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Update: June 10, 2013

Lake Biwa

Lake Biwa Lake Biwa

Lake Biwa, with four million years of history, is one of the world’s precious few ancient lakes. Its water plays an important role in industry, in agriculture, and in supporting the lives of 14 million people throughout western Japan. Lake Biwa is also home to many living creatures. It is visited annually by 60,000 water fowls, fosters over 50 species of fish and 40 species of shellfish, and is home to rare creatures not found anywhere else, such as the willow gudgeon and isaza.

Endemic Species of Lake Biwa
Willow gudgeon
Willow gudgeon (En)
Honmoroko (Jp)
Isaza (Jp)


map of lake biwa

summary of lake biwa

Surface area

Approximately 670 km²

About one sixth of Shiga’s total area


Approximately 27.5 billion m³

Despite a steady flow of water in and out of the lake, the water is said to take over 19 years to replace itself

Average depth

Approximately 41 m


Shore length

Approximately 235 km

Equal to the distance between Otsu, Shiga and Hamamatsu, Shizuoka

Maximum width

22.8 km

Between Aiba in Shinasahi, Takashima and Shimosakahama, Nagahama

Minimum width

1.35 km

Near the Biwako-ohashi Bridge. The region north of the bridge is called Hokko (North Lake), which is 11 times larger in area than the region south of the bridge, Nanko (South Lake).

Maximum depth

Approximately 104m

Near the mouth of the Ado River