BIWA, a lake in the province of Omi, Japan. It measures 36 m. in length by 12 m. in extreme breadth, has an area of 180 sq. m., is about 330 ft. above sea-level, and has an extreme depth of some 300 ft. There are a few small islands in the lake, the principal being Chikubu-shima at the northern end.
Tradition alleges that Lake Biwa and the mountain of Fuji were produced simultaneously by an earthquake in 286 B.C. On the west of the lake the mountains Hiei-zan and Hira-yama slope down almost to its margin, and on the east a wide plain extends towards the boundaries of the province of Mino. It is drained by a river flowing out of its southern end, and taking its course into the sea at Osaka. This river bears in succession the names of Seta-gawa, Uji-gawa and Yodo-gawa. The lake abounds with fish, and the beauty of its scenery is remarkable. Small steamboats ply constantly to the points of chief interest, and around its shores are to be viewed the Omi-no-hakkei, or "eight landscapes of Omi"; namely, the lake silvering under an autumn Moon as one looks down from Ishi-yama; the snow at eve on Hira-yama; the glow of sunset at Seta; the groves and classic temple of Mii-dera as the evening bell sounds; boats sailing home from Yabase; cloudless peaks at Awazu; rain at nightfall over Karasaki; and wild geese sweeping down to Katata. The lake is connected with Kyoto by a canal constructed in 1890, and is thus brought into water communication with Osaka.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)