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Biwako Terrace: Get a Breathtaking View of Lake Biwa - Japan’s largest lake!

Biwako Terrace: Get a Breathtaking View of Lake Biwa - Japan’s largest lake!

Date published: 13 December 2019
Last updated: 10 September 2020

Biwako Terrace is a popular spot from where you can get a breathtaking bird's eye view of the magnificent Lake Biwa, Japan's largest lake. Here we'll show you around the Biwako Terrace area so you can see why it's such a fun place to visit!

Table of Contents
  1. Where is Biwako Terrace?
  2. Japan’s fastest ropeway takes you to the 1,100-meter summit
  3. Biwako Terrace almost feels like it is floating in the sky!
  4. The cafe menu overflows with originality
  5. Book an unforgettable experience around Biwako Terrace!

Where is Biwako Terrace?

Completed in July 2016, Biwako Terrace is an observation terrace with a cafe. Biwako Terrace was constructed at the summit of Biwako Valley where a variety of activities can be enjoyed all year round.

It takes about 40 minutes by car from the Kyoto Higashi IC of the Meishin Expressway and if you go by train, about 10 minutes by bus from the JR Kosai Line Shiga Station.

Japan’s fastest ropeway takes you to the 1,100-meter summit

To get to the Biwako Terrace you must first take the ropeway at the foot of Biwako Valley.

It only takes about 5 minutes to reach the 1,100-meter summit. Moving at a speed of 12 meters per second it is the fastest ropeway in Japan! (Winter only. Between spring and autumn, the speed is reduced to allow for more leisurely sightseeing.)

▲Tickets can be purchased at the entrance. Round-trip fare is 2,500 yen for adults, 1,000 yen for elementary school aged children, and 600 yen for 3-year-olds and older (all fares include tax).
▲ Between April and November it is also possible to take dogs on the ropeway, the fare being 500 yen per dog, tax included. Dogs must be in cages on the ropeway and cages are available at no charge.
▲A ropeway car can accommodate a maximum of 121 people. The entrance is quite spacious.

The ropeway operates on weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with cars departing approximately every 15 minutes. (Times are different during the ski season.)

It is 782 meters from the boarding station to the summit, so there is a temperature difference. The temperature at the summit is about 5 ~ 7 degrees lower than at the base, so you are advised to take a coat or other apparel to ward off the cold.

The cabins are enclosed in glass and offer a 360-degree view. As the car ascends, you are afforded a panoramic view of Lake Biwa.

▲On a fine day the surface of the lake shimmers in the sunlight.
▲This is ideal for taking pictures!

The mountains on the opposite side of Lake Biwa are covered in forests which in spring sport cherry blossoms and in summer verdant greens...the views in each season are excellent.

▲ This photograph was taken in early November, the best time for viewing autumn leaves

I found the views from the ropeway to be most exhilarating, and the views from here are even more impressive. Most enjoyable!

Biwako Terrace almost feels like it is floating in the sky!

When you arrive at the summit the temperature will be noticeably cooler. But the clear, cold air is quite exhilarating and with rising anticipation of viewing the broad scene below, I headed past the signboard pointing the way.

▲ This is the entrance. Just beyond the signboard

A magnificent view awaits you! Lake Biwa, the surrounding mountains, and the sky are a gradation of pale blues.

Proceeding forward I arrived at the wide-open terrace. The terrace has three levels, but in winter (December ~ March) only the Grand Terrace is open.

▲ The sky and Lake Biwa look exactly as though there were connected

On a fine day you can see Abeno Harukas in Osaka to the west and in the east, Mount Hakusan, a sacred mountain in the Hokuriku region. The day I visited I was able to see the snowcapped Mount Hakusan.

▲Sitting on a chair on the wooden deck, the view felt like it was mine alone. Such a feeling of luxury!

This was the perfect place to take a panoramic photo. Can you see the outline of Lake Biwa?

