Visitor Guide

Temporary Information Relating to the Covid-19 Coronavirus

We are taking various measures to prevent the spread of the new Covid-19 coronavirus infection. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

Limit on the number of visitors - In order to ensure distance between visitors, we are restricting the number of people in the building to 500 people at one time, and 1920 people during one day. Groups (20 people and more) can make reservations by telephone for weekdays only.

Please note that Saturdays and Sundays are very busy.

Advanced reservations are required. More information below.

Shortening of opening times - Because cleaning and disinfection is done before opening and after closing, opening times are shortened to 10:00 to 17:00 (last admission 16:00).

Suspension of some exhibits - Entry to the three main exhibition rooms and the Aquarium have resumed, but a small number of hands-on exhibits are currently not being used. The Discovery Room is only open on weekdays.

Disinfection - Areas that are often touched, such as handrails, are disinfected by staff at regular intervals.

Request to visitors

• Please refrain from visiting if you have a fever, cough or feel unwell.

• Please be sure to wear a mask and follow cough etiquette.

• Before entering the building, be sure to disinfect hands with alcohol or hand washing.

• Please be aware that the museum cannot loan strollers, wheelchairs and audio guides at the current time.

• Please keep a safe distance from other visitors (1-2 m) as much as possible.

• Please do not touch display cases or aquarium tanks.

Advanced Reservations

To avoid overcrowding, all visitors are required to make reservations in advance.

Reservations can be made online for individuals, families and small groups (up to 19 people).

Larger groups (20 people and more) can make reservations by telephone (only for weekdays).

The online reservation system is in Japanese only, but an English guide to the reservation procedure is available.

Making a reservation online
During your visit
Changing or cancelling reservations

Reservations

English Guide to Reservations (PDF)

Opening Times

10:00 am to 5:00 pm, last entry at 4:00 pm.

Museum Holidays

The Museum is usually closed on Mondays, unless that day is a national holiday, and certain other times of the year (e.g. New Year holiday). Please consult the table to plan your visit.

Closed Days, April 2021 to March 2022
April: 12, 19, 26, 29, 30May: 1-11, 17, 24, 31June: 7, 14, 21, 28
July: 5, 12August: 2, 27-31September: 1-30
October: 4, 11, 18, 25November: 1, 8 15, 22, 29December: 6, 13, 20, 27-31
January: 1-3, 17-21, 24, 31February: 7, 14, 21, 28March: 7, 14

Admission Fees to Permanent Exhibition Rooms

Adults - 800 yen (640 yen each for groups of 20 or more)

University/High School Students - 450 yen (360 yen each for groups of 20 or more)

Elementary/ Junior High School Students - Free

Residents of Shiga Prefecture 65 years old or older - Free

Persons with disabilities - Free

Additional charges apply for some Special Exhibitions.

No ticket is necessary for the outdoor exhibits, including the treetop walk.

Getting Here by Public Transport

Train

Take the JR Biwako (Tokaido) line from Kyoto or Maibara (or any station on the Biwako line) to Kusatsu (Shiga) Station. Both local trains and Special Rapid Service trains stop at Kusatsu Station.

  • Kyoto to Kusatsu takes 20 or 23 minutes, depending on train service. (Distance 22.2 km/ 13.8 miles.)
  • Maibara to Kusatsu takes 32 or 44 minutes, depending on train service. (Distance 45.5 km/ 28.3 miles.)
At Kusatsu Station, take either a bus or a taxi to the Museum, located on the Karasuma Peninsula.

Bus

From the west side of Kusatsu station, buses depart for the museum from bus stop number 2. Look for a bus with the destination sign Biwako-haku-butsu-kan (Lake Biwa Museum or Biwako Museum):

Bus Timetable
Going to the MuseumReturning from the Museum
HourMondays to FridaysSaturdays, Sundays & Public Holidays HourMondays to FridaysSaturdays, Sundays & Public Holidays
8: 00, 50 00 8: 27 27
9: 30 30 9: 19, 59 59
10: 30 00, 30 10: 59 29, 59
11: 30 30 11: 59 59
12: 30 00, 30 12: 59 29, 54
13: 30 30 13: 59 59
14: 30 00, 30 14: 59 29, 59
15: 30 30 15: 59 59
16: 30 00, 30 16: 29, 54
17: 30 00 17: 30 29
18: 30 00, 30 18: 00, 59 24, 54
19: 00 19: 24

Journey time = 25 minutes.

For a detailed guide on how to catch a bus to the Museum, and buses in Japan generally, see a guide to catching a bus to the Museum.

Taxi

Taxis can be found at the taxi rank on the west side of Kusatsu Station (follow signs for "West Exit"). It takes approximately 20 minutes from Kusatsu Station to the Museum. Ask the driver for "Lake Biwa Museum" or "Biwako haku-butsu-kan".

Alternatively, take a taxi from Moriyama Station (two stations east from Kusatsu); Moriyama Station is closer to the Museum than Kusatsu Station, but there is no bus service to the Museum from Moriyama.

Getting Here by Car

Exit the Meishin Expressway at the Ritto Interchange and drive along the Ritto Shinanaka Route and the Lakeshore (Sazanami) Road (approximately 30 minutes). Parking is available.


Facilities

Museum Restaurant

Taste traditional Japanese cuisine or Western influenced dishes in the Museum Restaurant. The menu includes local produce, such as fish from Lake Biwa.

Opening times
Weekdays 11:00 am to 4:30 pm (food last orders 3:30 pm, drinks last orders 4:00 pm)
Weekends and holidays 11:00 am to 5:00 pm (food last orders 4:00 pm, drinks last orders 4:30 pm)

Museum Shop - Oydeya

A wide range of gifts and souvenirs are available at the Museum Shop - Oydeya, including unique merchandise to the Lake Biwa Museum.

A great place to find that special gift for someone, or for that exclusive memento of your trip to the Lake Biwa Museum.


Nursing Room

A room for families travelling with young children and babies is available.

Please consult with staff to use this room.

Mobility

The Museum is fully accessible to wheelchair users, and a selection of wheelchairs and baby strollers are available for use.

Please ask at the ticket counter.

Lunch & Resting Spaces

Visitors bringing there own food are welcome to use one of the Museum's lunch spaces, found both inside and outside of the building, including the roof-top terrace. Additionally, drink-vending machines and resting corners are available.

About the Museum

The Lake Biwa Museum is run by Shiga Prefectural Government and opened in October 1996. Since opening over 11 million people have visited the Museum. A major renewal of the Museum's exhibitions and aquarium occurred from 2015 to 2020, in three stages.

The Museum is a research institute, and employs around 30 researchers. While contributing to the running of the Museum, the researchers also study various aspects of Lake Biwa and other lakes of the world, including history, zoology, botany, geology, archaeology, and ethnology.

The Museum's aquarium, one of the largest freshwater aquariums in Japan, includes a conservation center, which breeds vulnerable and threatened species of fish.

The Museum is home to large collections of biological, geological and cultural specimens and artefacts, which are used for scientific research and exhibitions.

The total floor area of the main building is 23,987 m2, including exhibition space of 4,122 m2 and aquarium space of 1,984 m2.