A prefecture with connections to World Heritage sites and ninja, all centering on Japan’s biggest lake, Lake Biwa

Area Characteristics

Shiga Prefecture is in the center of Japan, adjacent to Kyoto. The largest lake in Japan, Lake Biwa with an area of 674km2, takes up one-sixth of the prefecture. Shiga is separated into 7 areas including Otsu which is an important area for traffic, Hikone which has the National Treasure of Hikone Castle, Koka which is the birthplace for ninja, and the nostalgic townscape of Nagahama. With plenty of leisure activities at the lake, the scenes representing all 4 seasons around Lake Biwa known as The Eight Views of Lake Biwa are also highly popular.

Major Sites

At Lake Biwa, there are various leisure activities starting with the excursion boats and their shows, water sports including banana boats and canoes, and a fireworks competition. Enryaku-ji Temple which straddles the border between Kyoto and Shiga occupies 500ha of land on the 848m-high Mt. Hiei and is a World Heritage site with up to 150 temple buildings on its grounds. In addition, there is Koka Ninja Village where you can learn the Koka school of ninjutsu, one of the 2 major schools in Japan, the 400-year-old Hikone Castle, and Hachiman-bori Canal in Omihachiman which offers tours of its riverside, all of which are popular.



You will want to sample Omi beef which is one of Japan’s best brands of Wagyu. The distinctively-scented funazushi (carp sushi) and red konnyaku (konjac jelly) are famous dishes of Shiga. There are also many kinds of sweets from the prefecture ranging from Japanese varieties such as string-cut rice cakes and decchi yokan (bean jelly) to Western styles such as baum kuchen.



From Tokyo Station by Tokaido Shinkansen (Bullet Train), it takes about 2 hours to reach Maibara. Taking a rental car is convenient if you intend to go to several areas in the prefecture.



Accommodations can be found mainly around the Lake Biwa vicinity. There are also hotels and inns at Nagahama near the main station of Maibara, at Otsu near Enryaku-ji Temple, and at castle towns such as Omihachiman and Hikone.