Biwako, the largest lake in Japan, is renowned for its scenic natural beauty in all seasons, but the surrounding mountains are spectacular in autumn. No wonder then that it became a special place for both Buddhism and Shinto, and the lake is now ringed with many lovely temples and shrines that are also off the tourist track. The beauty of the lake was immortalized by famous ukiyoe artists like Utagawa Hiroshige, and some of these sites can still be visited today. The lake was also one of the historical gateways to Kyoto, and so was guarded with several castles. The last one of these still standing is Hikone Castle, one of the last twelve original-structure castles in Japan and one of only four designated a National Treasure. Escape the crowds with us to explore the gems of Lake Biwa.