SETA RIVER/ UJI RIVER
Many rivers flow into Beautiful Lake Biwa, but the Seta River is the only river that flows out of the lake. It flows through the mountains from Ishiyama to Uji, and from Shiga to Kyoto, becoming Uji River somewhere along the way - perhaps at one of the dams along its length. Eventually it joins the Yodo River on its path through Osaka and into the Pacific Ocean. There is a road beside the river which is not too steep or difficult for cyclists, and which takes the traveler through some of the loveliest scenery I've seen. I've ridden that way three times now, but the road never seemed all that busy, another recommendation for cyclists. At the Ishiyama end the river flows calm and slow under wide skies, passing Ishiyama-dera where Murasaki Shikibu is supposed to have written The Tale of Genji. A big dam spans the river, but further on it narrows and becomes swift and rocky. There is a white water club on the banks, near Tachiki-Kannon Shrine, where pilgrims climb hundreds of steps to pray for educational success or protection during the 'danger years' in a person's life. On the far bank a railway line, now unused, can occasionally be glimpsed, but most of it has disappeared into the vigorous growth of the forest. A thatch roof cottage is passed, uninhabited and gracefully decaying. In places there is a little farmland or a few houses, but most of the way the road winds between the river and the tree-covered hills. A rusty bridge hung with vines and spider webs crosses the river to nowhere - the trees reclaimed the road long ago. At the Uji end there is another dam, much taller than the other one, and the water thunders through the gates before descending swiftly and widening into the big expanse of water that passes Byodo-in (the temple you can see on 5 yen coins) and flowing under the reconstructed famous wooden bridge, Gokou-Bashi.