s 12 remaining castles, Nagahama, Otsu, and Sakamoto, with Mount Ibuki overlooking the body of water.
Besides the watersports, fishing, and other activities within the lake, Biwako has a number of hot springs in the surrounding towns and mountains. This is ideal for visitors coming to explore tourist areas since accommodations can be found after trekking around the city or hiking along the mountainsides.
There are many things you can do in the Lake Biwa area which is accessible from downtown Kyoto in less than 30 minutes. Unfortunately, there are not many things to do in the onsen area of Biwako but the Hikone Castle which is very popular during the Sakura season and Miho Museum are not far from the onsen area by car.
Famous Onsen Ryokan
Because of the variety in the onsen and ryokan to be found in Biwako Onsen, visitors and locals can enjoy any form of relaxation desired—from public bathhouses to private and closed-off settings–with a variety of views that overlooks the wide lake.
There are two lines, the JR Tokaido Main Line and the Tokaido Shinkansen line, that connect Otsu and Hikone to Kyoto Station and Osaka Station. The Ogoto Onsen Station is an easily accessible train stop in Biwako.
There are many accommodations dotted around the Lake Biwa area, many of which overlook the beauty of nature and the lake. One of these is Biwako Hanakaido, a traditional Japanese inn that features a garden, a sauna, indoor and outdoor hot spring baths, three dining options, and rooms overlooking Lake Biwa.
There are many dining options available for the guests, each one utilizing mountain delicacies and seasonal ingredients, like “Omi Beef”, which has quality marbling and is raised mainly in Shiga prefecture. Seasonal Kyoto-kaiseki is also served along with a variety of bespoke food.
Biwako Ryokusutei, a resort-like inn, overlooks Lake Biwa as well and offers its guests private open-air hot spring baths and a public onsen. The inn takes great pride in their restaurant dishes and the meticulous preparation to serve high-quality meals to its guests using the best ingredients in the area. Attractions like Mount Hieizan Enryakuji Temple and Midera Temple are accessible from the location of the inn.
The modern accommodation of Yumotokan Hotel in the area offers traditional-style rooms with tatami mat flooring and futon bedding along with up-to-date equipment and furnishings. Its rooms boast of an incredible display of Lake Biwa and private bathrooms with a cypress tub filled with hot spring water.
It has various onsen facilities with others situated on the rooftop where guests can view Ogoto Town and the mountains that surround the location while bathing. Yumotokan Hotel is near UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Fushimi Inari Shrine, the Golden Pavilion, and the Kiyomizu Temple.
While there is also Hotel Yuzanso, a traditional Japanese inn that features open-air hot spring baths in some of the guest rooms and views of Lake Biwako. The hotel has public hot spring baths along with rentable private onsen baths. Its location is near to Hieizan Enryaku-ji Temple and Sanzen-in Temple.
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Then there is Dantoukan Kikunoya, a traditional ryokan that uses modern elements in its interiors. It’s known as a pet-friendly accommodation and is a go-to stay for people who travel with their furry buddies. The ryokan is also close to local attractions such as the Miidera Temple.
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