Take the Road
Less Traveled
to Experience the Rich
Rural Culture of Lake Biwa.

Take the Road
Less Traveled
to Experience the
Rich Rural Culture
of Lake Biwa.

Refresh with Nature

Perfect getaway from the city to explore the rich rural environment of Lake Biwa and surrounding mountains.

Support Culture

As traditions and crafts slowly disappear, we work to support this local lifeblood.

Enjoy Local Life

Our guides are also local residents, working to give an immersive experience of local life.

Just 20 min. from Kyoto by Shinkansen!

Meet your guide right at JR Maibara Station!

Featured Tour Courses

Perfect Kyoto Daytrip off the Beaten Path on Strictly Private Tours!

Unique local tours through the authentic countryside of Japan with immersive experiences for adventurous travelers. Discover charming villages and refreshing nature on our mountain bike or e-bike cycling tours. Explore scenic brewery towns or hidden artisanal villages on walking and hiking tours, or immerse yourself in local food with cooking workshops. Our mission is to ensure the sustainability of our local culture, while providing unforgettable experiences!

One-Day Courses

Half-Day Courses

Explore More of Northern Shiga

Custom Private Tours

History & Culture

Local Foods

Mountain Hiking

In addition to our featured tours, we’re also happy to show you more of our favorite local spots on a custom tour course. Go on a sacred mountain hike, visit an island sanctuary within Lake Biwa, and more. Flexible itineraries designed around your interests, and guided by our local experts for a truly special experience.

Custom Tours

from our guests


April 16, 2023
Great rural ebike tour Highlight of our trip!I wanted to experience rural Japan culture during our recent family trip. Understanding other cultures is a large part of why I travel, and just seeing the popular sights doesn't capture that on it's own for me. So I went searching on the internet and found Bawako Backroads and I'm so glad i did!Things like this can be challenging since I have a very high energy 11 year old and a moody 13 year old, but Tako & our guide Ryo did splendidly. My wife eats on the keto diet and they were accommodating for that during the cooking session too, which is a feat.We customized a full day tour of the countryside to include an ebike ride, a visit to a local farm, cooking a meal, and visiting a temple. During each one our guide would talk about various aspects of Japanese culture - in a way that actually engaged our picky girls - and even had a binder with illustrations prepared. So cool. Tako is also a great communicator and very organized when customizing the tour and having a clear itinerary.Ryo was a wonderful guide - very knowledgeable and so kind. She even invited us into her home!They also suprised us by having a birthday cake made for my daughter since it was her birthday on the day of our tour - all without asking - and we got to meet the main chef at the bakery!If you are looking to experience rural Japan, do not hesitate and reach out to Bawako now.
May 1, 2020
A highlight of our trip! This tour of Kinomoto was fantastic and a true highlight of our family trip to Japan. We especially enjoyed learning about brewing soy sauce at Tomita Shuzo (and we savor the delicious bottle that we brought home with us) plus seeing all the frogs and doing the pitch dark maze at Kinomoto Jizoin. Most of our trip was otherwise in large cities so it was rewarding to gain new perspective visiting this small town and interacting with local artisans. Our guide was excellent and provided insight and access we never would have discovered on our own. I highly recommend this experience!
Mads H
Mads H
April 8, 2020
"Beautiful Adventure" This tour is fantastic and a lot of fun. The guides are all very friendly and knowledgable about the area. If you're interested in having a more personal tour or having a more local experience in Japan this is a must do. Don't be afraid to ask your guide if you want to stop somewhere along the tour to take pictures or pop in a shop quickly
Frédéric M.
Frédéric M.
April 7, 2020
Breath-taking sights A friend and I decided to go on the tour, not knowing what to expect from it. Turns out it was one of the highlights of our trip! The guide showed us things that we would have never seen otherwise, we were given homemade traditional snacks and beverages, we were lucky enough to see wild monkeys... We couldn't have asked for more! Definitely recommended.
H & L
H & L
March 31, 2020
Fabulous Day getting truely local In Feb 2020 we arranged a private tour initery and went to Kinomoto as part of our schedule. Thanks Biwako Backroads for a wonderful day. The pace of our schedule was perfect for us (50s), our guides knowledgeable and charming. This was one of our most interesting days in Japan, as we really felt we we experiencing local areas, sites and business that we would never have found on our own, and got to do it all with guides who spoke english and Japanese. We really felt we were able to have more interesting conversations as a result.
March 27, 2020
Awesome experience! highly recommend My friends and I went on the Half-Day Bike Tour around Maibara, Japan. The weather was perfect and the mountain bikes were high quality so it was easy to ride around. The tour was laid back and super fun with funny conversations. Our guide, Matsui-san, shared interesting information about the local area stopping here and there throughout the ride. Unmatched authentic Japan experience that we wouldn’t have had if we hadn’t chosen to do this bike tour. If you or your friends like nature, culture, and exploring more rural areas this will definitely be up your alley. We highly recommend to any couple, family, of group of friends! It was the highlight of my japan trip!!
Jean-Christophe G
Jean-Christophe G
March 25, 2020
Must do The tour was great! It was well designed, had a lot of different views, and was full of interesting information about the culture, history and local traditions. The bikes were of great quality and the guide was very friendly (and speaks good english too!). I strongly recommend that you do the tour if you are in the Maibara area.
Local Expert Team

Our Primary Guides

Takako Matsui-Leidy
Takako (Tako) Matsui-Leidy

Tako is the main manager of the Biwako Backroads project as well as a fully licensed English guide. Aside from 11 years living in the US, Tako has spent most of her life in Shiga and is happy to share the local culture with you!

Ryoko Vick Kitano
Ryoko Vick Kitano

A Nagahama native who has spent time as a translator, and is a licensed English guide. She’s into local nature, culture, history and food. She loves sharing the unique local culture that you won’t find anywhere else in Japan!

Asami Higashiyama
Asami Higashiyama

Asami is a travel lover, and licensed English guide. Her husband is a Buddhist monk, so she has all kinds of knowledge about Japanese temples. She loves meeting travelers, learning about their country and cultural exchange. She also speaks both English and Spanish fluently.

Yuta Fukuhara
Yuta Fukuhara

Yuta is an outdoor explorer at heart and local forestry worker by trade. He’s been a great help to our team as the resident nature and hiking guide, and having grown up nearby, he knows the local region very well.

Support Guides
Support Guides

In addition to our primary guides, we also have a small network of friendly and knowledgeable guides providing back up and support as needed to ensure tour availability and a positive experience for our guests.

Access & Meeting Point

Meet Up and Go!

Working Together for Progress

Memberships & Partners

Japan Ecotourism Society
Yu Tour
Biwaichi Rental Cycle
Questions Welcome!

Contact Us

All questions welcome! To book a tour, please use the Booking Page form. Thanks, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!

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