The Secret Island of Chikubu-shima in Lake Biwa, Shiga Prefecture
Off the coast, away from the not-quite-hustle-and-bustle of castle town Nagahama, in Lake Biwa, is the uninhabited island Chikubu-shima or Chikubu-jima.
A half hour ferry ride from Nagahama Port brings you to the island’s base. Though only a couple of kilometers in length, the island is steep, with a variety of structures, temples and shrines peeking out through the lush overgrown greenery. You can opt to go on a guided tour or ascend the stone steps that wind around the island and walk around yourself. There are a few restaurants near the port, but with an hour and fifty minutes before the return ferry, you should make sure to explore thoroughly first.
Chikubu-shima contains structures from over 1,000 years ago and its long history has lead to the diverse architecture and historical significance of the islands temples and shrines, including a three story pagoda and torii gates lining the shore. Compared to the carefully painstakingly maintained gardens and temples of Kyoto, Chikubu-shima can be a welcome and exiting change.
Ferries leave from Nagahama Port every hour and fifteen minutes from 9:00am – 2:00pm. Tickets are 2,980\ but if you are staying in the area, many hotels offer coupons for the ride. Be sure to hold on to your ticket on the island as it will be checked again when you return. There is an additional 400\ fee after you arrive on the island