Ostracod Research at the Lake Biwa Museum, Japan

Robin James Smith

Lake Biwa

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The Lake Biwa Museum and the Karasuma Peninsula, in the south basin of Lake Biwa, viewed from the water. The museum opened in 1996 and over 10 million people have since visited. Lake Biwa is one of the world's few ancient lakes, with a history stretching back four million years. (28 October 2013)
The Karasuma Peninsula, the Lake Biwa Museum (center) and the Mizu no Mori aquatic botanical gardens (next to the wind turbine). The peninsula is partly reclaimed land. (12 May 2010)
Rice fields adjacent to the Karasuma Peninsula. Water for the rice fields is pumped up from Lake Biwa, and then drained backed into the lake. (12 May 2010)
The south basin of Lake Biwa, viewed from in front of the Lake Biwa Museum. In the winter the lake is an important overwintering site for many waterfowl. (18 January 2008)
The capital of Shiga Prefecture, the city of Otsu, located at the southern end of Lake Biwa. About 1.4 million people live in Shiga. The anchor-shaped structures in the lake are 'eri' fishing traps. The small, rounded peninsula covered with trees is the old site of Zeze Castle (1601-1870). (12 May 2010)
Yabase Island, an artificial island built in 1980 at the southern end of Lake Biwa to accommodate a sewerage treatment works and a park. 14 million people rely on Lake Biwa and its outflowing river system for tap water, including most of the cities of Kyoto and Osaka. (12 May 2010)
An old eri fish trap in the early morning mist, along the lakeshore of Yabase Island. This fishing method dates back about 1,500 years to the Kofun Period (250-538 CE). There are about 120 eri fish traps still in use in Lake Biwa. (10 February 2018)
Agricultural greenhouses either side of the Kusatsu River, which flows into the south basin of Lake Biwa. Agriculture is a source of pollution for the lake. (12 May 2010)
The 'Biwako Ohashi' toll bridges, two parallel bridges that span the narrowest point of Lake Biwa. They are 1.4 km in length, and reach a maximum height of 26.3 m above the lake.  (12 May 2010)
The Biwako Ohashi toll bridges, viewed from the water. The first bridge was opened in September 1964, and the second in July 1994 to accommodate increases in traffic. They currently carry about 35,000 vehicles a day. (27 August 2015)
The old part of the fishing village Katata, situated at the narrowest part of the lake. In the past, the fishermen of Katata were feared for their naval skills and were known as the pirates of the lake.  (12 May 2010)
A water-quality monitoring station, in the north basin. Water quality started to deteriorate in the 1960's, resulting in algal blooms and red tides. Since then local residents and the local government have strived to improve the water quality, mostly by banning synthetic washing powders and improving the sewerage system. (28 October 2013)
Sport fishing is popular in Lake Biwa, attracting many visitors to the area. The main target is largemouth bass, an invasive species from North America, which was illegally released into the lake during the early 1970s. A ferocious predator, it eats the native fish, damaging the lake's ecosystem. (28 October 2013)
The paddle steamer <i>Michigan</i> cruises into port during the Otsu summer firework festival. Shiga Prefecture is a popular tourist destination, with over 52 million people visiting tourist sites in the prefecture during 2017. <br>(1 August 2014)
The fishing village on Okishima, the largest island in Lake Biwa. About 250 people live on the island, which covers 1.51 km<sup>2</sup>, and reaches 225 m above sea level. (8 October 2018)
One of the narrow roads on Okishima. The island is car-free, with tricycles the favoured mode of transport. (8 October 2018)
Fishing boats in the habour of Okishima. Most residents make a living by fishing, but tourists also bring revenue to the island. (8 October 2018)
The island of Chikubushima, in the north part of Lake Biwa. The island is made of granite, reaches 197 m above sea level (108 m above the surface of the lake), and covers an area of 0.15 square km. (12 May 2010)
The island of Chikubushima, in the north part of Lake Biwa. On the southern side of the island there is Tsukubusuma Shrine, established in 420 AD, and Hogon-ji Temple, which dates back to 724 AD. (12 May 2010)
Approaching the island of Chikubushima from the water.<br> (4 June 2012)
The Dekejima Lighthouse, in Kakata, Lake Biwa. The lighthouse is 8 meters tall, and was built in 1875 in response to the capsizing of a passenger ship offshore that resulted in 47 people losing their lives. It was used up to 1951 and was restored in 1973. (22 November 2012)
Fujigasaki Ryujin (Dragon God) Shrine on the shores of the southern end of the north basin of Lake Biwa. (25 June 2018)
The northern end of Lake Biwa. Off the headland in the distance, lots of pottery was discovered dating from 8000 years ago through to 800 years ago. The pottery appears to have been deliberately thrown into the same place of the lake over thousands of years, but the reasons remain a mystery. (10 September 2010)
A cormorant flies over the lake. In the spring of 2010 the population was estimated to be about 23,000. Due to the damage to trees caused by breeding colonies, and the large amounts of commercially important fish that cormorants eat (1,700 tons in 2010), they are regularly culled.  (10 September 2010)
Houses along the shore of the north basin. About two-thirds of the 235 km (146 miles) long lakeshore has been artificially modified. (3 October 2006)
The sand forming the many beaches around the lake comes from the surrounding granitic mountains.<br>(18 September 2013)
Mount Okujima (425m), porphyritic granodiorite and rhyolitic welded tuff protruding through the flat fluvial sediments of the eastern plain. The rocky lakeshore provides a distinctive habitat for some of the endemic species living in the lake, including the giant Biwa catfish. (12 May 2010)
Mouth of the Adogawa River, which flows into the western side of the north basin of Lake Biwa. There are 118 rivers flowing into the lake, but only one natural outlet, the Seta River at the southern end of the lake.  (12 May 2010)
The Seta River, the only natural outflow of Lake Biwa. The river flows through Osaka and discharges into Osaka Bay. (12 May 2010)
The Seta Bridge, the oldest crossing point of the Seta River. In the past this bridge carried the main road from Tokyo to Kyoto, and therefore was strategically important, resulting in battles for its control. One famous battle, between two princes fighting for control of Japan, took place around and on the bridge in the year 672. (30 October 2012)