“The beauty of Lake Biwa is decidedly feminine, as graceful and delicate as women’s loveliness. And it is characteristically Japanese, having that quality of gracefulness and softness which is common to all the best of things Japanese.
“The lake is almost always pearly and calm. Little white steam-boats glide lightly over the waters, and only when a breeze passes, gently playing with the hair of the travelers on the boats, is the mirror-like surface of the waters broken into sparkling ripples. It is one of the pleasantest recreations to be on one of these steamers and thread along the winding coasts and among the islets that float on the pearly expanse of the waters.
“The largest of the islands is Oki-no-shima, some 3 miles off the eastern shore of the lake. The most picturesque is Chikubu-shima near the northern end of the lake. So fair is this islet in the midst of the opalescent waters that the landscape around it presents a dreamland of ethereal charm, completely captivating a traveler’s fancy. It is the cynosure of the lake scenery and has long been revered as a spot of holy pilgrimage by Nature’s devotees. On this islet are a temple dedicated to Kannon and a Shinto shrine of Chukufusuma, both being creations of the 16th century when our architecture had a period marked by grandeur of construction and magnificence of ornamentation. They are perfectly set in the landscape, and delight the eye of pilgrims with the stately beauty of their architecture.”
– “By Biwa’s Lake and Dells”, Travel in Japan, Vol. 5 No. 3, 1939
“The Lake of Omi, also called Biwa-ko, from a fancied resemblance of its outline to the Chinese guitar, is about 37 m in length and 12 m wide at its greatest breadth. Its area is about equal to that of the Lake of Geneva. Its height is about 288 ft above the level of the sea and its greatest depth is said to be the same.
“From Katada towards Seta it becomes very narrow while the northern part is oval in shape. On the W side, the mountain ranges of Hiyeizan and Hirayama descend nearly to the shore, while on the E a wide plain extends between Musa and Toriimoto towards the boundary of Mino.
“There are a few islands in the N part of which Chikubu-shima is the most celebrated. According to the legend, the lake was produced by an earthquake in the year 286 BC while Fuji rose out of the plains of Suruga at the same moment. Much mention is made by the Japanese of the Omi-no-Hakkei or Eight Beauties of Omi. These are the Autumn Moon from Ishiyama, the Evening Snow on Hira-yama, the Blaze of Evening at Seta, the Evening Bell of Miidera, the Boats sailing back from Yabase, a Bright Sky with a Breeze at Awadzu, Rain by night at Karasaki, and the Wild Geese alighting at Katada. It is evident that in order to enjoy these Beauties the places named must be visited at the proper hours and seasons.”
– A Handbook for Travellers in Central & Northern Japan, by Sir Ernest Mason Satow & A. G. S. Hawes, 1884