June 09, 2015


Shiga(滋賀)prefecture is located in the Kansai(関西)region, east of Kyoto. There are many attractions/cities surrounding Lake Biwa(琵琶湖), Japan's largest lake in this prefecture.

Just like other prefectures in Kansai, checked out this prefecture quite comprehensively. My favorite being Nagahama(長浜), an attractive castle town famous for glass art on the northeastern shore of Biwako.

In Kurokabe(黒壁)Square there, there are rows of traditional houses and shopping street, with interesting glass galleries and modern & traditional cafes. The best time to go Nagahama is from mid-January to early March, when Japan's best "bonsai" plum(盆梅)exhibition is held there. The annual Hikiyama Festival(曳山祭り)is also held from 13-16 April, whereby there are grand floats and kabuki played by boys under 12.

Local specialty Yakisaba Somen is delicious! Omi beef(近江牛)is specialty of Shiga prefecture, though after trying a few times, conclude that I prefer Kobe/Tajima and Hida beef.

Another place I like in Shiga prefecture is Mount Hiei 比叡山 (crossing over to Kyoto prefecture), 1 of the 3 most sacred places in Japan. I like the other 2 as well, Mount Koya and Mount Osore.

From Keihan Sakamoto station, walked 15 minutes to the cable car station and took the cable car up the mountain. It is the longest cable car ride in Japan, lasting 11 minutes, cost 1570 yen for round trip. From the top, trekked 10 minutes to Enryakuji(延暦寺), the key attraction on Mount Hiei. It is a national treasure, rebuilt in 1642. In Konponchudo(根本中堂), the everlasting light of Buddhism shines, since 1200 years ago.

There are also museums and other temples on the mountain. They are mainly divided into 3 areas, each with a pagoda, and I only visited the main eastern pagoda area.

1 of 4 castles designated as national treasures of Japan- Hikone Castle(彦根城), is also in this prefecture. It is 1 of 12 surviving castles since Edo period. Though it can't be compared with Himeji Castle also in Kansai.

Out of around 30 cherry blossom spots I have visited in Japan, Kaizu Osaki(海津大崎)is my personal top 3. Most people who go there are locals or people who drive, so it isn't touristy at all. Though it was really cold there.

Also went to Kusatsu(草津)City for Inazama Rock Festival 2013, featuring TM Revolution and UVERworld!

Other famous attractions in the prefecture which I haven't been to include Ishiyama-dera(石山寺), which is said to be where The tale of Genji was written, Omi Hakkei(近江八景), 8 scenic places around Lake Biwa, and perhaps Koka(甲賀), the less developed of 2 areas known for ninja.


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