News & Events
- Castles of Omi
- Due to being close to Kyoto and a key point for travel, the Omi region saw numerous battles featuring famous feudal warlords, including Nobunaga and Hideyoshi. The importance of the region also led those seeking to unify Japan to build castles here. These are a few of the castles that are truly representative of Omi.
Hikone-jo Castle is not only a National Treasure but is also exceptionally well preserved, even if all castles in Japan are considered, and attracts a large number of visitors throughout the year.
Azuchi-jo Castle is said to have been the first wooden high-rise building in the world, but it was burnt down only three years after being built and now only the ruins remains.
Nagahama-jo Castle is where feudal warlord Hideyoshi Toyotomi spent the end of the warring states period. It was abandoned at the start of the Edo period (1603 - 1868) and is now an archeological museum featuring a restoration of the castle from its glory days.
- Kaizuosaki Cherry Blossom Viewing Cruise
- Kaizuosaki is one of the “100 best cherry blossom viewing spots in Japan” and known as a late blooming spot in the Kinki area. The 4km row of cherry blossoms can also be seen from the lakeside.
※The schedule may change or be canceled depending on weather conditions.
※Blossom season may not coincide with the cruise schedule.
【Sakura Uraura】Departure and Arrival: Oura Port (Approx. 40min.)
Apr. 2 (Sat)～17 (Sun) (Charter service only from 4/2 to 4/8)
Adult ¥3,000 4-12years old ¥1,500 Under 3 years old Free
Oura Port～Nihonmatsu～Kaizuosaki～Oura Port
①10：00～ ②10：30～ ③11：00～ ④11：30～
⑤12：30～ ⑥13：00～ ⑦13：30～ ⑧14：00～
Access：15 min. walk from JR Kosei Line Nagahara Sta.
Contact / Reservation：Lakewest Kanko TEL：077-572-2114 FAX：077-573-9044
【Kaizuosaki Sakura Cruise】※Reservation required
《Departure and Arrival: Nagahama Port》
・High-speed Boat（2h 30min／Daytime・Round-trip）
Apr. 1 (Fri)～20 (Wed)
Adult ¥3,090 Elementary school student ¥1,540
Nagahama Port～Strolling Kaizuosaki (30min.)～Nagahama Port
①9：20～ ②12：15～ ③15：00～
・Vessel BIANCA（2h 40min.／Daytime・Round-trip）
Apr. 5 (Tue)～19 (Tue)
Adult ¥3,100 Elementary school student ¥1,550
Nagahama Port(14：20)～cruising Kaizuosaki ～ Nagahama Port
※Additional 11:00 am departure on 4/17,18 and 19
Access：10 min. walk from JR Hokuriku Main Line Nagahama Sta.
Contact / Reservation：Biwako Kisen Nagahama Branch TEL：0749-62-3390
【Departure and Arrival: Imazu Port】Apr. 1 (Fri)～20 (Wed)
・Landing Course【1h 45min.】(Daytime・Round-trip)
Adult ¥2,880 Elementary school student ¥1,440
Imazu Port～Strolling Kaizuosaki (30min.)～ Imazu Port
・Excursion Course【1h 20min.】(Daytime・Round-trip)
Adult ¥2,670 Elementary school student ¥1,340
Imazu Port ～Cruising Kaizuosaki～ Imazu Port
①11：30～ ②13：15～ ③15：30
Access：5 min. walk from JR Kosei Line Ohmi-imazu Sta.
Contact / Reservation：Biwako Kisen Imazu Branch TEL：0740-22-1747
【Kaizuosaki Cherry Blossom Viewing Boat】
Departure and Arrival: Hikone Port (2h 40min.)
