Do as the locals and ride the town on two wheels taking in the scenic nature views and historical landmarks.
Walk along the streets of Hikone and you will quickly realize that good way to get around town is on two wheels. This is the prefered mode of transportation for many locals and practically speaking it is the most convenient one. Hikone Castle being the main attraction is located right smack in the middle of the town along with other related tourist attractions, but if you want to explore further, ride along the water of Lake Biwa, or do your sightseeing at a leisurely pace, then hop on a two-wheeler, or hire someone to do the pedaling for you.
To get rolling on your own, head over to Megurinko (めぐりんこ), a bike rental service steps away from JR Hikone Station that promotes ecological bike trips in and around town. The shop attendant does not speak English but offers a straightforward service, and in a matter of minutes you will be riding off on a cross bike or road bike for 600 yen/day, or on an electrical-assisted bicycle setting you back 800 yen/day.
For those feeling adventurous Megurinko’s recommended route will have you pedaling to Hikone Castle, around the outskirts of the city, and as far as neighbouring towns of
Toyosato, Kora, and Taisha while visiting the area’s sacred places. The total route is about
40km and will take up most of your day so plan accordingly. You do have the option to drop-off the bicycle at different stations along the route if you end up getting a tougher workout than what you bargained for.
On the other hand you can opt for a more relaxed ride combining the central Hikone area and Lake Biwa. The route is flexible and sightseeing options varied: You can cover the castle district while hopping on and off the bike at the various landmarks; Ride past Hanaboshi-dori’s wooden storefronts, around the pre-war area of Seribashi with its pedestrian-only alley ways, and through Nanamagari-dori, an Edo-era road leading up to Hikone Castle; And, connect with nature as you ride down the Seri River and along the lake shore.
If you want to enjoy the ride but want to leave the effort to someone else, then head over to
the castle grounds where Hikone’s iconic bicycle taxis are waiting to take you on tour of the
central area for 1000 yen a ride. The dressed-up drivers happily pull you around while sharing their knowledge of the town, leaving you to enjoy the ride and capture lots of photos. So be it either by your own means or by hiring a driver, cycling around Hikone is a great alternative that will let you see more in less time, and in the latter case doing so without even breaking a sweat. It is also a great option to take in the city as a local would and at the same time making the experience an eco-friendly one.