Lake Biwa contains four islands. Oki-shima, located by the eastern shore of the middle portion of the lake, is the largest of the four, and the only one inhabited freshwater island in Japan.
On this post and a few upcoming posts, we will be featuring nature and people’s lives of the island!
The 1.5-square-km area is mainly mountainous and covered with bush and forest, with the highest point at 225m asl (about 135m above the face of the lake). Large parts of the coastline are backed by cliffs and densely-forested hills, except for the southwestern edge of the island where about 300 people live crammed in very limited flat lands.
Oki-shima is no more than 10 minutes by boat from the mainland, but in terms of atmosphere it is so slow-paced and tranquil that you will feel you are in somewhere very distant and remote.
This seems to be partly due to the lack of motorisation. There are no cars, buses or even motorbikes in the island. There are neither traffic lights nor roads that can be called roads. People use only “human-powered” vehicles— bicycles, tricycles and carts— for land transportation.
Consequently, what we often hear in Oki-shima are singing of birds and insects, voices of winds, and occasional engine sounds of small fishing boats.
(Continues to the next post)