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Welcome to my blog!

If you are in for an adventure paired with lengthy, quirky, brutal honest thoughts then you are in the right place.

My name is Arisa and was a cosplayer for 12 years in Malaysia before settling down in Kyoto, Japan. Exploring Japan full time has been a long time dream of mine, so let's explore it together!
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Biwako Terrace, Shiga

Finally a new travel post is up, not really much of "travel" per say because it's only a day trip from Kyoto lol consider it more of a "side quest" especially if you are planning to visit Kansai region someday once this pandemic is over. It's really bizarre to know that this place exists less than 50 mins away from Kyoto (if you were to depart from Kyoto station) and as you all know from my IG story updates that Kyoto city is having somewhat of a "winter drought" for the past 2 years because there's barely any snow pilling up around especially central city. It's really odd because for the 30 years+ the danna grew up here there always has been snow, like actual white covered grounds that you can roll around in and have snowball fights. Unlike what we are experiencing now, snow so fine that melts the minute it touches the ground and oddly enough, the temperature is still the same as always- freezing point

It's actually rather sad to see such drastic changes, knowning we'll never be able to enjoy much snow around here again unless some miracle were to happen.   
And i'm going to come clean here and confess that i have a serious snow obsession lol and no it has nothing to do with my love for Elsa either. I mean, who doesn't like fresh fluffy white snow?! I know it may cause inconvenience to some people but come on! It's freaking snow! 
Every year i pray to the gods, hoping it will send some snow over to our place Kyoto but no luck with it so far ๐Ÿ˜ข And you want to know how desperate I am? 
Desperate and crazy enough to ask for snow in Kyoto as christmas present lol.

Was so ready for the danna to just hand me a bottle of frozen water or some kakigori at this point because what i'm asking for is something impossible unless you are God haha๐Ÿ˜‚ really didn't think he would bring me all the way up to the mountain just for freaking snow lol. This is called true love man. 

The first time we visited Biwako Terrace (ใณใ‚ๆน–ใƒ†ใƒฉใ‚น) was back in 2019, supposedly to get a good view of Biwako (Lake Biwa) and the surronding valley but we went during a bad time because first it was crowded with locals and secondly it was a cloudy day so we couldn't see anything in front of us. It was a total failure trip lol, and I'll also need to be frank with you guys especially when coming up here. It's really a gamble with the nature Gods and if they decided to troll you during your visit then too bad lol.

As this is my first post about Shiga on the blog (like finally!), I'll share a little bit more details about this neighbouring prefecture which is often outshined by the usual Kansai Trio (we all know who lol). You know thinking back, Kyoto wouldn't be super cramped with tourists (during pre-covid days) if only the crowd was dispersed equally because whatever we have here, Shiga has something similar or even better to offer! Honestly I have so many post about Shiga sitting in my draft box collecting virtual dust, I'm currently asking myself now what took me so long to share? Classic procrastinator lol.

I don't blame foreign crowds for not really flocking Shiga that much because even locals see this prefecture as more on outskirt city/ countryside place more suitable for living and raising a family (as cost of living here is slightly lower than major cities) instead of tourism. Almost similar to Saitama's situation, not to say both of them don't have their own tourists spots; they do! It's just that they don't get highlighted as much as major cities. I mean look at travel fair pamphlets, you'll mostly see the Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hokkaido being featured lol and i don't blame these tourism agencies either because they are just advertising based on what people are demanding for and what sells at the end of the day.

Also when you mention Shiga the first thing that comes to people's mind is probably the largest and oldest lake in whole of Japan - Biwako 
And every summer people would go over to enjoy some water sports, that's about it. Biwako is approximately 4 million years old, in case you are wondering and lazy to open a new tab to google lol.

Mount climbing, hiking and camping is also thing in Shiga for those of you unaware (one of its highly recommended routes is the Mt. Hiei Trekking “Honzaka Route”) as this perfecture is surrounded by vast beautiful moutains and during winter naturally some of them become popular spots (among locals) for winter sports like Biwako Valley, Gransnow Okuibuki & Mt. Hakodateyama. 

Back to Biwako Valley where Biwako Terrace is located on, this place is somewhat like a "resort" but not exactly one (?), just the concept per say and it is only accessible via the ropeway (fastest in Japan too by the way!). A round trip ride costs 3000yen per adult which is roughly RM120+ -ish. 

That price does seem to pinch a little especially if you are on a tight budget trip, so the biggest question now is whether it's worth paying to visit this place? 
From experience whenever a place is owned by a "resort company", I've already expected to be charged double for every single thing including basic stuff like a bottle of water. Practically everything has a "fancy" price tag to keep up with the branding purpose lol. 

Welcome to Biwako Valley!

Though there aren't any accomodations available up here (for now), but that doesn't stop people from making a day trip just to enjoy the panoramic view of Biwako and its surrounding cities all year round; and it does feel like you can see the whole of Shiga from up here depending on how good your eyesight is and whether you are lucky enough to visit on a bright sunny day ๐Ÿ˜‚

There's a direct bus from Shiga station which takes you only 10 minutes to reach the ropeway base station, and if you choose to drive like we did from Kyoto station; it takes about 40-50 minutes to reach and there is a car entry fee of 1000yen.  

If you are worried about getting food up here there are restaurants and cafes available, some of them even used to be buffet style pre-covid, but i'm not sure now because it was closed when i visited last month.
I would recommend dining at "The Main" Grand Terrace Cafe where you can enjoy your meal while overlooking the valley; during summer everything is lush green and vivid blue from the window and for winter you'll be greeted by icicles hanging from the roof and tons of fluffy white snow covering the veranda. This place is a feast for both the eyes and stomach lol. 
The interior of this place reminds me of those cozy log houses we usually see in western movies.  

