What is Shiga? Where is it located?
Shiga(滋賀) Prefecture is a part of Kansai(関西) region, lies in the southern-central of Japan’s main island. Shiga is adjacent to the prefectures of Kyoto(京都), Fukui(福井), Gifu(岐阜) and Mie(三重), close to rural areas. Prefectural capital is Otsu City, the beautiful lakeside city which has plenty of attractions such as historic site, temple, shrine, market, hot spring, great hotels, cruising tour, and so on. In the middle of the prefecture, Lake Biwa(琵琶湖) lies surrounded by the mountains.
37% of the area is designated as national and prefectural nature park, holding Biwako National Park, Suzuka National Park and many prefectural park. This percentage is higher than any other prefectures in Japan. About 1,410,000 people live in Shiga, and about 24,000 people of them are from other country. Major cities are Otsu, Kusatsu, Hikone, Nagahama, Moriyama and Omihachiman.
Four distinct seasons in Shiga offer beautiful senery with Lake Biwa. The northern area which has pretty cool weather in winter is the best spot to enjoy beautiful nature and winter sports. The southern area which has hot weather in summer is known as a developed city from hundreds years ago, and has a lot of historical places to see.
Where to go in Shiga
Shiga has many attractions which help you relax from the stress of traveling, right next to Kyoto.
The prefectural capital Otsu City(大津市) is located in southwest end of Shiga, which was the capital of Japan over 1350 years ago. You can enjoy the old city sites through gourmet tours or sake tours. Enryaku-ji Temple at Mt. Hiei, one of the most famous temple in Japan, has easy access from Kyoto.
Hikone castle in Hikone City(彦根市) is one of the five castles designated as a national treasure that has existing parts of the original castle. It survived the post feudal era (Edo Period) without undergoing destruction and reconstruction.
Nagahama City(長浜市), is also one of the main cities in Shiga, known for many museums and Nagahama castle.
The rural area of Koka City(甲賀市) was the center for Ninjyas. Try the Koka Ninjya experience in Koka Ninjya Village. Miho Museum, designed by I.M.Pei, displays a bunch of arts from Egypt, Western Asia, Greece, Rome and Southern Asia. Shigaraki Town is one of the oldest pottery-producing areas in Japan, making almost all raccoon dog statues you can generally see in front of a shop or a house.
Omihachiman City(近江八幡市) has Hachiman-bori Canal, the historical waterway connecting to Lake Biwa. By virtue of the merchants who carried lots of things and foods, this city was enriched. Feel the good old atmosphere at the canal and the museum. Azuchi Castle Ruins were the biggest castle in Japan, built by Oda Nobunaga who is regarded as on of three unifiers of Sengoku Period.
Sagawa Art Museum in Moriyama City(守山市) which opened in 1998, displays many national treasures including the works of Hirayama Ikuo.
Shiga has some great Onsen(温泉) including Ogoto Onsen, located in western part of the prefecture.
The history of Shiga
In Edo Period, Shiga Prefecture was called Omi, which had the important role of connecting the East of Japan with Kyoto.
徳川幕府の終わりと明治初期の時代までは、徳川の 強力な支持者である伊藩が支配していました。1850年代にペリー・コモドとブラック・シップスが到着した後、西洋諸国と交渉したことがあったイ・ナオスケ氏と、外国人に対する特定の条約港を開設したハリス条約に調印された – それで彼の暗殺につながった人気のない外交1860年に江戸城の門の外を襲った桜田門。
How to get there?
The closest airport is Kansai International Airport (KIX). Chubu Centrair International Airport (NGO) also has good connection to Shiga.
The main expressway going through Shiga Prefecture are Hokuriku Expressway, Meisin Expressway and Sinmeisin Expressway.