|Biwako Line (琵琶湖線; Biwako-sen)|
|Location||Kyoto and Shiga Prefectures Prefecture(s)|
|Terminal Stations||Kyoto Station and Nagahama Station or Tsuruga Station|
|Major Stations||Maibara Station, Nagahama Station, Hikone Station, Omi-Hachiman Station, Kusatsu Station, Otsu Station, Yamashina Station, Kyoto Station|
|Train Types||Futsu, Kaisoku, Shin-kaisoku|
|Train Schedule||Schedule at JR West|
|Total Distance||75.4 km|
|Opened||The nickname "Biwako Line" was created in 1989. The train line itself opened in 1889.|
|Others||Other Railways in Shiga, Railways in Japan|
Popular name of the JR line between Kyoto Station (Kyoto) and Nagahama Station in Shiga Prefecture. The line is part of the Tokaido Main Line and Hokuriku Main Line. Some trains on the line go beyond Nagahama until Tsuruga Station in Fukui Prefecture.
After the demise of the samurai, railroad construction became a top-priority national project for Japan's modernization. The Meiji government's initial plan for railway construction in Japan actually included Shiga where they wanted a railway along Lake Biwa going to Tsuruga (Fukui). In 1877, a railway opened between Kobe, Osaka, and Kyoto. In 1880, Shiga's first railway opened between Otsu and Kyoto as part of a plan to connect Kobe and Tsuruga. Another segment opened between Nagahama and Tsuruga (port) in 1882. In 1889, the Tokaido Line was completed.
Incidentally, the railway built between Otsu and Kyoto was historic for having Japan's first tunnel bored through a mountain in Shiga. Called Ousaka-yama Tunnel (逢坂山トンネル), it is no longer used, but it is being preserved.
- Nagahama 長浜駅 - Major city in northern Shiga. Nagahama Castle.
- Tamura 田村駅 -
- Sakata 坂田駅 - Statue of Lord Yamauchi Kazutoyo and wife Chiyo.
- Maibara Station (米原駅) - Tokaido shinkansen bullet train stop and where the Tokaido/Biwako Line and Hokuriku Line intersect. You can transfer to the Hokuriku Line to travel to Fukui, Ishikawa, and Toyama Prefectures.
- Hikone Station (彦根駅) - One of Shiga's major cities and tourist bases with Hikone Castle, Hikone Port (for Chikubushima), and shrines and temples.
- Minami-Hikone Station (南彦根駅) - Viva City shopping center and movie theaters.
- Kawase Station (河瀬駅) -
- Inae Station (稲枝駅) -
- Notogawa Station (能登川駅) - Giant water wheel is the town's symbol, and the station's facade is also partially shaped like a water wheel. Bicycle rental at the station.
- Azuchi Station (安土駅) - Rent a bicycle and cycle to Azuchi Castle ruins, House of Nobunaga, and the archeaological museum. Bicycle rental in front of the station.
- Omi-Hachiman Station (近江八幡駅) - Another major tourist base with Hachiman-yama mountain for great views of the city and Lake Biwa, Suigo boat rides, Hachiman-bori moat which is the historical part of town, and buildings by the American architect Vories. Bicycle rental at the station.
- Shinohara Station (篠原駅) - Bicycle rental at recreational grounds Imose no Sato (雪野山史跡広場妹背の里) (0748-57-1819) until 5 pm.
- Yasu Station (野洲駅) - Mt. Mikami, Hyozu Taisha Shrine, and rice-planting festival in May. Bicycle rental at the south exit (Minami-guchi) at the Yasu Tourist Office (077−587−3710) until 5 pm (closed Mon.).
- Moriyama Station (守山駅) - Another stage town on the Nakasendo Road with noted shrines and temples mostly on the west side (toward the lake) of the station. The east side has little. Bicycle rental at the tourist office (077−514−3765) at the west exit until 7:30 pm. Also bicycle rental at Laforet Biwako (phone: 077-584-2180), a hotel on the lakeshore (accessible by bus from the station).
- Ritto Station (栗東駅) - Daiho Shrine is nearby on the west side of the station.
- Kusatsu Station (草津駅) - A former stage town on the Nakasendo Road. The Kusatsu-juku Honjin is a marvelous example of the luxury accomodations used by feudal lords and emperors when they traveled in the old days. Tourist info booth near turnstile. Bicycle rental (phone: 077−565-9052) at east exit street level.
- Minami-Kusatsu Station (南草津駅) -
- Seta Station (瀬田駅) - By bus, go to the "Bunka Zone" (Culture Zone) that has a Japanese garden, the Shiga Prefectural Library, and the The Museum of Modern Art, Shiga.
- Ishiyama Station (石山駅) - Ishiyama-dera Temple is a must-see and the Seta River and Seta Karahashi Bridge are also historic places. Ishiyama is also a Keihan streetcar stop which cuts through Otsu.
- Zeze Station (膳所駅) - Zeze Castle ruins. Also near to Otsu's shopping area.
- Otsu Station (大津駅) - Shiga's capital and a city with many important temples and shrines such as Enryakuji Temple, Ishiyama-dera Temple, Omi Jingu Shrine, Gichuji Temple (where Haiku poet Basho is buried), and a nice lakeshore. Bicycle rental at Otsu Port (Otsu Tourist Office).
- Yamashina Station (山科駅) - Kosei Line to western shores of Lake Biwa.
- Kyoto Station (京都駅) - Famous tourist destination.