By Joe Peters
An hour away from central Osaka, or half an hour away from central Kyoto, Kiyomiso Inn sits on the western side of Lake Biwa. A family run business, the inn is just a few steps away from the shores of Lake Biwa. Since 2001, pets have been welcomed and many families have brought their dogs, cats, rabbits, and more, for a simple short weekend getaway. There is an empty beach space right in front of the inn near the lake, where pets can expand their energy and meet other animals. If you bring your pet, they can have their photos taken and pasted onto a board on the wall detailing the pets who have visited. The owners own a dog as well, with whom dog lovers can play with.
Being so close to the lake, watching the sunrise is definitely one of the recommendations. Some of the rooms face the lake, and you can watch the sunrise from the comfort of your room, albeit from a distance. Most of the rooms are the traditional Japanese styled rooms, spacious and comfortable. However, as with many traditional Japanese homestays, the baths are housed in another area, separate from the room itself.
If you are looking for a traditional homecooked meal, do try the recommended chicken sukiyaki or the Omi beef shabu shabu. They too offer a barbecue in the summer. Breakfast is usually buffet style. The eating area faces the lake, and you can enjoy the lake view while eating. They even have an entire shelf of comics for entertainment.
The inn is situated near a small town, with the usual shopping mall, food outlets, and karaoke. During the sakura season, pretty sakura trees line the sides of the nearby river. It is also a great place for the summer, where there is a facility nearby for water activities. If you are going to Biwako Valley, do get a discount coupon from the inn!
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I still clearly remember the day I first landed in Japan, and since then it has been my goal to set foot in all 47 prefectures. I try to look for less touristy areas, preferring the countryside to the city. I'm always amazed by the many Haagen Dazs and ice cream flavors available only in Japan.