How would you like to enjoy a day off in the ultimate tranquility of the countryside as you take a leisurely cycle along the serene shores of Lake Biwa?
Using electric bikes that provide an effortless, refreshing ride, this course follows beautiful lakeside roads up to stunning scenes of stepped rice terraces. You will enjoy a peaceful and relaxing day as a guest of Hira Village, a traditional village located at the foot of the Hira mountains, just a short hop from Kyoto. This is a slow-paced, off-the-beaten-track tour in the countryside showing a different side of Japan, where you can visit local shrines and wander along village streets free of the tourist crowds.
Farm-to-table lunch cooking is always a particular highlight of our homevisit tours, as you are welcomed into the traditional home of a local farming family. Instructed by the lady of the house, indulge yourself in preparing a delicious lunch (a vegetarian menu is also available) using the freshest local ingredients.
We hope you will join us on this tour and its feast of discoveries!
1. You still need to balance yourself when riding an electric powered bicycle.
2. The tour will be canceled if the chance of rain for the date of the tour is forecast at 70% or more on the day prior.
3. This tour is basically closed from December to March due to the strong wind and snow. However, weather permitting, we will host the tour. Please dress warmly if you wish to take the tour in winter.
4. The tour is also closed from late April to early May and in early September as it is the rice planting / harvest season for farmers.
5. Please bring a raincoat & warm clothes (jacket) in case of a change in the weather conditions.
6. Please understand that the itinerary may be changed without notice due to the weather, traffic and/or emergencies.
JR Shiga Station (Kosei-Line, NOT Biwako Line), about 40 minutes (10th stop) from JR Kyoto Station by a local train.
After a scenic 40-minute train ride from JR Kyoto station, you will arrive at JR Shiga station.
From here, you will ride electric bicycles at your own pace along the lakeside, admiring the beautiful combination of Lake Biwa, ancient villages and the Hira mountain range.
Villagers who live around the lake have depended on Lake Biwa as their water source from ancient times. The lake water was used for drinking, washing, bathing and farming. Fish caught in the lake were also a major source of protein. Therefore, people naturally worshiped Lake Biwa, used its water with utmost respect and made sure they did not waste or pollute it.
In Hira district, the local people worshiped a huge array of Shinto deities from ancient times. As Buddhism gained more popularity, these Shinto deities merged with Buddhist belief. It is recorded that there used to be as many as 3,000 hermitages among the Hira mountains where the monks trained. Learn about the local people’s belief and life as you slowly pedal through the peaceful neighborhood.
Meeting farmers and participating in their seasonal activities such as planting or harvesting rice and vegetables offers a great chance to learn about farming life in rural Japan.
Depending on the season, fresh vegetables that you harvest will be added to your meal at lunchtime.
We can visit a woodcraft workshop and gallery in the area as an optional itinerary. *Reservation is required in advance. Please let us know when making a tour booking.
For lunch, you will visit a farming family's traditional Japanese-style home where you can learn how to cook delicious local dishes with homegrown fresh vegetables and rice. Menus are changed seasonally. Vegetarian dishes are also available.
You will also have the chance to learn about local delicacies such as homemade salted plum or pickles that are completely free from artificial preservatives and utterly delicious.
We hope the warm, touching hospitality you receive will stay with you as one of the fondest memories of your trip to Japan.
After lunch we will gently pedal back to JR Shiga Station, enjoying the breeze from the lake and reflecting on the day's events before returning by train with fond memories of a special adventure.
A short program about one on our tours was broadcasted on a local television channel.
The narration is in Japanese however you can turn on English subtitles.
Please view the beautiful surroundings of Lake Biwa and spend an intimate time with our friendly host family.