Welcome to the Biwako Music Festival official website!
We are a volunteer committee (琵琶湖周航の歌１００周年記念事業実行委員会) organizing the annual Biwako Music Festival (Biwako Ongakusai びわ湖音楽祭) held along Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture, Japan. Headed by Yukiko Kada, former governor of Shiga, our committee includes prominent people active in education, music, and water sports in Shiga. We work together with singer Tokiko Kato to produce the music festival.
The Biwako Music Festival is held to perpetuate Shiga’s beloved song Biwako Shuko no Uta (琵琶湖周航の歌 or Lake Biwa Rowing Song) to the younger generation, give local and young artists a chance to perform in public, and promote local culture, music, sports, and lake preservation.
Biwako Shuko no Uta is a song about rowing around Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest lake in Shiga. With six verses, the song goes around the lake clockwise as it mentions Shiga’s famous places and evokes beautiful scenery in vivid colors. Each verse takes you to a different place around the lake. The song is one of Kyoto University’s official songs and the official song of the Kyoto University Rowing Club because it was created by their rowing club members (especially Taro Oguchi) in 1917. They used the melody of another song composed by Chiaki Yoshida from Niigata Prefecture. (About the song in English here.)
In 1971, singer Tokiko Kato scored a major hit with Biwako Shuko no Uta, making it nationally famous. It was actually Ms. Kato’s idea to start this annual music festival. We are grateful for her help.
Our 1st Biwako Music Festival was held on June 30, 2017 at Biwako Hall in Otsu to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Biwako Shuko no Uta. It was held in conjunction with a successful four-day rowing excursion (Nazori Shuko) around Lake Biwa undertaken by Kyoto University Rowing Club alumni.
Like the song that takes us around the lake, the Biwako Music Festival will also travel around the lake every year. In 2018, the 2nd Biwako Music Festival was held in the Omi-Maiko and Wani area in western Otsu, the setting of verse 2.
2nd Biwako Music Festival (第2回びわ湖音楽祭)
The 2nd Biwako Music Festival had a few pre-events on April 21 and May 19–20, 2018 and the main event with a concert by Tokiko Kato on May 20. Click on the title links to see photos on the Japanese page.
Kayak Tour on the Lake (Max. 20 persons)
When: April 21, 2018, 10:00 am–12:00 pm
Where: Hira to Omi-Maiko, Map here
Cost: ¥2,000 (For reservations, email to firstname.lastname@example.org )
*To be canceled in case of rain.
Street Concerts (Machinaka Concert)
Local artists and music groups from local schools will perform. Reed flutes, Taisho-goto, violin, and more.
When: May 19, 2018, 12:00 pm–5:30 pm
Where: Heiwado Wani Branch, Map here
Sunrise Kayak Tour on Lake Biwa
Camp overnight, bake pastries, setup tents, learn how to kayak (beginners welcome), dinner, and learn how to sing Lake Biwa Rowing Song in English. On the next morning at 4:30 am, leave shore for sunrise kayaking. After breakfast, more kayaking from 10 am to noon to Wani. Price includes a concert ticket to see Tokiko Kato on May 20.
When: From 1:00 pm on May 19 to 4:30 pm on May 20, 2018.
Where: BSC Watersports Centre, Map here
Cost: ¥18,000 to ¥21,000 depending on accommodations type.
Contact BSC Watersports Centre for more details: email@example.com or call 077-592-0127
Tokiko Kato Concert
The concert featured mini concerts by local artists in the lobby at 12:15 pm–1:30 pm, Shiga Junior High School band, Konan Dance Workshop, and ~Lefa~.
When: May 20, 2018, 2:00 pm–4:30 pm (main concert)
Where: Otsu City Wani Culture Center, Map here
Thank you to everyone who attended!
3rd Biwako Music Festival (第3回びわ湖音楽祭)
The 3rd Biwako Music Festival was held in Takashima at the Takashima Shimin Kaikan large hall (高島市民会館) in Imazu on June 13, 2021.
