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About Shiga

Shiga, the home of Biwako, the mother lake

Shiga Prefecture is located roughly in the center of the Japanese archipelago. It is the site of Biwako, Japan’s most well-known lake.

The largest lake in the country, Biwako covers 670 square kilometers and holds 27.5 billion tons of water. It supports the lives and businesses of 14 million people in the region, including Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe in addition to Shiga Prefecture.

Biwako is said to be the mother lake. It is one of the few lakes in the world known to have a history dating back four million years, and it has helped nourish a broad spectrum of living creatures.

Finfish, shellfish, the flowers of the lakeshore, wildfowl, and we human beings have shared our lives with this bountiful lake since ancient times.

Shiga, the land of water, has created a climate of abundance with this lake over the years.

A pivotal site in history that links Tokyo and Kyoto

Once known as Omi, Shiga Prefecture lies next to the ancient capital of Kyoto. It has fostered a rich history and flourished as an important area linking the cultures of Tokyo (Edo) and Kyoto. Many historical legacies remain today throughout the prefecture that have played a critical role in the history of Japan.

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  • Home of the Manyoshu

    Higashiomi is known as the home of the Manyoshu.

  • The Tale of Genji

    Ishiyama-dera is a Buddhist temple where Murasaki Shikibu is said to have created "Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji)" in the Heian Period.

  • World Heritage Site

    Hieizan Enryaku-ji, a Buddhist temple, has been designated a World Heritage site. It is the headquarters of the Tendai sect, making it an important Buddhist site, and many monks have trained there.

  • The Eight Views of Omi

    The eight views of Omi are eight sites of selected scenic beauty at the southern part of Biwako.

  • The Sengoku Period

    There are also many sites associated with military commanders during the Warring States period, including old battlefields and Shiroyama. The prefecture is the site of the NHK television drama this year, Go-Himetachi no Sengoku.

A beautiful life and culture

Biwako, the mountains, and the land—in a peaceful and bountiful environment, Shiga Prefecture has fostered a diverse culture. The lives of the people are closely bound to the lake.

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  • Scenery

    The lovely lakeside area extends to Omihachiman and Azuchi. It is prized as a cultural treasure, and the national government selected it as the first important cultural landscape.

  • Daily Life

    The system known as kabata allows clean spring water to be brought into the home. After its use, it is purified by the fish in small rivers and aquatic plants, and finally flows into Biwako.

  • Industry

    Shigaraki ware is made in the Shigaraki area, counted as one of the “Six Old Kilns of Japan”.

  • Industry

    These ribs give form to the lovely Japanese folding fans. Adogawa is far and away the largest producer of these ribs in the country.

  • Economy

    Shiga Prefecture is known as the home of Japan’s famous Omi merchants who thrived in the area from the Edo period to just before World War II. Many of the leaders of today’s large corporations can trace their heritage to the Omi merchants, and they are active in business throughout the world.

Bountiful nature, bountiful meals

The food in Shiga is a delight. The prefecture is blessed by nature, and is a cornucopia of food products.

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  • Omi Brand Rice

    Omi brand rice is grown with the excellent local water and has become a national favorite.

  • Omi Tea

    Omi tea is the site of origin for Japanese tea.

  • Omi Beef

    Omi beef is prized as one of the three best wagyu varieties in Japan.

  • The Lake Fish Dishes

    The lake fish dishes make use of the bounty of Biwako.

  • Funazushi

    Funazushi, fermented sushi made with carp, is a part of the food culture of antiquity that has been handed down to the present.

  • Kamonabe

    Kamonabe (duck pot), a winter favorite