Meals at this cafe is sold ala carte style (no lunch set menu so you'll have to add on your drinks full price weee~) so you have to order and pay at the cashier first before seating, and another important information i need to add on is that for the window view spot at where like we sat at, there's an additional "seating charge" of 500 yen per person if I'm not mistaken and each group is only limited to 1 HOUR.  For other seats around the cafe away from the window, it's free.

The beef stew was kinda pathethic because the meat was really small for the price paid.  

My Hamburg "steak" was at least filling

The food served here was average? Just the usual konbini level kind of taste which is decent except we've paid like 1400yen+ for a meal each lol. Toldja everything is expensive up here.

Living my 1 hour "tai tai life" dream ๐Ÿ˜‚

Wasted no time quickly snapping pictures within 5 minutes so we could savour the rest of the 55 minutes we paid for lol. This place is smart because they all know with our current social media lifesyle, everyone wants a "perfect instagrammable shot" of the place they are visiting and they took this opportunity to cash on that ๐Ÿ˜‚ Seriously first time being charged extra just to seat next to a cafe window woi! Even plane window seats at least i get to enjoy it for 6 hours lol. 
Outside at the veranda you can snap pictures freely, there's no charge for it but fair warning during winter the winds can be quite brutal.

The bun that came with our meal looks very SUS lol, the danna said "it looks like a butt, just missing poop"

Me: Here's your "poop" lol be careful for what you ask for around me ๐Ÿ˜‚

Also another thing to take note is that the window seating is subject to availability, first come first serve basis so best to call on the day itself to check whether it's full or not. Too bad you can't make a phone reservation for it, that's one of the downsides of this place; everything falls back to "luck based a.k.a gamble". If you are unlucky as heck, the whole place is crowded or so cloudy until can't see anything lol. 

Honestly to pay that much to go up here and not see anything, i would totally understand if you wanna flip table because i would be pissed too ๐Ÿ˜‚ and that happened during my first visit up here. 
Honestly la, as much as i love the concept and view of Biwako Valley, the total cost of this day trip easily set you back RM500 or more (if you rent skiing/ snowboard clothing & equipment).

For a slightly lower price and similar setting would be Rokko-san in Kobe (also because there's a special discounted tourist pass for this place).

There's actually another panoramic cafe spot available further up the moutain slope which you'll need to ride the Horai or Uchimi Lift to reach and it's only open certain periods of the year. Make sure to check the schedule on their official website before going!

Aside from skiing and snowboarding there's a zipline course (really wanted to try this!), playground for kids and a skywalker challenge which something older kids might enjoy doing- they need to be at least minimal 115cm in height. It's closed for winter now but will resume again during Golden week onwards. 



ALWAYS check the weather forecast before going!

I had to stress the "always" three times because that's how important it is and there's a 24/7 live camera on the website that shows you the daily current weather condition as well. 
When we visited the forecast say it would be super cloudy and windy so the odds of getting a view is like less than 1%? It was a last minute plan so we decided to just roll with it and prayed really hard so that we can at least get a brief few seconds view (don't be like me please๐Ÿ˜‚). Anyway my main goal was rolling around snow, so the view was secondary lol. 

Even the ticketing staff told us it was almost empty that day because of the heavy clouds, not complaining because it's great for social distancing and guess what?
My "hare-onna"* powers seems to be working this year because the weather briefly changed when we arrived to the top, from non stop brutal strong winds to slightly clear skies, enough that we could finally see Biwako!

*If you have watched Tenki No Ko (or Weathering with You in English) by Makoto Shinkai, you'll know about Hina's abilities to change the weather from rain to sunshine. This is what we call "Hare-onna"- sunny woman ๐Ÿ˜‚ 
But i don't think it's possible for actual humans have such ability, but it's just a term for the coincidence lol. 

This place is pretty much family friendly in general, there's easy access for wheelchairs and baby strollers, it's well equipped and has various activities that people of all ages can enjoy. 
So the next time if you are craving from some snow action and need a quick fix from Kyoto, consider visiting Biwako Valley!  

Last but not least, for my stamp collector fam. 
Good news as there is a special limited Biwako Valley design stamp available, it's not displayed openly so please do ask the staff at the Ropeway Bottom station where you purchase the tickets from. There's also a postbox right outside of the souvenier store for those who want to send a "Watashi Dayori"- postcard to yourself from travels
Best to prepare your own postcard and stamps before hand. 
Kinda bummed because i forgot my stamping notebook this round and the paper i stamp on went missing before i could take a picture of it ๐Ÿ˜“ 

Would i make another visit again?

Maybe, but not so soon because there are other parts of Shiga I would like to explore as well and this place is definitely one of those "must visit & experience at least once" kind of thing and i'm not really much into winter sports because my lazy a** just wants to roll around, enjoy the snow and hibernate after lol no exercises for me please!๐Ÿ˜‚ I've tried before during my visit at Rokko-san and the aftermath of it was sore muscles over the next 2 weeks, i'm just a bunch of old rickety bones at this rate lol. 
If it the ropeway ride wasn't that pricey (maybe they should start selling an annual pass) i would definitely visit this place more frequently all year round, it's a great break away from Kyoto. 

Best blooper photo ever lol

Yours Truly,

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