4th Biwako Music Festival (第4回びわ湖音楽祭)
The 4th Biwako Music Festival was held in Nagahama at the Nagahama Cultural Arts Hall (長浜文化芸術会館) on June 12, 2022.
5th Biwako Music Festival (第5回びわ湖音楽祭)
The 5th Biwako Music Festival was held in Hikone at the Hikone Culture Plaza (ひこね市文化プラザ) on June 11, 2023.
6th Biwako Music Festival (第6回びわ湖音楽祭)
There are plans to hold the 6th Biwako Music Festival in Omi-Hachiman in 2024. Date and venue to be announced later.
=== Biwako Shuko no Uta Song Monuments ===
There is a song monument for each of the six verses and monuments for the entire song.
Verse 1 Monument (Otsu): From JR Otsu Station, take a bus to Mihogasaki. It’s about 10 min. Or you can easily walk it from Hama-Otsu Station. Just walk on the main road toward the race boat arena. There will be a small marina on the right. Right after passing the marina, turn right into the small road. There will be a small park on the right. The monument is there. There are two stone monuments. It might be roped off and you’re not supposed to enter the park. While you’re there, walk around the marina and see the boathouse with the cherry blossom logo with three stripes. That’s the logo of the school and the place where the boys left for the rowing trip in 1917. Otsu Station also has a tourist information office where you can obtain directions and a map.
Verse 2 Monument (Omi-Maiko): Near Omi-Maiko Station on the JR Kosei Line. After exiting the station, walk left toward Kitahama. Then get to the lake shore and walk along the lakeshore road until you see the monument under a large tree right on the shore. It is in front of Hotel Biwa Lake Otsuka.
Verse 3 Monument and song museum (Imazu): Near Omi-Imazu Station on the JR Kosei Line. Get out the east exit and walk on the main road toward the lake. You will soon see the Biwako Shuko no Uta Shiryokan song museum on the left. Be sure to visit this museum too. Walk further toward the lake and you will see Imazu Port. Near the water, you can see the “red fire” song monument. On the very end of the pier, and you can see the lamp monument. (The pier might be closed off if there is no boat, so you may have to ask permission to walk on the pier.) Omi-Imazu Station also has a tourist information office where you can obtain directions and a map.
Verse 3 Monument (Nagahama): Near Nagahama Castle in Hokoen Park. Short walk from Nagahama Station. The newest song monument unveiled on June 25, 2017 as a park bench made of glass.
Verse 4 Monument (Chikubushima): From Imazu Port, Hikone Port, or Nagahama Port, take a boat to Chikubushima island. The monument is right near the pier on the island. Hikone Port is accessible by bus from JR Hikone Station, and Nagahama Port is walkable from JR Nagahama Station. Imazu Port is a short walk from JR Omi-Imazu Station.
Verse 5 Monument (Hikone): From JR Hikone Station on the JR Biwako Line, take a bus to Hikone-ko Port. The monument is behind the boat terminal (where boats to Chikubushima embark) near the lake shore. If you visit the castle on the same day, you can walk to the port from the castle. Hikone Station also has a tourist information office where you can obtain directions and a map.
Verse 6 Monuments (Chomeiji, Omi-Hachiman): From Omi-Hachiman Station on the JR Biwako Line, take a bus to Chomeiji. Takes about 20 min. Omi-Hachiman Station has a tourist information office where you can obtain directions and a map. You can also rent a bicycle at the station and follow the map to Chomeiji Port. The monument is in a small park in front of the port near the Chomeiji bus stop. The other Verse 6 monument is within the Chomeiji temple grounds. Climb the 800 steps (quite strenuous) to the temple or call a taxi to drive up near the top.
Oguchi Taro Song Monument (Okaya, Nagano): Short walk from JR Okaya Station. Walk toward the shore of Lake Suwa. The monument is near the mouth of Tenryu River. See map above (scroll to Nagano Prefecture).