Surrounding Japan’s largest lake, Shiga is blessed with water and greenery. It’s a great place to get away from the crowds and outdoor activities in any season.
Just across the Higashiyama mountains from Kyoto, Shiga prefecture is dominated by Lake Biwa. Over the centuries, Shiga has benefitted from its strategic position between Tokyo and Kyoto. Stunning temples, shrines and castles were built by wealthy merchants and powerful leaders at the time. Enryaku-ji is one of the most important temples in Japan, and A well-preserved Hikone Castle is one of just four castles that are classified as national treasures. The lake is also surrounded by mountains that you can enjoy snow in winter.
The three major festivals in Shiga
In the spring time, brilliant cherry blossoms bloom in many places, castle’s grounds, along the lake. From a Lake Biwa cruise or boat ride on the Biwako canal is also fantastic.
In summer, the lake’s surface beautifully reflects their sparkling lights. you can enjoy a wide range of water sports out on the lake. Summer festivals and Firework displays are also held.
The red and yellow autumn leaves bring a brilliant gradation to the surrounded mountains of Lake Biwa. Eigen-ji Temple and Keisoku-ji Temple are known for their incredible views in autumn.
In winter, you can enjoy skiing and other winter activities while looking out over Lake Biwa from Biwako valley at 1,174-meter. You may also see snow-covered historical temples, such as Enryaku-ji, Ishiyama-dera, Mii-dera.
Local Specialties of Shiga
Omi Beef is one of the three best brand beef in Japan, along with Kobe beef. Omi beef has the longest history of over 400 years. It was first introduced as a gift to the Shogun.
Funa-zushi is traditional fermented sushi made with Japanese funa fish taken from Lake Biwa. This famous local cuisine is described by its strong scent and tart flavor, the product of fermentation by lactic acid.
Shigaraki ware is made in Shigaraki city. The good natural soil from the nearby hills and chemical reactions give the pottery blue and yellowish tones as well as a unique finish. You may have seen a symbol of Shigaraki ware of Tanuki, raccoon.
Getting to Shiga
Destinations on the south and western sides of Lake Biwa is easily accessible by JR from Kyoto.