Shiga Prefecture is close to Osaka and Kyoto by train! Enjoy the fascinating spots surrounding Japan's largest lake, Lake Biwako.

Osaka and Kyoto are on every Japan trip itinerary. Actually, nearby Shiga Prefecture also is an fascinating area. Otsu, a city in the center of Shiga Prefecture, can be reached by train from Osaka Station in roughly 40 minutes, and from Kyoto in about 10 minutes. Even if you are staying in Osaka or Kyoto you can enjoy a day trip to Shiga Prefecture.
Location of Shiga Prefecture
Shiga Prefecture -- which has the largest lake in Japan, Lake Biwako -- is a treasure house of abundant nature, famous places and historical ruins. Near beautiful Lake Biwako, which is so large it might be mistaken for the ocean, there are many fascinating tourist destinations. In this feature, we will tell you about a route chosen by our editors.
▼Here is a video that conveys the charm of Shiga Prefecture! Enjoy the article below while you wait for it to download.
We will start our journey at Otsu, the prefecture's capital city. There are many shrines and temples in this area, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site Enryakuji temple on Mt. Hiei. The grounds have a solemn ambience to the grounds; they contain a row of buildings designated important cultural property and are surrounded by mountains and forest. It is truly a sacred place! Not only is Enryakuji fun to look at, you can have an experience of the sort only available in Japan through zazen, in which you sit with straight posture and mentally concentrate, and shakyo, or copying Chinese characters expressing the thoughts of the Buddha by hand. to purify your mind and body.
【Hieizan Enryakuji】
Address:4220 Sakamoto-honmachi, Otsu-shi,, Shiga Prefecture
Open:Sign up is available between 9:00 and 16:00 every day (with some seasonal variations).
When calling from outside Japan, replace the first 0 in the telephone number with 81.
The next spot we would like to introduce is about 25 minutes by train from Otsu. It is Omihachiman, which is popular as a location for filming historical dramas. It is a beautiful town where you can enjoy history and art. Such features include a traditional warehouse renovated into a cafe and a gallery where you can see the vestiges of buildings developed by the merchants of the Edo Period. One thing we would like you to experience in this town is “Hachimanbori-meguri”. Hachimanbori is a canal created by Toyotomi Hidetsugu, second-in-command to military commander Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who unified Japan some 450 years earlier.
At the time, the canal was used to move people and things, and it contributed to the development of the town. Hachimanbori-meguri refers to the experience of enjoying a leisurely boat tour of the canal to gaze upon the historical buildings and nature of the area. This slow water promenade will allow you to mentally relax.
Address:738-2 taga-cyo, Omihachiman-shi, Shiga Prefecture
Access:About 6-min. on Chomeiji Line by Omi bus from JR Omihachiman Sta.Get off at bus stop Osugicho Hachimanyama Ropewayguchi and 3-min. walk
Fare:Adults ¥1,000/Child ¥500 ※ No charge under elementary school student
Note: From December to March, a reservation must be made by telephone by the day before.
When calling from outside Japan, replace the first 0 in the telephone number with 81.
After the Hachimanbori-meguri, proceed to the nice-looking stone-paved lanes of the surrounding area. The townscape and shops that mix old and new make a perfect date spot.
One of our editors gets his fill of matcha powdered green tea and sweet bean jelly at Hosa Amana. After a brief rest, the team headed to the next spot.
【Hosa Amana】
Address:12 Osugi-cyo, Omihachiman-shi, Shiga Prefecture
Open:11:00-17:30 (Last order: 17:00)
When calling from outside Japan, replace the first 0 in the telephone number with 81.
Move on to Nagahama, about 35 minutes by train from Omihachiman, where you enjoyed the lanes and other sights. This area is known by the name Kurokabe Square and as an art town. The variety stores and cafes are charming, but we recommend Kurokabe Glass-kan!
Various glass products made by artisans are on display and available for sale in an open space in a Western building built around 1900. Colorful glass artworks make perfect gifts for your friends back home.
You can watch experienced artisans create glass artworks in the adjacent Kurokabe Glass Studio. And you can also have a hands-on glass-making experience of your own in this studio. It is a popular section where you blow air into a blob of molten glass to make it into a cup, vase for one flower or small bowl. After you make a glass product, it must be set aside to cool for a while, but it can be mailed to you. Why not give your sweetheart a glass item you made yourself as a present?
【Kurokabe Glass-kan】
Address:12-38 Motohama-cho, Nagahama-shi, Shiga Prefecture
Open:10:00-18:00 (until 17:00 from November to March)
When calling from outside Japan, replace the first 0 in the telephone number with 81.
Regarding the glass-making experience: Same-day registration is available, but use the following telephone number to check availability.
When calling from outside Japan, replace the first 0 in the telephone number with 81.
Shiga Prefecture has many charms. If you have walked the course as suggested so far, you must be hungry. We would definitely like you to try eating Omi Ushi. It is one of the three great varieties of wagyu (Japanese beef) and the wagyu brand with the longest history at some 400 years.
The restuarant our editors tried was Omi Ushi Honke Marusa. It is a famous establishment serving only carefully selected Omi Ushi. The meat is finely textured with sweet fat and practically melts in the mouth. And compared to other beef brands, its price is fairly reasonable. By all means enjoy it fully when you visit Shiga Prefecture!
【Omi Ushi Honke Marusa】
Address:243 Hirakata-cho, Nagahama-shi, Shiga Prefecture
Open:17:00-23:00 (subject to change)
When calling from outside Japan, replace the first 0 in the telephone number with 81.
In this feature, we have only talked about a small number of the attractions of Shiga Prefecture. You can go to the spots we introduced here and find others on your own. When you feel so inclined, visit Shiga Prefecture!