- For the Shiga Kogen ski resort, see Joshinetsu Kogen National Park.
Shiga used to be known as the province of Ōmi (近江). Shiga is adjacent to Kyoto and Nara, so there are many historic spots such as temples, shrines, castles and ninja houses. Also Shiga has the largest lake in Japan and is enclosed by mountain ranges, so you can easily enjoy the wonderful natural views.
Cities and towns
- 1 Ōtsu — the prefectural capital with many historical sites
- 2 Hikone — the site of one of Japan's few original castles
- 3 Kōka — the homeground of Koga ninja clan and Shigaraki ware
- 4 Kusatsu — traffic and commercial city
- 5 Maibara — major train junction and Mt. Ibuki, the highest mountain in Shiga
- 6 Nagahama — the city of old-fashioned landmarks such as the oldest preserved railroad station in Japan
- 7 Ōmihachiman — the hometown of old merchant culture, rural boating, and western buildings by Vories
- 8 Ryūō — an Ōmi beef-producing district near Omihachiman
- 9 Takashima — a scenic rural city in northwestern Shiga
- 1 Lake Biwa — Japan's largest lake
- 2 Mount Hiei — an ancient temple complex guarding Kyoto
- The Tokaido Shinkansen line stops at Maibara on its way from Kyoto to Nagoya. Otsu and the southern Lake Biwa area are easily accessed on local trains from Kyoto.
- The Special Rapid Service (新快速 Shinkaisoku) trains of JR Tokaido line and Hokuriku line (Its nicknames are "JR Kyoto Line" and "Biwako Line". Connects Osaka, Kyoto, Kusatsu, Maibara, Omi-Shiotsu and Tsuruga) and Kosei Line (Connects Osaka, Kyoto, Katata, Omi-Maiko, Omi-Shiotsu and Tsuruga) is useful for travel between Osaka, Kyoto and Shiga. Special Rapid Service trains runs once every half-hour or so.
- In Tokaido Line and Hokuriku Line, Special Rapid Service trains stops at Kyoto, Yamashina, Otsu, Ishiyama, Minami-Kusatsu, Kusatsu, Moriyama, Yasu, Omihachiman, Notogawa, Hikone, Maibara, Sakata, Tamura, Nagahama, Torahime, Kawake, Takatsuki, Kinomoto, Yogo, Omi-Shiotsu, Shin-Hikida and Tsuruga.
- In Kosei Line, Special Rapid Service trains stop at Kyoto, Yamashina, Otsukyo, Hieizan-Sakamoto, Katata, Omi-Maiko, Kitakomatsu, Omi-Takashima, Adogawa, Shin-Asahi, Omi-Imazu, Omi-Nakasho, Makino, Nagahara, Omi-Shiotsu, Shin-Hikida and Tsuruga.
- The Keihan Keishin Line connects Yamashina in eastern Kyoto City to central Otsu. It joins the Kyoto subway Tozai Line beyond Yamashina.
JR Railway has train lines that encircle Lake Biwa, providing access to many of the prefecture's cities. JR also has the Kusatsu Line, which runs through the southern part of the prefecture. Omi Railways provides public transport access to much of the southeastern cities and towns, as well. Ryuo is the only town in the prefecture that doesn't have a train station within its borders, so the prefecture is very accessible overall. Even so, places such as the Koto Sanzan temples, Mount Ibuki, etc. are located far from the nearest station. Such attractions are typically accessible by bus.
For cyclists, there is a bike route around Lake Biwa with various rental stations along it where you can rent or return bikes, providing safe and convenient bike access to many cities and attractions.
- Explore Hikone Castle and the surrounding castle town (Hikone)
- Marvel at the architecture of the secluded Miho Museum (Koka)
- Visit Ishiyama-dera to see where the world's first novel, the Tale of Genji, was written (Otsu)
- Ascend Mount Hiei to roam the grounds of Enryakuji Temple, the prefecture's sole World Heritage Site (Otsu)
- Learn at the Lake Biwa Museum (Kusatsu)
- Catch a glimpse of old Japan by strolling through Omihachiman's historic district (Omihachiman)
- Visit the only true ninja house left in the nation (Koka)
- Enjoy the atmosphere of the Koto Sanzan Temples (Higashiomi, Aisho, Kora)
- Relive history by exploring one of the famous Sengoku Period castles, such as Nagahama Castle (Nagahama), Azuchi Castle Ruins (Omihachiman), and Odani Castle Ruins (Nagahama).
It may not have the name recognition of Kobe beef, but Omi beef is very famous among Japanese gourmets, and every local town will have an (expensive) speciality restaurant. If you want to try it at a reasonable price, you can buy Omi beef ekiben (box lunches sold at a station) at JR Maibara station.
Funazushi (鮒寿司) is a famous local sushi. Made from anaerobically fermented funa (鮒), a local freshwater carp, the recipe dates back thousands of years and is in fact the original form of sushi. It's famously stinky and an acquired taste even among the Japanese.