A beautiful beach on the shores of Japan's most famous lake.
Omi-Maiko, a scenic and pristine beach on Lake Biwa, provides an ideal escape from the city’s hot and sticky summers. Only an hour from Osaka and 30 minutes from Kyoto by train but remote enough to feel far from the urban grind, it’s the perfect spot for sunbathing, swimming, and beach barbecues.
Sandwiched between Kyoto and Shiga prefectures (but belonging to the latter), Lake Biwa, or Biwa-ko, is quite literally huge. At 258.8 square miles, it’s the largest freshwater lake in Japan. It’s also one of the world’s 20 oldest lakes– still going strong at almost 4 million years old.
Omi-Maiko is Lake Biwa’s most accessible and popular beach. It’s comprised of a long stretch of sand and pebble-covered beach tucked beside a grove of fir trees. The Hira Mountains tower above from one side, while the lake stretches into the distance on the other.
The further you walk down the beach, the less crowded it gets, but even on a busy weekend the water is surprisingly clean and the beach serene. There are barbecue pits scattered along the sand which you can use for free (bring your own charcoal and fuel) and a few mom-and-pop shops that sell beer, ice cream, and other summer treats. The stores sell a limited amount of (somewhat overpriced) Japanese food so if you want to picnic, bring your own food as the nearest 7-11 is a 35-minute walk away.
There’re also a few stores selling inflatable water toys and you can get your own inner tube inflated for 100 yen. Multiple free public restrooms mean you don’t have to get all Bear Grylls in the woods too.