From this terrace you can see about 80% of all of Lake Biwa. A visitor from Shiga Prefecture remarked, “So this is the actual shape of Lake Biwa!” He seemed quite surprised.

▲The people on the lower deck are waiting for the cafe to open. Many of the visitors had very professional-looking cameras.

In winter Biwako Valley operates as a ski area and more than half of the visitors in winter come for skiing. Among employees, it seems that this place has been famous for being where you can secretly see a wonderful view.

Before there used to be only a small observation deck here, but because so many visitors said that they wished they could enjoy the panoramic view of Lake Biwa all year round it inspired the creation of the Biwako Terrace.

The concept for the interior of the cafe was “a mountain resort for adults” and the stylish furnishings along with the relaxed atmosphere have achieved that.

▲ The sophistication shown in the design made by domestic designers is evident everywhere.

The views are not only magnificent from the decks outside but also from indoors as well. Electrical outlets near each of the tables is also a nice addition. They make it easier for those who wish to share their experiences on SNS. And that pleases many.

▲ The view here is so magnificent that it is easy to forget the time.

The cafe menu overflows with originality

Only local ingredients are used in the dishes here.

Take for example the tea.

Did you know that Shiga Prefecture was the place where tea was first cultivated in Japan? About 1,200 years ago, Dengyodaishi Saicho brought tea back from Tang China and sowed it in this area which was called Omi at that time and that was the beginning of tea cultivation in Japan.

The sharp differences in temperature between day and night in the Omi region made it ideally suited for tea cultivation and the tea from this area is noted for its rich flavor. I recommend trying the Wakocha [Japanese black tea] made from fermented Omi tea.

▲ Omi Wakocha (500 yen, tax included). The tea bags (set of 3 for 390 yen, tax included) also make great gifts.

Also very popular are the gelato made with Omi Wakocha and Omi brown rice tea!

▲Seven flavors offered are including milk and rum raisin (450 yen for a single scoop, 600 yen for a double scoop, tax included in both prices)

The cups are filled to the top.

▲ The Omi Wakocha is on the left. The gelato is made with milk from the local Kokabu Ranch and has a rich, gentle sweet flavor.
▲The Omi brown rice tea gelato has an elegant tea flavor. Its clean, fresh taste makes it widely popular.
▲Savoring the moment.

Why not visit and admire Lake Biwa from the sky with the coming of spring?

Biwako Terrace is so popular that there might be long lines waiting to get in depending on the time. It is especially crowded on weekdays when the weather is nice, so I recommend you try to visit during the morning hours. I’m sure that you would enjoy spending time here on a fine day.

  • Biwako Terrace
    びわ湖テラス
    • Address 1547-1 Kido, Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture
    • Phone Number 077-592-1155
    • Cafe hours: weekdays 10:30 a.m. ~ 4:00 p.m., Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays 10:00 a.m. ~ 4:00 p.m. * Food is served from 11:00 a.m., last order is at 3:00 p.m.
      Outside deck hours: weekdays 9:30 a.m. ~ 5:00 p.m., Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays; summer holidays 9:00 a.m. ~ 5:00 p.m.
      * Days and times may change depending on the season
      Closed: open daily

  • Biwako Valley Ropeway
    びわ湖バレイロープウェイ
    • Address 1547-1 Kido, Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture
    • Phone Number 077-592-1155
    • Hours: weekdays 9:30 a.m. ~ 5:00 p.m., Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays; August 9:00 a.m. ~ 5:00 p.m. ※ times differ during the ski season
      Admission: Adults 2,500 yen, elementary school age 1,000 yen, children (3 years and older) 600 yen, dogs 500 yen (must use cage) *Prices are for round trip fares, all include tax
      Closed: open daily (*Closed a number of times in the year at set times)

* The menu, service, and hours mentioned were those at the time this report was made, and are subject to change.
Text by: Ishihara Ai

Book an unforgettable experience around Biwako Terrace!

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*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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