Biwaichi: A 60 Year Old Japanese Biohacker Challenges Cycling Around Japan’s Biggest Lake in One Day



The Ikigai Diet and Ikigai Bio-Hacking


Yesterday, I cycled around Lake Biwa, the biggest lake in Japan.

We call it Biwaichi, and it is popular among cyclists. It is often featured in cycling magazines, and many cyclists want to try it once in their lifetime.

I had wanted to do it for many years now but never had the chance, partly because it would take two days to do it.

As part of my 60-year-old birthday commemorating events, I decided to do it in one day. It was convenient for me to do it in one day and made it challenging enough for the occasion.

Plus, I did it on a mountain bike, not a road bike.


There is this blue line drawn all the way. Shiga Prefecture is promoting Biwaichi, and they drew this line on the road around the lake. The cyclist just needs to follow the line, and you can do it without the map.


There are two courses, and this one is the slow speed course. It is for beginners or people who want to cycle slowly.


This is the fast-speed course for experienced cyclists. It is on the main road where cars run. The slow-speed course is on the pavement.

Because I was on a mountain bike, I cycled on the slow-speed course. In fact, I was much slower than regular cyclists. Most of them ride on their road bikes, and they keep passing me one after another. I didn’t realize there was such a significant difference between a mountain bike and a road bike, but a road bike runs twice as fast as a mountain bike, and I would have been blocking their way if I had run on the fast speed course.

Well, I am a beginner anyway. It was my fast time to do Biwaich or any long-distance cycling. I go Satoyama cycling, but it is around 10 kilometers round trip. The longest cycling I had ever done was Hinoichi, cycling around Hino Town, and it was around 36 kilometers.

Hinoichi Satoyama Cycling

I was happy to cycle on the slow-speed course because it was safer, quieter, and there was less air pollution.  I did cycle on the fast speed course a little bit when the slow speed course merged with the fast course at occasional spots, and it was scary when a car passed by you, and it happens all the time, not like Hinoich where a car passes by you only once every half hour or so.


I started in Notogawa, which is the nearest part of the lake from Hino. I left there a little after 7 AM. It took me 2 hours to get to Nagahama, which is famous for Nagahama Castle. Around there, my legs started getting sore.

When I did Hinoich Satoyama Nordic walking two weeks ago, after 20 kilometers, my legs got sore, and it was exactly the same feeling as that time.  From where I started in Notogawa to Nagahama Castle was about 30 kilometers. From then on, endurance began. In Hinoich Nordic walking, the endurance began just at a half point and continued for 6 hours, but this time I was still in the beginning part of my journey.

When I arrived in Kohoku, the northern area, there was the first uphill at around 50 kilometers point. Since I had done Hinoich, which had a lot of ups and downs, I was used to cycling uphill, but my legs were already dead, and it felt like hell.


Finally, I came to the other side of the lake, the Kosei area, the west side. 6 hours had passed, and at this point, I felt Biwaichi was much harder than Hinoichi. I thought Hnoichi was harder because there were more ups and downs, but the distance was much longer in Biwaichi. The lake looked immense. I knew it was the biggest lake in Japan, but I didn’t think it was this big. Driving around the lake and cycling around it was completely different. Now I realized how gigantic the lake was.

There were a lot of scenic spots from the Kohoku to the Kosei area, but I couldn’t enjoy it. All I could think of was when it would end.

I then understood why most people did it in two days. Yes, if I could have finished it at that point, around 80 kilometers, and stayed at a lodge somewhere, it would have been so nice.


  This is a windmill village in Takashima. It was 2:30 in the afternoon.  7 and half hours have passed. I must have cycled close to 90 or 100 kilometers. That meant I still had another 60 or 50 kilometers left. You know, the longest cycling I had ever done was 36 kilometers.


Then, I came to Shirahige Shrine. Later on, I checked the distance, and it was around 110 kilometers.

Shirahige Shrine worships a god of longevity, and it is one of the most popular power spots in the Kinki region. I wanted to pray at the shrine, but I was too tired to cross the road and climb up the steps to visit the main shrine. There were a lot of people, too, and I didn’t have the energy to go through all the hustle. I just prayed at the Torii gate.


I thought it wouldn’t take that long to come to Biwako Big Bridge from Shirahige Shrine, but it felt like an endless journey. By the time I got to the bridge, it was 5:46, and the day was slowly coming to an end. Once I cross the bridge and get to the other side of the lake, there is  PIERI MORIYAMA, where many people begin and end Biwaich.

For many of them, it was the time to celebrate. The goal was in front of you. But for me, it wasn’t the end. I would have to cycle another 20 some kilometers.

And that final 24 or 5 kilometers was the toughest. I mean, basically, after Nagsahama Castle, it was the same, endless endurance, but the last part was when I couldn’t take it anymore. It was getting dark, too, which made you feel even more rushed. I wanted to rest, just stop moving my legs, but there was no time for it.

It took me two hours from Biwako Big Bridge to my destination in Notogawa.

Wow! It was quite something. It was harder than 47 kilometers Hinoichi Nordic walking.

It says 42 kilometers, but I ended up walking 47 kilometers.

Biwaich was the toughest challenge I have ever done.

If you watch the video, you can see I could hardly speak in the last section.

Well, one thing I learned is never to do it on a mountain bike. The weight is different, the handles are different, and the tires are different, and it makes a big difference if you cycle 150 kilometers. The second thing is not to do it in one day. If you do it in two days, you can enjoy the scenery and stop at certain spots for a longer period.

If you like endurance, do it. In that sense, it served the purpose.  I did it for the 60-year-old birthday commemorating challenge to test my fitness level. It certainly was a test for my mental strength, and it was a breakthrough and initiation.

I finally did it.

Happy 60 years old!




The Ikigai Diet and Ikigai Bio-Hacking