180503 Day 1: Otsu-Hikone

I planned the Biwako bike tour and asked friends to ride together because we were able to ride tandem bikes in Shiga prefecture where Biwako is located from this April. (I don’t know why but 20 of 47 prefectures prohibit riding tandem bikes.)

The tour was very cheerful. Four families and a man with visually impaired joined the tour; 9 adults and 4 children with 4 tandem bikes, 1 triplet, and 1 single bike.


Screenshot 2018-05-20 20.57.55

Day 1: Ride from Otsu to Hikone along the east coast of Biwako lake. Stop in Omi-Hachiman area.

Day 2: Ride from Hikone to Makino along the northeast coast of Biwako lake. Stop in Hikone castle.

Day 3: Ride from Makino to Ohara, Kyoto along the northwest coast of Biwako lake. Leave the lake at Wani, Otsu city, and cross Tochu-goe Pass.

Day 4: Ride from Ohara to Kifune, go to Kyoto Station. Pack bikes and train to Tokyo by  Shinkansen(bullet train).

Biwako Canal


Before going to Otsu station, we visited Biwako Canal, an 11 km waterway constructed between 1885 and 1912.

The canal transports water, cargo, and passengers from Biwako to Kyoto, and it is also famous for Japan’s first hydroelectric power generator, it served from 1895 to provide electricity for Kyoto’s trams.

Otsu Station


8:30 am, We gathered in front of with four tandem bikes and one triplet, and one single bike. ( Some of them are shipped by home delivery service or brought by train.)

Ito-Maki san joined our tour with her own road bike. We had met at Shimanami Tandem festival this march. She is now working at a rental bike shop in this area, so we asked her to join the tour and guide us.

Riding  east along Biwako lake

Seta-no-karahashi bridge

We rode along Seta River,  the only river flowing out of the Biwa-ko Lake.

IMG_3765.jpgAnd crossed Seta-no-karahashi bridge.
It is said the bridge has a long history from the age of gods and is one of the Three Famous Bridges of Japan.

Hiroshige View of a long bridge across a lake
Hiroshige View of a long bridge across a lake

Fujigasaki-Ryujin shrine is famous for its spiritual power.

We kept pedaling along Biwako east coast. When we entered Omi-Hachiman city, Itomaki-san led us on a narrow path to avoid busy traffic. Along the path, we visited “Fujigasaki-Ryujin” shrine. (Ryujin literally means Dragon god; the god of water)


DSC01281We arrived Omi-Hachiman city. When I rode Biwako in 2007, I liked the old atmosphere of the city, so I decided to visit the city again and stay longer than the last visit.

Omi-Hachiman was built as a castle city of the Toyotomi clan in the last 16th century. The merchants are famous for good business.

I like their family motto is  ‘Sanpo Yoshi’ (benefit for all three sides), the merchant should take into consideration the benefits not only for the customer and vendor but also for society. Is it better than “win-win solution”?

The city is also famous for the canal that former merchant’s residences used for transport.

Before lunch, we visited “La Collina”, which is the flagship shop of Taneya, famous Japanese confectioner. However, it was crowded with many people and we gave up eating lunch in it.

“La collina” is designed by Fujimori Terunobu, the present director of Edo-Tokyo museum.

Then we went to the old city area and ate lunch which Itomaki-san recommended.

Omi Gyu don (bowl of rice topped with “omi beef”, top quality wagu beef)
The old area has a good atmosphere
After lunch, we ate hot dumplings at Taneya head shop.
I got “Baumkuchen” at Taneya. It’s my family’s favorite sweets.

The Ruins of Azuchi Castle

We visited the ruins of Azuchi Castle. It was built by Oda Nobunaga from 1576 to 1579, but burned down after Nobunaga died. He is one of famous figures in Japanese history. He unified in Sengoku period, Age of Warring States but soon after he was betrayed by his retainer, Akechi Mitsuhide.

It was said that the castle was unique designed, luxurious and splendid.

I felt the transience of ancient warrior dream.

Steep stairs to the main citadel of Azuchi castle

After visiting the castle, we fought a strongheadwind, our pace went down but at 17:40  We reached “Super Hotel Minami Hikone-Ekimae“.
We ate dinner at “Mamenohatake“, a buffet restaurant near the hotel with Itomaki-san. (Thanks a lot, Itomaki-san.)

The first day, I and Itomaki-san rode the front position on the tandem bike and Mogutan, a visually impaired man with visually impaired rode behind. It was my first time to ride a tandem bike with an adult man and I understand, it is often said, that it is difficult for a small person to ride front position on a tandem bike with a larger person behind. We sometimes wobbled when we started pedaling.

Distance: 87.19km.

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