Apr. 1 (Fri)～20 (Wed)
(Round-trip) Adult ¥3,500 Under 12years old ¥1,750
Hikone port～Viewing from the boat～Strolling Kaizuosaki(30min.)～Hikone port
①10：00～ ②13：00～ ③15：15～
Access：Approx. 12 min. taxi ride from the JR Maibara sta. (Tokaido Shinkansen)
Or 5 min. taxi ride from the JR Biwako Line Hikone sta. west gate
Contact / Reservation：Ohmi Marine Hikone Port
- Spring Festivals in Shiga
- 【Sanno Festival】Apr. 12 (Tue) ～ 14 (Thu)
Sanno Festival, one of the three big festivals of Shiga, takes place at Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine for over a month and half, beginning on March 1st. The main attraction runs from April 12 to 14. The Umanojinji ritual, in which two portable shrines, representing the marriage between two gods, are brought down from Mt. Ushio on the 12th. The Yoimiya Otoshi ritual, where portable shrines are rocked vigorously to simulate gods being born is on the 13th. The Awazu-no-Goku ritual, in which seven portable shrines are loaded onto a boat to cross a portion of Lake Biwa is on the 14th. This Shinto festival is both dynamic and spectacular.
Place：Around Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine 5-1-1 Sakamoto, Otsu City
Access：20 min. walk from JR Kosei Line Hieizan-sakamoto Sta. or,5 min. from Keihan Sakamoto Sta.
Contact：Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine TEL：077−578−0009
【Nagahama Hikiyama Festival】Apr 9 ～ 16 (every year)
Nagahama Hikiyama Festival is one of the three largest float festivals in Japan as well as one of the three big festivals of Shiga, and has been designated one of the nation's intangible folklore cultural assets. The children’s kabuki theater, performed by 5 to 12 years old boys on the night of the 13th, morning of the 14th and throughout the days of the 15th and 16th, astounds adults and captivates entire audiences. The parade of the child actors in costume on the night of the 14th and all the four Hikiyama floats illuminated by lanterns on the night of the 15th are a sight to see.
Place：Around Nagahama City 10 min. walk from JR Biwako Line Nagahama Sta.
Contact：Nagahama city Tourism Promotion Division
【48th Kusatsu Post Town Festival】Apr 29 (Sun) around 10：00～19：30
Kusatsu Post Town Festival is one of the main spring events in Shiga. It is the 48th festival this year and nearly 80,000 people visit every year. The main attraction is the Procession of the Age where people in exquisite costumes strolls through the beautiful historic town. With local gourmet foods, stage performances by local participants and more, the festival continues to expand.
Place：Near 1 Kusatsu, Kusatsu City
Along previous Tokaido and Nakasendo routes, and around Kusatsu City Office.
Access：10 min. walk from JR Biwako Line Kusatsu Sta.
Contact：Kusatsu Post Town Festival Executive Committee（Kusatsu City Tourism Association）
- Kanou Shoujuan Sunai no Sato Japanese Confection Making Experience
- Kanou Shoujuan Sunai no Sato is a longstanding Japanese style confectioner, now synonymous with Shiga. Along with delicious delicacies, they also offer a chance to make your own confections.
Using ingredients carefully selected by the highly skilled Kanou Shoujuan staff, this classroom provides the opportunity to make Japanese confections that are overflowing with a sense of the seasons.
Under the watchful guidance of skilled craftspeople, enjoy this deliciously creative experience in a peaceful and welcoming atmosphere.
[Day Held]Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (*May change depending on the season)
[Time]10:45 - 12:15 (Japanese confection making)
[Participation Charges]2700yen (including tax) per person
[No. of Places]40 people (reservations closed once full)
[Things to Bring ] Nothing in particular (aprons etc. will be provided)
[Applications](Reception 9:00 - 17:00)
*Please make a reservation at least 4 days before the date on which you wish to participate.
- The Best Soba Noodles in Shiga!
- An introduction to soba noodles from Shiga, a region blessed with rich nature and water.
■Honke Tsuruki Soba
A soba restaurant with more than 300 years of history, located in the town that flourished as the gateway to Hieizan Enryakuji Temple.
