The circuit of Lake Biwa is one of Japan's great bicycle rides.
It features all types of landscapes:
heavy industry near Otsu
agriculture and dairy farming
historical sites and castles
pristine nature, especially in the far north
and, of course, the lake views
Better still, roughly 80% of the ride is either on cycling lanes or rural sidewalks on which nary a pedestrian can be found.
Cars are an issue mainly on Route 8 in the north, and then on the stretch from Wani to Otsu (or, if you go the other way, Otsu to Wani) on Route 161. We rode counter-clockwise, so the final stretch into Otsu was grim.
It was a hard two days - one night in Nagahama - but satisfying in so many ways.
However, the ride could be improved in several ways.
The biggest problem is the route signs. There are signs specifically for the cycling route. However, they disappear for long stretches only to pop up in an odd - and easily missed - location. Even with several maps and the ability to read Japanese, we were befuddled on more than one occasion and had to ask for directions.
Second, the detour off of Route 161 - as depressing as that is - and under the Omi Ohashi Bridge is confusing.
Third, please someone somehow turn off the winds. In the Omihachiman area we were buffeted by in-your-face gusts. It was a rough two hours.
Still, the ride is a great, great experience. We hope to do it again - over three days - and see more of the sites.
Photo © Joe Banerjee
Tags Japan Touring Kyoto Cycle Japanese