Lake Biwa is the largest freshwater lake in Japan, so the tour books begin. It also supplies most of the water for the Kansai region, and if they can use the word "fresh" to describe the stuff coming out of my tap then something is definitely wrong somewhere. Or so I thought until I finally got around to cycling the lake - and found the northern end in particular to be practically unspoiled wilderness. Parts of the southwest coast, on the other hand, are a nightmare come true...
Apart from one hilly section up north, the road is flat and can easily be cycled in two days - and at least one cycling marathon has participants do it in a single day. Cycle-tourists don't need to push that hard; explore some of the towns along the way, see the castle at Hikone and the windmills nearby, and by all means don't forget your bathing suit if you're traveling during Japan's hot, muggy summer.

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