[Access]1 min. on foot from Keihan Sakamoto Station
■Tsuruki Soba Hieizan
A soba restaurant popular with visitors to Hieizan Enryakuji Temple. They opened around 280 years ago, when the founding owner opened a soba restaurant in Sakamoto.
[Access]Immediately on foot from Hieizan Enryakuji Temple
Seriously fundamental soba, passionately created using the spiritually rich waters from the foot of Mt. Ibukiyama and using no artificial additives of any kind.
[Access]15 min. by taxi from JR Omi-Nagaoka Station
■Kenjo Ibuki Soba Tsurukian
Carefully prepared buckwheat soba that uses wheat grown by contracted farms around the foothills of Mt. Ibukiyama, in combination with the famous subsoil water from the mountain.
[Access]8 min. on foot from JR Hikone Station
- Kannon Villages
- Nagahama City in Shiga is a treasure trove of Buddhist cultural artifacts, among which many are statues of Guanyin Bodhisattva (called Kannon in Japanese). In fact, there are almost as many statues as there are separate settlements, and all of them are still reverently protected by the villagers to this day.
Statue of Eleven-faced Kannon (Important Cultural Property)
The statue of Eleven-faced Kannon kept here, said to have been created toward the end of the Heian period (794 - 1185), is a nationally designated Important Cultural Property. Carved from a single block of Zelkova wood, the crimson that remains on its lips even today is an indicator of the vivid colors that once adorned it.
Admission Times： 9:00 - 16:00
Admission Charges： ￥300
Statue of Eleven-faced Kannon (Important Cultural Property)
The main statue of Keisokuji Temple, a bold piece created from a single piece of Japanese cypress, still has its lacquer color basecoat intact. It is thought to have been carved at some point between the start and the middle of the Heian period (794 - 1185).
Admission Times： 9:00 - 17:00 (April - November)、9:00 - 16:00 （December - March)
Admission Charges： ￥500
- Japanese Hatsumode in Shiga
- Hatsumode is the first visit made to a shrine or temple at the start of the year, to pray for happiness in the year ahead.
◆Taga Taisha Shrine
A shrine that has attracted worshippers since ancient times due to its connections to the god of long life, relationships and warding off disaster. The premiere shrine in Shiga, the god Izanagi and goddess Izanami, who were the parents of Amaterasu herself, are enshrined here.
Charge: Entry to the grounds is free (Okushoin Garden 300yen)
◆Hieizan Enryakuji Temple
A temple globally renowned for its 1200 years of history and tradition, in 1994 Enryakuji became a registered UNESCO World Heritage site. From New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Day both the Okuhiei and Hieizan Driveways remain open all night, allowing you to drive through from the city and see the first sunrise of the New Year from Hieizan.
One charge for admittance to the East Tower, West Tower and Yokawa: Adult 700yen, junior and high school student 500yen, elementary school student 300yen
◆Tsukubusuma-jinja Shrine (Chikubushima-jinja Shrine)
A shrine located on the mysterious Chikubushima Island, and known as one of the three major shrines in Japan enshrining Benzaiten. It is visited not only on the first day of the New Year but also throughout the year by many worshippers, and is popular as a spiritual power spot.
Charge: Free (Island entry charge: Adult 400yen, child 300yen)
- Ski Slopes in Shiga
- <Biwako Valley>
A slope at the peak of a mountain at a height of 1,174m. Using the most advanced large carriage cable car in Japan, which opened in February 2008, you can reach the slope in just three and a half minutes. From there you can take in the stunning panorama of Lake Biwa while enjoying activities for everyone from beginners to experts.
Skiing and snowboard lessons can also be provided in English. Rates start from 3,000yen.
1 Day Lift Ticket: Adult 4,100yen, child 3,300yen, senior citizen 3,300yen
1 Day Rental: Ski set 5,000yen
Snowboard set 5,000yen
<Okubuki Ski and Snowboard>
One of the largest snow resorts in the Kansai area, boasting superlative access. The high elevation offers the ultimate in deep, high-quality powder. There are also no less than twelve varied courses to choose from, catering to everyone from beginners to experts.
