Most tourists come for Lake Biwa, but Shiga prefecture actually offers many interesting activities and beautiful landscape. Here are the top 15 things you might want to do here.
15. Lake Biwa Cruise
As the biggest lake in Japan, Lake Biwa has special cruises you can take to enjoy the scenery along it. There are four types of cruises that you can choose based on your preference: Michigan Cruise, South Lake Route Cruise, Chikubushima Cruise, and Biwako Tour of Islands. Most of the cruise takes place during the daytime, with the exception for Michigan Cruise which offers a night time cruise. The cruise takes about 60-120 minutes and costs vary from 930 yen to 8,950 yen, depending on the type of cruise you choose. Do check out their website for more information.
14. Biwako Valley Outdoor Activities
Biwako Valley is a resort area in the Horai mountain of Shiga prefecture. The resort provides various outdoor activities. You may enjoy sky walker, zip line adventure, or summer land – attractions that will trigger your adrenaline! In addition, visitors may also enjoy beautiful view of Lake Biwa from the ropeway or from the Biwako Terrace Café 360.
13. Hachimanbori Canal
Used to be the waterway that connected Omihachiman city for trading, Hachimanbori Canal nowadays is used as a tourist attraction. The Hachiman-bori Meguri (Hachiman Moat Tour) starts from the canal in the center of the old city of Omihachiman, then continues to Lake Biwa. It costs 1,000 yen and takes 35 minutes. The best time to visit is in spring – when you can enjoy the beautiful scenery of cherry blossoms along the canal while riding the boat.
12. Miho Museum
Located in the middle of the mountain, Miho Museum is a hidden gem of Shiga. The main collection of the museum is the antiques from all over the world, but people who have interest in architecture and scenery may enjoy this museum as well. The unique architecture was designed by the famous Tadao Ando and the scenery surrounding the museum is a view like no other. Do come to Miho Museum in autumn and enjoy the mix of green, orange, and yellow colors on your way to the museum!
11. Shirahige Shrine
Most people know Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima as a famous torii (gate) that floats in the water, yet actually there is another floating torii, and it’s in Shiga. Shirahige Shrine is believed as a place to pray for longevity, matchmaking, and better luck. The torii gate of Shirahige Shrine “floats” on the edge of Lake Biwa. Come and enjoy a beautiful sunset with the sight of torii gate here!
10. Hikone Castle
Of all castles in Japan, Hikone Castle is one of the original castles that survived the post feudal era without any destruction or reconstruction. The castle keep is small but displays unique and different architecture styles and is designated as a national treasure of Japan. The garden of the castle is one of the scenic spots for cherry blossom viewing in Shiga.
9. Koka Ninja Village
A village in a remote area of Shiga, Koka Ninja Village is a place where you can find a museum dedicated to ninja techniques, a house full of ninja traps, and more interactive ninja attractions. Want to try to walk on water or throw shuriken like ninja in the movies? This is the right place for that.
8. Okishima Island at Lake Biwa
The one and only Japanese island in the middle of the lake, Okishima is known for two things: its history and its cats. History tells that Okishima was the place where the seven ancient samurai who were defeated in a fight in Kyoto escaped. Their descendants continued to live on the island afterwards. Unusual from other places in Japan, Okishima is also one of the place where you can often see cats in the city. The city is great for people who look for serenity, for those who look for a quiet time – as being in Okishima will give you a sense of turning back to a calm, quiet past.
7. La Collina
La Collina is a dessert shop like no other. Its building uses materials from local forests, with grasses on its roof and wood on its wall. Designed by Terunobu Fujimori, La Collina which means “hill” in Italian is actually a dessert shop and factory of a baumkuchen cake brand named Club Harie. Inside La Collina, you may see the process of making baumkuchen and dorayaki on the first floor while buying their desserts. They also provide a café for those who want to take a break while enjoying some sweets.
6. Historical Town of Pottery: Shigaraki
One of the oldest pottery towns in Japan, Shigaraki has history spanning 1,200 years. Japanese people usually know Shigaraki for its Tanuki or Japanese raccoon dog ceramic figures. Here, you can experience some workshops related to ceramics, such as furnace workshop, painting workshop, etc. You can even make your own souvenirs!
5. Metasequoia Namiki
For anyone who loves landscape views, Metasequoia Namiki of Shiga prefecture is just a perfect match. As one of Japan’s top 100 roadside tree sceneries, Metasequoia Namiki is a 2.4 road with 500 metasequoia trees planted alongside. Whether it’s in green in spring or summer, orange in autumn, or white in winter, this road never fails to show its beauty.
4. Winter Sports at Biwako Valley Resort
When it’s winter and you are in the Kansai region, Biwako Valley is the place you can go for a winter sports experience! Here, they provide a snow park for you to ski or snow board – with three area categories: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. There is also a kids park for families who want to play in the snow. For beginners, lessons for skiing and snowboarding are also available with the prices starting from 5,000 yen.
3. Daiichi Nagisa Park
On the eastern shore of Lake Biwa, there is one park filled with flowers named Daiichi Nagisa Park (Nagisa Park No.1). In the late January to February, 12,000 flowers of ‘Kanzaki Hanana’ will bloom, while in summer the park will be filled with 12,000 beautiful sunflowers. Expect some crowds on such dates, as the blooming of flowers attract tourists from all around the country.
2. Ishiyama-dera Temple
A temple that the main hall is designated as a national treasure, Ishiyama-dera is worth a visit when you are in Shiga. Aside from its history as one of the most sacred temples in Japan, Ishiyama-dera is also very attractive because it offers a garden full of flowers and trees: plum blossoms and cherry blossoms in spring, hydrangea and iris in summer, bush and trees covered in red in autumn. The best time to visit is in spring, for its flowers, or in autumn, for its autumn illumination.
1. Mitsui Outlet Park Shiga Ryuo
Most Japanese outlet parks are built in spacey, remote areas and the Mitsui Outlet Park Shiga Ryuo is no exception. Despite its location that has quite distance with the popular cities of Kyoto or Osaka, Mitsui Outlet Park Shiga Ryuo provides more than 50 brands from all over the world in its outlet shop that makes it great for tourists to visit.
I hope after reading this you have developed an urge to visit Shiga and check out the exciting things to do there. It is a great spot for traveling, no matter who you visit with: your family, friends, even by yourself. These are the things about Shiga I love to share with people, now you can too.