Work on a Japanese farm & have lunch with the locals at Lake Biwa

Experience a Japanese agricultural lifestyle at UNESCO wetland site Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest freshwater lake (and crucial habitat for its fish and water birds). Pedal your electric bike along beautiful lakeside tracks and through ancient villages, and meet the people who farm this landscape; they’ll show you how to help with a little planting or harvesting. Once you’ve got your hands dirty (and washed them again, of course!), you’ll get the rare opportunity to visit a local Biwan family for a delicious home-grown, home-cooked lunch.

What to expect from the Lake Biwa experience

Lake Biwa is a vast and beautiful freshwater lake which stretches north-east from Kyoto. It’s an important breeding ground for edible fish, and about 15 million Japanese people depend on it for drinking water - which goes some way to explain its UNESCO status! Wildlife depends on Biwa, too, with around 1,000 documented species either making it their home or dropping by during migration.

The landscape around Biwa has been farmed for centuries, and to begin this half day experience you’ll set off on a guided cycling tour through the peaceful streets of Shiga, a town on Biwa’s western shore, before heading off along well made lakeside tracks, which will take you through ancient villages on your way to meet the farmers.

Peddle (with a little help, if need be, from your bike’s battery!) through the rice terraces and stop off at the farm, where you’ll talk to the farmers and learn about life in the local agricultural community, before being shown how to help with seasonal activities such as planting and harvesting.

You’ll join in for a while - you can’t stand around idle for long when you’re a farmer! - before getting back in the saddle and heading out into the countryside to find lunch.

Follow your guide to the home of a local family, where you’ll help your hostess to cook an authentic chicken sukiyaki, a traditional hotpot dish developed during the Meiji era.

You’ll prepare the dish using locally grown rice and homegrown veg from the family’s garden, and it’ll be accompanied by regional specialties such as sour plums pickled by the hostess herself (there’s a tongue-twister in there somewhere!).

After lunch, you’ll cycle gently back to Shiga with a full belly, a lake breeze to keep you cool and the impressive Hira mountain range in the background.

Location: Lake Biwa, Japan

Duration: 4.5 hours

Accommodation: Your choice of Lake Biwa accommodation

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We say...

'This is a rare chance to spend time with a Biwan family and enjoy the warm hospitality of a rural Japanese household, not to mention giving you a unique culinary experience!'