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
1 Day Ticket: Weekdays Adult 4,000yen
Weekends and Holidays: Adults 4,500yen
1 Day Rental Full Set: Adult 7,000yen, Child 4,500yen
<Mt. Hakodateyama Ski Resort>
A stunning slope that lets you look out across all of Lake Biwa. The wide main slope with its array of varied courses caters to everyone from beginner to expert.
1 Day Gondola and Lift Set Ticket: Adult 4,800yen, child 3,500yen, senior citizen 3,800yen
Set + Wear: Adult 6,500yen, child 4,500yen
- The Nagahama Plum Tree Bonsai Exhibition
- In accordance with their blossoming, around 90 from among a total of 3 million trees are exhibited in a pure Japanese-style tatami mat room. The collection includes large trees reaching almost 3m tall and ancient trees said to be over 400 years old. Having started in 1952, making this the 67th event, this is both the largest in scale and longest in the history of plum bonsai exhibitions in Japan, and is loved as one of the traditions of spring in Shiga.
[Date]January 10 – March 10 2020
[Open]Open every day during the exhibition 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (final entry 4:30 p.m.)
[Entry fee] Adult 800yen, elementary or junior high student 400yen, 20% discount for groups of 20 or more
- MIHO MUSEUM
- The Miho Museum opened in 1997, and was designed by the world-famous architect I. M. Pei, also responsible for the glass pyramid at the Louvre in Paris and the Washington National Gallery's East Building.
With a fused theme of "the art of nature and buildings," "the traditional and the modern," and "East and West," more than 80% of the building's volume is submerged underground, and great care was taken not to destroy the natural environment around it and also to restore the nature above the building.
The museum opens seasonally three times per year, and allows special exhibitions and permanent installations to be viewed.
The café and restaurant on-site provide meals made with ingredients grown without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers, and with no artificial additives of any kind.
- World Heritage! Visit Hieizan Enryakuji Temple!
- As a place of prayer for world peace and tranquility, and as a place of learning and training for some of the greatest, national-treasure level monks across all sects, Hieizan Enryakuji Temple is absolutely fundamental to Japanese Buddhism. Furthermore, Mt. Hieizan's location on the border between Kyoto and Shiga allows for some epic scenery, looking out over the expanse of Lake Biwa in the east and the city of old Kyoto in the west.
This beautiful natural environment, combined with 1,200 years of history and tradition, has received recognition and praise from around the world, and in 1994 it was finally registered as a Unesco World Heritage site.
- National Treasures and Cultural Assets of Shiga - Konan Area -
- National Treasures and Cultural Assets of Shiga - Konan Area -
Shiga Prefecture boasts a trove of cultural assets. So much so, in fact, that the region ranks third in Japan for the number of buildings designated as National Treasures or Important Cultural Assets. Here's an introduction to three temples in the Konan area.
The main temple at Chojyuji is quite literally a treasure-trove of history, containing many Important Cultural Assets, including a decorative cabinet that is a National Treasure. The repository behind the main temple also houses a large statue of a seated Amitabha, almost 3m in size and made from gold.
The main temple has a cypress bark roof and is a designated National Treasure. Immediately behind it there is a perfectly formed three storey pagoda, to which the trees beyond provide a beautiful backdrop. The interior of the lowest section features a Zen dais, and the walls, four pillars and other locations are all decorated with Buddhist images and bright colors.
The palace-style, solemn and solid main temple is representative of Tendai Buddhist construction. It barely survived the war fires of Nobunaga Oda, and is now a designated National Treasure. The interior also features no less than 15 Buddha statues, including representative pieces from the Tempyo period (710 - 794) and the Heian period (794 - 1185) and a wooden seated Bhaisajyaguru that is a Important Cultural Asset. All of them are more than worth making the trip to see!