Relentless overdevelopment is perhaps the fate of every big lake near a big city, and Lake Biwa is no different from Lake Balaton in Hungary when you walk for hours past gas stations, supermarkets, and apartment buildings in the hot sun. But also like Balaton it has its beautiful spots if you’re patient. In the shade of a wind-blown pine by a shrine, I watched the small, cerulean waves, and I could almost not hear the rumble of the highway.
That’s one wicked Skyline. I like Skylines. And who wouldn’t like a wicked Skyline?
As night fell, Lake Biwa shed its daytime vulgarity and regained its serenity. I walked on the shore, past great pines, star-lit wavelets lapping against the sand. The mountains left barely a gap for Highway 161, and when I reached the shrine after midnight, its great torii floating above the lake, I saw not what its builders had intended, but a reminder of industrial Japan. A non-stop rumble of trucks bisected the shrine, running right between its wooden buildings and the floating torii, and I wondered what the lake gods thought of us now.