Got up early on Saturday morning to travel from Tokyo all the way to Shiga prefecture.
Had planned on taking the overnight bus but the buses were booked out way in advance due to Obon and summer holidays. The shinkansen it was then.
From Tokyo to Maibara, it took about 2.5 hours on the shinkansen and then a short 9min local train to Nagahama station where I would stay overnight.
Upon exiting Nagahama station I headed straight for the west exit and to the rentacycle shop. There, I rented a bike for 2 days (for the Saturday and Sunday – only 2000yen for 2day rental plus a 500yen refundable deposit). I was going to be swimming a race in Lake Biwa on the Sunday and had to stay overnight the night before. I figured I would make the most of the weekend in Shiga ken.
The guys are the bike rental shop were super lovely and friendly. In fact, everyone I met in Shiga prefecture was super friendly. They only had electric bikes, so I made do with that. The guys were really concerned about the battery not lasting much more than 60km (I had told them I would be riding 60-70km on the Saturday alone). I would need to come back on Sunday morning to replace the battery.
Armed with my electric mamachari complete with basket, my plan was to ride to Notogawa about 30-35km away. I had found a place there where I could rent SUP boards. I sent off from Nagahama at about 11:40am. It was about 34-35 degrees. It was gonna take me a couple of hours to cycle there.
Lake Biwa is Japan’s largest lake (freshwater). It has a circumference of approx. 235km. At its maximum length it’s about 63.5 km and maximum width of about 23km.
This is Lake Biwa:
This is how much of it I cycled in 2 hours:
The most painful 30km ever. Cycling is not at all a comfortable sport. It was hot, I was carrying my overnight backpack, and my arse was killing me. Cyling is just nasty.
You can cycle all around Lake Biwa. There is, for the most part, an awesome cycle path that follows around Lake Biwa along the main traffic road. It is also pancake flat (or at least the portion that I cycled).
It’s a pretty easy cycling route, minus the bike discomfort factor.
Cycling around Lake Biwa in photos:
Follow the path:
Alongside Lake Biwa:
The lake stretches on for a really really long time:
There are cycling road signs around Lake Biwa so you shouldn’t get too lost. I did have to detour a couple of times though.
There’s a tiny tiny island out in the middle of Biwako:
Every now and then, you’ll have to veer through off the main road and away from the lake.
There’ll be more than a handful of bridges to cross as well, as lots of little rivers run off the lake.
Whilst I was pedaling away, this guy was just chillin’:
Whilst the lake dominates the view on one side, you’re surrounded by rice paddies on the other.
After a couple of hours of cycling, and weaving in out of some rice paddies, I finally stumbled upon my destination:
This was the SUP rental place. They went all kinds of water sporting gear here.
Such a cool little place. You can even stay overnight there.
It was about 2pm ish by now. Just enough time to get in a couple of hours of SUP. I’ll tell ya what though, my arse from cycling was killing me. I was not looking forward to cycling back. The guys at this shop were super super friendly. They gave me a free ice cream which was a welcome treat after that cycle. They drove me to a nice flat section of the lake where all the other SUPers were. Away I went. Doing anything but cycling, was pure bliss. Good conditions to SUP on – Lake Biwa is really flat, although the wind picked up later which made paddling a bit tough.
The water temp of Lake Biwa was disgusting warm. About 30 degrees.
I enjoyed my time out on the water – very zen. SUP is so relaxing. For me, just being out on/in/near the water is very relaxing and recharging. The other SUPers out there were all super friendly. They were all crazy fast SUPers and compete in races. One of the guys was fast enough to win himself a Hawaii flight prize at one his races. Impressive. I also met an American guy who is the owner of a surf and SUP board store back in Chiba. Got his details, so will probably check out his shop/surf school and check out the beaches in Chiba to keep practising.
At about 5pm I had to think about heading back. Ugh. I had to cycle another 2 hours back. I’m sure my backside was wincing at the thought.
I ploughed back to Nagahama on the bike. Did get to see a lovely sunset over Lake Biwa though:
Even at 6pm it was still 32 degrees!
It was dark by the time I got back to my hotel.
60km cycling around Lake Biwa. And Stand Up Paddleboarding on Lake Biwa.
My arse will thank me if I never have to get back on a bike again.
In fact, I’m actually tempted to sell my 1-year-old roadbike and get a SUP board instead.